What’s Your Marketing Budget??


Photo (CC) by Victor Bjorklund, on Flickr

You said you have how much to spend on marketing this year?

Oh, $4.5 million. Then you can buy a 30-second television ad for this year’s Super Bowl. Look at the publicity. We have been hearing and seeing teasers for the last two weeks or more.

But sorry to say they are all sold out. Plus just a warning about one-time marketing efforts, they rarely work. I need to see your name five or more times to know you exist and another five times or so before I may step in your door.

Maybe your budget closer to $0? You probably are commenting that I need to be realistic. No business can start without a substantial marketing budget. Don’t tell that to Toffee Talk. They did it using Twitter.

But you don’t know anything about social media? Well neither did Toffee Talk. Get online, watch to see what others do, dip your toe in the water, and then go for it. Do some planning ahead of time though regarding your goals and what your social identity and brand will be. For help in understanding getting online, you can get a free resource, eTailing: Taking Charge of Your Online Presence.

Marketing plans are not just about being online. The traditional media methods still have a powerful impact. So think about where and how they best fit your effort. (Just don’t forget that you need an online presence and you need to be monitoring your online reputation.)

A key to business success is not how much you spend on marketing but that you indeed have a marketing plan. “Build it and they will come” is a myth. You have too much invested and there are too many competitors to think chance will bring people into your doors, either in person or online.

The amount of money you have to spend is not the issue. Having a plan is. Know your audience, solve their problem, let them know you exist, and provide a great experience – before, during, and after the sale. These are crucial steps in your success.

UPCOMING EVENT – Thanks to Small Food Business for posting the Toffee Talk example. Jennifer Lewis, owner, will be our guest presenter for our February webinar regarding blogging and online marketing.


Take Your Marketing to the Next Level with eTailing curriculum

Online marketing is key for all businesses, even those who aren’t selling online. As Tom Cochran from Atlantic Media, best said it, “If you don’t have a digital presence today, you don’t exist.”


Online retail capacity, or e-tailing, remains a rapidly growing trend.

“It is important for all small businesses to put an online marketing strategy into full speed,” says Connie Hancock, UNL Extension Educator. “More and more, customers are looking for 24/7 access or ‘always-on’ capacity to shop, buy, and receive customer support and service.”

With this changing landscape for retailers, North Dakota State University (NDSU) and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Services teamed up to provide rural and small-business owners with an educational program, “eTailing: Taking Charge of Your Online Presence,” at http:go.unl.edu/etailing.

This new self-help program is designed to help business owners understand e-tailing and make plans to incorporate on online marketing strategy into their total marketing strategy to reach existing customers as well as expand their reach for new customers.

“It is important for business owners to understand two things: First, e-tailing is not an option,” says…

View original post 370 more words

Online Presence webinar series begins!

The beginning of a three part series helping small business owners with their Online Presence.  Glenn Muske, NDSU and Connie Hancock, UNL Extension presented Crafting the Message on Thursday, January 9, 2014.
Here is a copy of the presentation for your convenience – Crafting the Message FINAL plus a link to the archived recording – Crafting the Message recording
Crafting the Message Resources

Mark your calendars for upcoming webinars

2nd Thursday, 2:00pm ET; 1:00pm CT; 12 pm MT; 11:00 am PThttp://connect.extension.iastate.edu/etc-cop

February 13 –Blogging for Food – Jennifer Lewis – The Soup to Nuts Resource for Artisan Food Entrepreneurs

March 13 – Incorporating Video into the Marketing Strategy – Jeremy Doan, Rolling Plains Adventures

Getting People In the Door

customer relations

Photo (CC) by Ydubel, on Flickr

Business owners look for ways to get people in the door and then how to make the sale.

My work faces the same challenges. I am in the service industry. I provide nontraditional educational services to adults and youth. With a network of Extension colleagues across the country, we provide a variety of programs and materials to help people start and run successful businesses. Some business owners sell widgets, but others, like ours, provide services. Our service is helping business owners and the communities where they live achieve their dreams and goals.

Yet recently a friend asked me, as a recent workshop had to be cancelled due to low attendance, how can get people to use what we have? We have the product, in our case materials and seminars, online and in print. and even though much of it is provided at low cost or even no cost, we sometimes struggle, like any business owner, to get an audience in the door.

So what can we do? My immediate response is to shout it from the mountain top, “We exist.” Yet that message will probably just get caught up in the deluge of messages that assault our senses every day.

Like all business owners, we need to:

Listen, ask questions, and gather any additional information we can. It is not enough to know that a business owner needs help with finances. We need, and you need, to drill down. Are we talking revenue or expenses? Is it finding a loan or speeding up the accounts payable process? Is it a tax issue or an accounting issue? The list goes on.

Offer something of benefit. We can provide lots of information but does it help solve the problem (right back to the listening issue)?

Be recognized as trustworthy and authentic. Some call this building our brand. This comes from establishing relationships over time, being where the customer is at, and being there over time. It also involves staying in touch or at least knowing that the lines of communication are open. People get busy, people forget. What can you do to stay in touch and provide ongoing information. This blog is one tool that we have selected to use.

Be where our customer is at. And if we are not sure, check it out. It is important to remind ourselves that there may be several groups of customers each of whom choose different channels of communication. Track what happens. We encourage business owners to do that but it just doesn’t always get done.

Don’t stop the process. We need to continually look at how we are doing and make adjustments.

And we can’t forget to “shout it from the mountain.” We need to have a clear, concise marketing message and a strategy to get that message in front of our customer base. In that process, we need to have a call to action and a offer for doing so.

These practices are the same for all businesses including educational services such as Extension and even nonprofits. One final reminder is to remember that none of this happens overnight. Practice them one day at a time. You will forget and miss opportunities but if you are consistent it will become a habit and you will look back and see your success.

What would you add to the list? Give us your comments. We will add you to our monthly newsletter, Power of Business, for sharing your thoughts.