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Matt McGovern's "Know How" (April 2005)

"Know How" is for the well-rounded entrepreneur and small business owner looking for useful computing, marketing, writing, and Web-related articles and tips—plus the occasional topical observation of the world around us.

IN THIS ISSUE:
"Seven Low-cost, No-cost Marketing Ideas"
"Writing: It's Good for the Mind and Soul"

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"Seven Low-cost, No-cost Marketing Ideas"
by Matt McGovern

For marketing to be effective, especially for small businesses and professionals, it's something you need to be able to afford, time-wise and resource-wise. You might develop the most effective plan, but if you can't implement it because it's too costly, or because you don't have the time to commit to it, then it will fail.

That said, here are seven low-cost, no-cost marketing ideas you can put to use right away:

1. Make marketing a subconscious element of all you do. This doesn't mean you should turn into a pushy salesperson (my apologies to salespeople everywhere) but it does mean you should develop the mindset that EVERY interaction with someone could be that "big break" for which you've been looking.

2. Write your own press releases on new products, a new book, new services, awards you and/or members of your staff receive, etc. Don't be shy. These types of news stories always play well in local, weekly newspapers—especially those with business columns or business sections—and even some online venues. Be sure your articles have news merit and are not simply marketing pieces. Quotations from those other than the author and pictures are definite plusses.

3. Provide a low-cost, no-cost way for prospects to experience you or your services. Offer something for free such as an e-newsletter, a free introductory call, a free teleclass, etc. By giving prospects a no-cost or low-cost option to meet and/or interact with you, you make it easier for them to consider buying a product or service from you.

4. Ask for referrals from friends, clients, past clients, colleagues. If you don't ask, sometimes you don't get. If you do nothing else . . . do this. Without a doubt, word-of-mouth is the most effective means of promoting your business, especially for service professionals.

5. Print your own direct mail postcards targeted at area small businesses, chambers of commerce, media, or other key influencers who represent all or certain segments of your target audience. Armed with card stock, a paper cutter, and a high-quality color printer, you could even do this yourself. If that's not your style, shop special print promotions. Look for "gang-run" print opportunities where you can have full- color postcards printed at huge discounts. If you have two or three specialty areas, consider several versions of your post card printed. Commit to mailing 20 to 30 postcards a month to area business, civic, and professional organizations, libraries, etc. Tell them who you are, what's in it for them, and provide an easy response mechanism (phone or email).

6. Use email auto-responders. If your Web host offers auto-responders (many do) set up 2 or 3 that contain articles you've written, a "Top 10" list, etc. Place a link on your site or in your email signature that readers can click to get an article for free. Everyone likes to get something for free (see #3 above)! Make sure your article is content-heavy and that you include your copyright, byline, and a brief 75- word or less bio with a link to your site. A plain text format is best to ensure compatibility with all email programs.

7. Ask for reciprocal links on the Web sites of colleagues, clients, associates. The more links "from" your site and "to" your site, the better your search engine ranking, and the greater likelihood of increased traffic through cross-referencing.

Undoubtedly there are many more low-cost, no-cost ideas you can devise and implement. The only limit is creativity and time! The key is to remember that marketing doesn't have to be expensive to be effective.

Feedback? Send your comments to knowhow@700acres.com.

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"Writing: It's Good for the Mind and Soul"
by Matt McGovern

Why do you write? Why would you want to?

While I always looked forward to writing assignments in school, I can still hear the collective groan of my classmates as they were asked to press pen to paper and start anew their English class "journals." For me, the assignment was always a welcome invitation to do something I loved. In fact, I still have a number of my high school and college English journals, and re-visiting them is always a welcome return to simpler, youthful times.

But clearly, for many, writing is not a popular pastime, which begs the question, "Other than the necessity of communicating with friends, family, colleagues, and business associates through the written word (unless you are an author making a living through writing) is there any reason you should write or want to write?"

I believe so.

Since childhood, I've been writing, but I've never really known why. Having gone through the creative process of writing a novel and then getting it published last year, now I know. Writing is a kind of therapy for me—a mental exercise that allows me to take otherwise nebulous or unformed concepts, thoughts, ideas, and emotions and explore them. By committing these abstractions to paper or computer screen, I am able to give them form and, sometimes but not always, begin to make sense of what's most on my mind.

Try it . . . and don't worry about how well you're writing or about grammar or style or even complete sentences. You are writing for yourself, not public consumption. Simply write. You'll be amazed at what thoughts come spilling out, what emotions are evoked. You might even conjure some seemingly long-forgotten memory or find something out about yourself you never knew.

Enjoy!

Feedback? Send your comments to knowhow@700acres.com.

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About Matt McGovern
Matt McGovern combines a rare blend of creative and technical know how with more than 20 years of hands-on management and consulting experience. Through 700acres Small Business Services (www.700acres.com), Matt provides writing, editorial, book design, project management, Web development, and marketing consultation services--primarily for small businesses and solo professionals. He has authored and edited numerous Web sites, books, e-books, and newsletters; and has also published articles and short stories, including his first novel, CURRENTS—Every Life Leaves an Imprint (read more about it at www.mattmcgovern.com).

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Copyright © 2005 by Matt McGovern. All Rights Reserved.
(207) 929-8633 | knowhow@700acres.com |
www.700acres.com | 27 McGovern Drive | Buxton, Maine 04093

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