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It pays to be a skinflint marketer

I’m cheap. There, I said it. I fly coach. I take mass transit. The TV in my office is almost 30 years old. I’m a skinflint. Traditionally, it has not paid to be a skinflint marketer. To do good marketing, you’ve usually needed money, and lots of it. Advertising costs a lot of money and it’s usually hard to see how exactly it pays off—metrics for return on investment on scarce. But the Internet has changed everything. Marketers have usually had to spend money to be successful, but the advent of the Internet has changed the math. Today, even skinflints totally adverse to spending money on marketing can succeed. Do you know how to save marketing money the skinflint way?

Skinflints of the World, Unite

Skinflints, tightwads, misers—use your favorite monicker—now have a way to successfully market their wares without requiring huge budgets. In the past, consumer marketers needed to spend large amounts of advertising, or come up with more and more interesting public relations stories. B2B marketers had it even tougher, because their small markets often meant that advertising and PR were both foreclosed. Their marketing consisted of trade shows and “collateral.”

So, you had your choice between expensive marketing or no marketing, for the most part.

The Internet opens up big opportunities for the skinflints among us. It gives you a chance to do marketing for free—it will cost you time, yes, but very little money.

Which marketers should be skinflint marketers?

  • New businesses. Even though sales is the lifeblood of any business, most new businesses don’t have the money to devote to marketing programs that drive those sales. They need a way to get attention for their products and services without breaking the bank. That’s where skinflint marketing comes in. Spend your time, not your money.
  • Small businesses. Time was that small businesses could not compete effectively with large businesses because they did not have the cash. The Internet takes away a lot of that budget advantage—if you know how to market the skinflint way. Small businesses that devote the time to skinflint marketing will find they can fit marketing into their small budgets.
  • Large businesses. Yes, large businesses. Maybe you need to work in a large business to realize that they don’t have tons of money for marketing, either. Large businesses have budget constraints and tons of red tape to approve all expenditures. And marketing is often the first thing cut when times are tough. Skinflint marketing avoids these problems because spending no money requires no budgets and no approvals.

The Skinflint Guides to Marketing

To provide specific advice for skinflint marketers, I’ve provided guides for particular marketing tactics that allow you to choose free ways to improve your marketing using the Internet.

I have plans to add more guides, but I’m kicking off my skinflint guides with three that most companies need.

  • Creating a Web site. Folks will tell you the “right” way to create a Web site, but often this is a very time-consuming and expensive way, too. How can you get a Web site for free? That’s what skinflint marketers want to know.
  • Search Marketing. This guide has been available for a few years, but I’ve recently updated it with new tips to give you an even bigger edge. Search marketing does not have to be expensive, if you know what to do.
  • Web Metrics. You can’t tell what the value of anything is if you don’t even know how to measure what your customers do. Find out how to measure activity and to improve your Web site by the numbers.

If you have any tips to pass along, please let me know so I can add them to this site and keep expanding this resource. And let me know if there are any other subjects you’d like to see covered—maybe I can take a crack at them.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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