Inexpensive Marketing Design

Having founded several startup companies and service-based businesses, I can appreciate how difficult it is to justify spending money for top quality marketing design. Whether it is for a logo, a website or marketing material, design can get expensive quickly. However, your brand (logo, website, marketing material) is your first impression to prospects of your business, and it’s important that your brand shines compared to your competitors.

My biggest issue with the design process has always been the cost relative to the unknowns. Typically, graphic design companies charge a certain price that includes up to 3-5 concepts from which to choose. That means if you don’t like any of the 3-5 concepts, you’re either out of luck (still responsible for paying the $3000) or you will have to pay more for them to come up with other alternatives. That’s always been a difficult idea for me to stomach.

Luckily, the internet has opened up alternatives for smaller businesses that still want to look professional and established. One of these alternatives, with which I’ve had personal experience, is Design Outpost. On this site, you set the bid price for your design project (e.g. most logo projects are set between $150-$350). Once the bid is set, any of the designers on the Design Outpost network are able to submit concepts. The idea is to get a wide range of concept ideas from different designers, from which you can choose the best one. If you don’t get at least three submissions, your money is refunded.

In my experience, the quality of design has been good. It certainly won’t substitute for a $5000 makeover by a high quality design firm. However, it provides a good value on a tight budget. If you are in the beginning stages of business creation or are still defining who you are, this is probably a fantastic resource for you. They are especially adept at logos, business toolkits (letterhead, envelopes, business cards) and website design. I have used them for other design projects, but have found that few designers on their network participate in miscellaneous projects.

Two caveats about the Design Outpost system: First, if you are pressed for time this is not a good solution for you. Because all communication is taking place on their website through a forum posting model, finishing your project will likely take 2-3 weeks (for a simple logo project). It can take longer depending on how diligently you respond and how clearly you can communicate what you like and don’t like. The second caveat is that unless you pay for a private account, your logo posting will be open to the world wide web. For new companies, this likely means that a Google search for your company name, at least in the short term, will probably return your Design Outpost logo post on page one.


Using "How To" Articles To Promote Your Business

Recently, NuWire Investor rolled out a “how to” article engine. This engine allows service providers to gain exposure to investors by sharing their unique knowledge. Writing takes time, which can seem burdensome if writing is not your core business. With that in mind, I wanted to share the marketing benefits that writing “how to” articles on NuWire’s site offers professionals looking for more clients.

Establish your expertise
“How to” articles give you the ability to showcase your knowledge and establish yourself as an expert in your field. This could lead to speaking engagements, interviews with the media or even partnership/collaboration opportunities.

Earn business
People want to work with professionals who know what they are doing. Writing helpful “how to” articles can introduce new people to your services and show them what you have to offer. Instead of constantly reaching out to find new clients, this can provide a way for new clients can reach out to you.

Generate links
Every “how to” article you write is an opportunity to create a valuable link back to your website. This can be especially valuable if you use text links of keywords and phrases for which you would like your website to perform better. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, read How to Maximize Keywords in “how to” Articles.

Reach a new audience
New content on your website may only reach a small audience. Writing a “how to” article on offers the opportunity to reach a new and broader audience. In this way, you can leverage the credibility that NuWire has built with the search engines in order to drive traffic back to your website.

Search engine placement
Smaller websites have a much harder time getting ranked highly for important search phrases. By writing a “how to” article for NuWire, you may be able to increase your chances of ranking highly for a certain search phrase. Because you can link to your website from your “how to” article, increased search engine traffic, links and exposure will follow.

Check out "How to" Articles for more information on NuWire Investor's "how to" article program.

Labels: ,

All Ears: Why Messages Stick

I have been on hundreds of airline flights. With all of that experience, could I tell you all of the things that flight attendants must cover in their safety pronouncements before takeoff? Probably not. The fact is, I started tuning out those messages many years ago. I was struck by this as I returned home from a holiday weekend with the in-laws.

The flight attendant giving the safety presentation caught my attention for half a second by “spicing” up her presentation with some jokes...not unlike those for which Southwest is famous (although I rarely fly Southwest because of my affinity for assigned seats).

My attention faded after about five seconds. That was how long it took me to realize that she was covering the same “buckle your seatbelt” and “here are the exits” material I have heard hundreds of time before. As I settled back to my book a thought went through my mind; I have a short attention span for messages.

Thinking about it more, I realized that my attention span is not short for every message. I was all ears for the messages in the terminal. Why? I wanted to know if the plane was going to be delayed, if we were ready to board, and/or if I was going to miss my connection. My attention span only became short when I believed there wasn’t value for me in the message.

There is a reason that most companies get a better response from a mention in a magazine versus an advertisement in one. There is a reason that more people click on the organic search results in Google versus the sponsored ads.

We have learned to tune out most marketing messages because they are designed to sell, not to add value. Find a way to add value to a prospect and they will be all ears for your message.


Add Value, Then Dollars

I was reminded today of one of the most interesting technology companies that grew out of the recent real estate bubble. The company is called House Values, and they grew to a market cap of around $1 billion at the peak of the market.

I pulled a quote from their website:

“House Values recognizes that our success as a company is always measured by the success of our customer and partners.”

Based on what I have heard from the real estate agents that I have talked with and the general consensus on the world wide web, the “success” achieved by House Values' customers has been less than spectacular.

A real estate agent and blogger in Utah speaks out:

Look, here’s the thing about HouseValues. It is a lead generation tool that deceives the public into thinking that they are getting free information about the value of their home, but really just collects their information and sells it to the highest-bidding real estate agents. And it’s not like they give the consumer’s information to a highly-trained and qualified Realtor that has passed a thorough screening process. No, they just sell it to whoever will pay.
The point of all this is that it is easy to lose sight of meeting the needs of our clients long term. Why? Sometimes it’s easier to make more money in the short term. That’s why banner ads still exist, despite the fact that most of us them find them more than casually annoying (yeah, I’m the lucky 1,000,000th visitor yet again!).

Focusing on short term sales techniques may work for a company that is pushing for a quick and large initial public offering (IPO) exit via the stock market. However, it’s not sustainable for service providers.

Focus on adding value to your clients and your business will grow...with sustainability and momentum.


Mediocre Doesn't Pay Well; Find Your Niche

I was recently talking with a website developer whose wife is a real estate agent. I asked him if he was spending some time helping her with her online presence. He proceeded to tell me about some of the things he was doing to promote her website.

At one point I asked him, “what does she specialize in?” He seemed confused by the question, and I doubt he’s alone. Most real estate agents make their living by trying to be everything to everyone. They do listings. They do purchases. They do investment properties. They do commercial. They do dabbling.

As an investor, I have no desire to work with a general real estate agent (unless I’m looking to sell a property to a general buyer). I want to work with someone that has specialized knowledge. The more specialized knowledge, the better. If I’m looking to invest in a foreclosure property, I want an agent that only works on foreclosure properties. Why? Because I want the best...not mediocre.

Don’t dabble. Find your niche. Being mediocre doesn’t pay well.


A Large Market Of Investors

In 2006, investors:

  • Purchased over 1 million investment homes in the U.S. to the tune of $200 billion;
  • Invested in approximately 100,000 franchises;
  • Borrowed over $600 billion in small business loans;
  • ...and that’s only part of the story.

There are literally thousands of other investment options open to individual investors, including:

  • Peer-to-peer loans
  • Tax liens & deeds
  • Private mortgages
  • International real estate
  • Commercial real estate
  • Angel investments (private placements)
  • Precious metals
  • Private REITs

Why is this important?

Because investors are a large capable of providing profitable niches for a wide variety of service providers.


What Is Marketing 2 Investors?

Before I started my first business, I had my real estate license. I was recruited into the business by a charismatic broker that saw “the spark” in me. I will never forget one of the first lessons that he taught me: don’t take investors as clients. His reasoning was that investors will suck your brain dry of information and then work with someone else. Fortunately, I didn’t take that lesson to heart, and I have built multiple successful businesses by doing exactly the opposite.

In reality, we’re all investors to some extent...and that’s what makes the concept of marketing to investors really exciting. Just about everyone wants to put their savings to a more profitable use. Just about everyone has the potential to be an investor client at some point. What are these investors looking for? How can you find the ones ready to do deals now? How can you focus all or a portion of your business and providing investor services?

Through the Marketing 2 Investors blog, I hope to give you tools and information to answer those questions for yourself and more effectively find, cultivate and grow your investor clientele. I offer my experience and expertise, not because I claim to have all the answers, but as a starting point for you to think about how to more efficiently tap into the growing individual investor market.

I encourage and appreciate all feedback. Feel free to comment or e-mail with any questions you may have.



© 2010 NuWire Investor and NuWire, Inc. All Rights Reserved.