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How I marketed my business on a shoestring

Monday, 17 January 2011 | By Tammy May

For any business, marketing plays a key role in its success. Get it right and you can be flooded with customers and enquiries alongside building your brand name. Get it wrong and you can turn people off, confuse them and ruin a brand.

 

In my experience, it is about appealing to your target audience and remaining consistent in your message.

 

I started MyBudget 10 years ago and the aim then is still the same now: help get our clients out of debt, teach them valuable financial skills and get them saving again. This message has flowed through all of our marketing.

 

There are two specific marketing tactics that we have utilised at MyBudget since we were a start-up and continue to implement now.

 

Firstly, to encourage client endorsement to build up the client base. Secondly, to put a face to the brand to build trust. In MyBudget’s case, this is me.

 

Both of these cost you very little, if anything, and are ideal first marketing steps.

 

Encouraging our current clients to refer friends, family and associates continues today and is something we regard as highly valuable.

 

Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful ways to endorse a product, service or business because people feel they can trust it, as the person telling them about it has already experienced it.

 

For me as a customer of other businesses, this is often what will get me in the door and I will be sure to let others know if it is worthwhile.

 

At MyBudget, we try and formalise the word-of-mouth process a little more by running ‘Refer A Friend’ competitions quarterly.

 

It may only cost you a few hundred dollars as an incentive to have clients bring their friends in but it is well worthwhile because often they don’t need to be “sold” or “converted” as the existing client has already done this leg work.

 

Once the referral process has started it often feeds off itself. A client who has been referred is happy to do their friend the same favour and let them know about the business.

 

The idea of client endorsement runs through to our use of client testimonials in marketing materials. We use client testimonials in our television ads, website and information packs. Similarly to the referral process, it is a third party endorsement that is straight from the client’s mouth into a potential client’s ear.

 

Testimonials also show that our existing customers were just like them before they joined up with MyBudget and communicate the relief they have felt since using us to help them get out of debt.

 

There is often a lot of shame and denial associated with people who are on a downward spiral of debt, and by seeing that it is okay, and in fact worthwhile, to seek help from MyBudget helps people to pick up the phone and call our consultants.

 

In our business it is all about the clients and the idea of using them in our marketing certainly communicates this philosophy and attitude.

We also made a conscious decision at the beginning to put a face and name to the brand rather than just having our logo.

 

Being the founder and owner of MyBudget, no one else is going to have as much passion or believe in what we do more than me. It shows I am proud of and can confidently stand by the brand name and the service we offer.

 

Obviously we will need to rethink things if the company was ever sold. This is where establishing a solid marketing strategy is important so that it can respond to these changes and prepare for new phases.

 

By putting a face to the name of MyBudget it shows that we are real people not just a call centre and truly care about our clients. As the business grows, it shows I’m still involved with it and still as keen to see people use our service as I was on the day we started.

 

Being a figurehead of the business means people feel as if they know you. Before they have walked in the door they have a rapport with you because they have seen you on television, quoted in the newspaper, talking on radio or on the website.

 

It helps to build trust through showing you understand their situation and actually care what the impact is on their lives.

 

Marketing is such an important business tool and in the early stages it does not need to cost the earth, it just needs to be effective.

 

Tammmy May is founder and director of MyBudget.