Entrepreneur - - By Andrew Neitlich

More real data from marketing on a shoe string

The non-profit venture I wrote about last week (http://www.actioncorps.org if you are interested) continues to chug forward, and can provide you with some new data about what works and doesn’t. As it turns out, one offer has blown all the others away, easily by a factor of 50-100!

As you may recall, I’ve tried press releases to local and national media, my own network of friends/colleagues, and this Sitepoint blog as ways to get attention.

The only one of the above that has really delivered so far has been a release to a local, obscure online publication, which got me a request to speak at Rotary tomorrow, which will easily get me 50-60 sign ups (when you speak, always have a form that you give to all participants with an offer to get them to sign up).

But the best offer/tactic by far has been my own consulting mailing list plus a special free offer. I sent out a broadcast message asking people to join this venture (which only requires giving an email and name), in exchange for a free leadership ebook valued at $99.

Response has been so overwhelming that I’ve invested in an autoresponder to collect names.

What are lessons here?

1. ALWAYS start where you are. A small list of contacts that know you and trust you almost always does better than a huge list of people that don’t know you. This lesson also applies to choosing a target market, as you will get more clients for less work with a focused market, even if it is smaller than the illusory appeal of 14 million small businesses.

2. A related offer will increase response significantly. In this case, the non-profit venture is about taking on assignments to help those in needs. So a book on leadership is a great premium to offer in exchange for signing up. Free books or guides on your subject of expertise can generate prospect names and show them that you are more than a mere vendor.

Non-profit and profit ventures have obvious differences, but these lessons on operating on a shoe string apply to both.

(BTW, if you want that free book, just sign up and you will get it; I’m now sending it to anyone who joins as the response is too strong to not do across the board).

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