Strategic Marketing: Using Deadlines and Discounts

Strategic marketing means promoting your products and services with a clear cut plan. Like most small business marketing consultants, I do a MUCH better job of doing this with my clients than I do in applying strategic marketing practices to my own stuff.

If you didn’t know it before, you should learn this now; it’s HUMAN NATURE to procrastinate! It’s why coupons have expiration dates, it’s why businesses have limited time SALES. There’s not better way to motivate buyers to ACT NOW than to impose a deadline! Putting a deadline on a discount is essential.

A discount without a deadline is simply a price cut.

Creating a deadline is a good marketing strategy. So, when I offered my Fast Track to Blogging Success for free, I put a deadline on that discount. The deadline has now passed – and the 100% discount is now over.

However, as I went in to remove the code, I remembered how I HATED it when I wasn’t able to get Naomi’s report when I missed the boat.

It was time to “enforce” my own deadline – and I was faced with a dilemma. If I didn’t remove the 100% discount, I’m a liar. If I remove it, then someone’s going to try to use the discount because they got here late and it won’t work. Then, forever more, if they ever think about “Virtual Impax,” it will cause “bad vibes”.

Talk about a “no win” situation!

So, instead of REMOVING the discount, I just reduced it. The discount code “CathRocks” now takes $10 off the $24.95 price.

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If you got it for free – then you still got a bargain, however if you’re late to the party – you can still pick it up at a discount.

However, in order for this discount to be “motivating” it still needs a deadline. Otherwise, it’s simply a thinly veiled attempt at a price cut. So the deadline is now moved to November 1 for the “CathRocks” discount code which was originally offered to readers of Cath Lawson’s OUTSTANDING blog.

If you haven’t checked out her blog, you should.  She definitely offers business advice from the “been there, done that, bought the T-shirt AND the factory which produces the T-shirts”  point of view.    Cath is a serial entrepreneur – and honestly, I don’t think there’s any other kind of entrepreneur.  She shares her wisdom with a healthy dose of wit via her blog on a regular basis.    In other words, she’s the’s the real deal and it shows!

Social Media Warning: I am Rubber – You are Glue …

Remember that chant – back when you were a child. Someone would say something mean or hateful, and your response would be the sing-song, “I am rubber – you are glue! Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to YOU!”

Web 2.0 gives us a real opportunity to share our thoughts spontaneously. Whether it’s posting to your own blog, making comments on other blogs or sending bulletins via MySpace – sometimes we might share things we wish we hadn’t. If we’re lucky, the rest of the world will be so self absorbed that most people won’t notice when we expose more than we planned.

I recently got a notification about an article which is getting a lot of attention on one of the various social networking sites to which I belong.  The article was written by a member who is telling business owners to get control over their personal spending lest it ruin their business. I think I’ve gotten more insight to her spending habits than she may have been planning on providing.  I thought it was just common sense, but if you want to promote your services as a financial manager, don’t tell me how many checks you’ve bounced in the past few weeks!

Meanwhile, the article makes me laugh because I am currently working with a client who has EXACTLY the opposite problem. This client is processing her own credit card orders manually because she doesn’t want to PAY an assistant to do this menial task for her. As a result, it’s taking WEEKS for some orders to get processed – money that could be safely in her bank account – less a small fee for hiring an assistant to handle the order processing.

We’re in the process of automating this process for her, by the way so she doesn’t have to hire the assistant – however, she’s reluctant to make the investment needed to make this happen.  Her business is relatively new and she’s having trouble making the transition from “requisition forms” to “you’ve got to spend money to make money.”

I can TOTALLY relate to my client because I too have battled trying to achieve balance between the art of bootstrapping and being silly.

For example, I remember that I worried for MONTHS over the prospect of spending $35 per year to register my domain name (way back in 1998) and the subsequent hosting fee!  It took me a long time to get used to the idea that I had to SPEND money to MAKE money. I’ve learned that it’s just a part of the transition from “employee” to “business owner” and for some of us, it’s a tough hurdle to overcome.

Meanwhile, the world is full of therapists involved in horrible relationships who spend their days “fixing” other people’s relationships – doctors who smoke, drink and abuse drugs but reach out selflessly to heal their patients – accountants who can’t keep their own finances in order. The list goes on and on but a key player in this kind of behavior are the MMO bloggers who aren’t making any money.

While it’s true that “The cobblers’ own children rarely wear shoes,” if you want to convince others that you know your stuff – you’d better have some impressive samples.

As always, this is going to come BACK to blogging.  One of the reasons I ADORE blogs is that it’s hard to “fake” expertise over the course of 100 or more posts.  When these MMO pretenders post their monthly earnings and think $89 a month is a sign of their success – well, it’s yet another reasons I ADORE blogs!

If you’re not authentic – or if your SOLE purpose is trying to fleece the masses – then don’t launch a blog and DO NOT participate in social media marketing.    If you’re a pretender, your blog will expose you as one!

If on the other hand, your business is in the business of helping people solve their problems, achieve their goals or placate their desires – the step right up to blogging and Web 2.0.  While you won’t find OVERNIGHT success, you’ll find it’s a fun and fulfilling path to travel.

Your blog won’t be a 30 minute solution to your marketing dilemmas – it may not even earn $89 per month in direct income for you, but it will be great way to begin spreading the word about the solutions you offer!

What is YOUR blog worth?

Darren Rowse of ProBlogger is getting inundated with the news of the 1 Man Blog Sells for $15 Million Dollars

The question at the back of EVERY blogger’s mind when they hear news of a blog sale is, “I wonder how much MY blog would bring?”

For John Wu, the sole author of Bankaholic the answer is a cool $15 Million.

Darren reports:

the blog has an Alexa ranking of 42,168 and averages less than 20 comments per post. The blog does seem to rank very well for a lot of bank terms and I’m sure drives targetted traffic.

That’s the key – TARGETED TRAFFIC.  The blog buyer is Bankrate, which is acting very much like Google in this acquisition.  It’s the old,  “let someone ELSE do the hard work” and then the big guy with deep pockets sweeps in to collect.    John Wu got to perform the hard work – building up the blog over a period of 26 months.  He did the digging and Bankrate gets the gold and John’s labor is being WELL rewarded with a ROI of $576,923 per month for his efforts.

However, I think it’s important to remember that he didn’t launch this blog with this payday in mind. Instead he set out to create a tightly targeted blog focusing on attractive and tightly targeted keywords.  Now a big player wants his blog and is paying handsomely for John’s hard work.  Congratulations John.

Oh, and in a medium where community is everything, this blog is a bit light on that aspect.  Blog posts don’t get a lot of comments, but the blog delivers where it counts and that’s on desirable keywords and targeted traffic!

Oh, and for what it’s worth – Bankaholic is a WordPress blog.

Word of Mouth Marketing- Turns out what you don’t know CAN hurt you

Word of mouth marketing – it’s the holy grail for small business owners.  In the world of Web 2.0, word of mouth advertising is sometimes known as “viral marketing“. In any case, word of mouth advertising is where you rely on your satisfied customers to spread the word about your products or services.

Word of mouth marketing is a GREAT way to build a business when the message being carried by your customers is positive.   Heck, there is even Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association dedicated to promoting this method of marketing and advertising!

I have a love/hate relationship with word of mouth marketing.  I love that it’s powerful, it’s effective and best of all, it’s cheap!  I’ve built my business solely upon word of mouth marketing – which is the definition of irony because I help small business owners as a marketing consultant and I warn my clients NOT to rely solely upon Word of Mouth Marketing as their sole promotion tool to promote their business because ….

WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING SUCKS WHEN SOMEONE IS BAD MOUTHING YOUR SERVICES

Tomorrow marks the 4 week anniversary of the extraction of my wisdom tooth.  Unfortunately, this is a tale of how important trust can be when it comes to word of mouth marketing – especially when you’re  building a business and a brand.

My tale begins in classic Word of Mouth Marketing fashion.  I was asking friends if they knew of a good dentist and  I was referred to Southport Dental Clinic in Port St Lucie, FL.

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Best Kept Internet Marketing Strategies Secrets

One of the best kept internet marketing strategies is cross promotion and one of the best ways to illustrate this best kept internet marketing strategy secret is to illustrate it  in a case study.

The basics of cross promotion are really quite simple. First, you determine your target audience. In this case study, the company in the spotlight is iThemes, founded by Cory Miller.

Cory’s company sells WordPress Themes to bloggers. A WordPress Theme allows a blog owner to quickly and easily change the appearance of a blog with the click of a mouse. To make something that EASY for the user takes a LOT of work behind the scenes.

Now, you might be wondering why ANYONE would PAY for a WordPress theme when there are hundreds of thousands of FREE WordPress Themes floating around.

Remember when I said that to make something easy takes a lot of behind the scenes work – well, a lot of times those “free” themes are full of “bugs”. Some of those “bugs” will make it so the theme doesn’t display properly. I had a case with one free theme where the pages wouldn’t display properly. The client loved the look, but the code was such a mess it wasn’t usable. There are other cases where the “bugs” on those free themes means an outbound link from your blog to a blog in a less than desirable neighborhood on the internet.

After a typical blogger tires of fighting the good fight of trying to find a well coded, non-spam free theme, the next logical step is to is to move into the realm of PAID themes a.k.a PREMIUM themes.

This is the arena within which iThemes competes.

So, iThemes target customer is someone who is already a blogger. In many cases, they’re bloggers who have done the free theme route and are ready to make an small financial investment in their blog. (All of iThemes single use themes cost less than $100 which makes them very affordable.)  Most of these customers are familiar with the concept of FTP AND the basics of blogging.

The best kept internet marketing strategies secret for iThemes is to cross promote their business with a popular blog that writes about issues related to blogging.

This is the point where most people will stop reading and run off to find a blog to use for a cross promotion strategy.  This is the virtual equivalent of a small child running into heavy traffic.

STOP! LOOK! LISTEN!!!

This best kept internet marketing strategy is not quite that simple. If it were, then THIS wouldn’t be a BEST KEPT internet marketing strategies secret.  Here’s the SECRET part of the equation – and Daniel over at Daily Blog Tips delivers the secret in his post Drop A Comment if You Want to Win an iThemes Premium Theme

Pretty much every week someone emails me to offer some kind of free product or service. Most of the times, however, you can see that it is a blatant promotional effort, where the other side is just interested in getting some exposure for his stuff. On those cases I just ignore it. (emphasis is mine)

Sometimes, however, the freebies do have a good value for my readers, and on those occasions I am glad to cover them.

Did you catch that?   He told you the best kept internet marketing strategy secret of all time.  Did you see it?  It’s right there in the last line in the quote above,

Sometimes, however, the freebies do have a good value for my readers, and on those occasions I am glad to cover them.

Daniel knows his readers.   He knows who they are and what the need from him.  That’s why his blog is so successful.   (If you don’t know who yours are or who you want them to be, then pick up a copy of the 8 Week Power Blog Launch)  Daniel’s readers are ESTABLISHED bloggers seeking information on promoting and improving their blogs.

The secret is, when someone contacts him with a win/win/win proposition, Daniel – like every other successful blogger- is happy to oblige. In this case, offering a free WordPress iThemes theme is truly a win/win/win situation.

  • Daniel wins – he’s decided to use the freebie to increase comments on his blog post.
  • Daniel’s readers win – they get a chance to win a free premium  theme which is something many of them want.
  • Cory wins – Daniel’s readers have to say WHICH iThemes theme they want to win.  In order to do so, they must VISIT THE iThemes SITE!!!  They visit the site, see the tasty selection of beautiful themes and are asked to “fall in love” with one and post that preference within their comment.

Oh, Daniel and Cory both score additional “wins” on this promotion.  Cory wins AGAIn in the fact that not everyone who comments will be a lucky winner. Those who aren’t lucky winners are now classified as “hot prospects”.

Daniel wins again as well -because when new readers find this post after the promotion is over, they are likely to subscribe to the RSS so they’re sure to be ready for the next big give away!  So promotions like these help to build Daniel’s blog and help him attract new readers.   Oh, and Daniel wins a THIRD time on this -because other bloggers – like me – will write about his brilliant internet marketing strategy, which means more incoming links.

So the best kept internet marketing strategy secret begins with knowing your target customer.  Once you know who your target customer is, then you can find win/win/win cross promotional opportunities for your product or service.