By Andrew Neitlich

Real data from marketing on a shoestring

By Andrew Neitlich

I just launched an online non-profit aid organization (http://www.actioncorps.org if you are interested), and would like to share with you the lessons in marketing this venture on a shoestring.

First, the initial launch was made with the following marketing efforts:

1. Email to all of my friends, family and colleagues with a crafted email for them to send to their network asking people to sign up.


2. A press release on PRWeb, where I spent about $80 to get the 2-star release.

3. A subsequent press release on Businesswire, where I spent about $160 to do a release to my geographic area, and also to take advantage of hundreds of focused publications that potential volunteers might read (e.g. seniors, philanthropy, education). I like Businesswire historically more than PRWeb, and wanted to test the two to see if the less expensive PRWeb gets results.

4. Local releases to 5 publications where I live, ranging from the local newspaper to my HomeOwner’s Association newsletter.

Here are results:

So far neither PRWeb nor BusinessWire have generated much response (which is to be expected, since PR takes a consistent effort to get momentum). One sign up came from BusinessWire, none from PRWeb. No press inquiries yet.

The emails to my friends and family resulted in some sign ups, though frankly results have been disappointing. I think my own network assumes I’ll email them anyway about this venture, and so didn’t need to sign up (or they are telling me they are not interested, but based on phone conversations, I doubt it).

The BEST response has come from a local release to an online local business news service. That led to numerous sign ups, and an invitation to speak at the local Rotary Club. Speaking there will lead to even more sign ups.

As always, a targeted no-cost effort gets the best result, and will lead to even more results soon.

I will keep you posted as more results come in, and as I continue to market this on a shoestring. Subsequent marketing will need to cost literally $0, so it will all be based on emails, phone calls, etc. to build relationships and partnerships with likely people and organizations. That’s how it works on a shoestring.

  • Angus Pratt

    I came across an article several weeks ago that talked aobut posting in online forums related to your business. That seems to me to be a great thought. The challenge is to create post that market in that subtle online way that encourages people to click on through to your pages to complete the signup or onsell to your products or services.

  • RSymonds

    Don’t forget #5 – blogging at Sitepoint. It would be interesting to see what kind of response this blog post generates as well as the other forms of marketing.

  • Speaking of marketing, you might want to have the META tags (description & keyword) changed on the site. If you view source they read “affordable, website, design, small business”

    Good luck and thanks for sharing.

  • I’m also really interested in knowing how many signups you will get from this blog post. It seems to be an excellent source of traffic. The first thing I did upon reading your post was click the link to your website.

  • aneitlich

    So far just one signup. That’s 4 hours in. Sitepoint does offer excellent traffic, so any of you interested in writing an article should definitely do it, and more of you should post!

  • Eugene

    People are awry of giving out their details. If you’re a registered charity provide details of this including your registered charity number.

  • A great post Andrew. I will be in a similar situation soon with a local children’s charity so I’ll follow your example for certain.

  • lazymouse

    Thanks for the tip! I also target local prospects. Although I occasionally get enquiries from around the UK, especially through Google, local ones turn into sales whereas national enquiries are usually time wasters.

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