“I’m a small business. I don’t have a marketing budget.”

wallet, no money, marketing

Marketing dollars?

I get this often when I’m dealing with small business owners. First off – you should have money to market your business.

Do you have a sales budget aka how much revenue do you expect to make this year? Good. You have that number. Now – at a bare minimum – take 2% of that number. There’s your marketing budget. It would be best to have 10%, but let’s start with 2%.

So you have a budget now. What do you do with it? Whether it’s $500 or $500,000, find as many things as possible that you can own. What do I mean? Marketing dollars are often spent throwing money at this thing, and that thing. IT’S BETTER TO OWN SOMETHING! Take your $100, print some sales letter or brochures you did up in Word, and deliver them to every single apartment in the complex beside your business (or to every house on a street located near your business). Then do it again a week or two later. You need to hit as many people over the head with your message. The tricky part is ensuring the message MATTERS TO THEM. More on that here…

(Remember – I don’t give a shit about you, until you can do something for me. Whether it’s nourish me, allow me to keep an extra bit of jingle in my jeans, or help me out in some way, shape or form.)

You need to do this repeatedly. SOOOO many of you try something out once, don’t see results, and then say, “Well, that didn’t work.” Of course it didn’t work. Repetition Repetition Repetition.

Remember how you were taught in school? It probably went something like this… At the beginning of the class (or semester) your teacher would tell you what they were going to teach you, then teach you it, then review what they taught you. Repetition Repetition Repetition.

This is how our brains have been programmed since kindergarten, so start using the philosophy in your marketing. Find something you can own. Then repeat repeat repeat.

It sometimes takes me 12 – 15 contacts until I make a sale. I repeat, repeat, repeat my process. And you know what, when I call, walk into an appointment or see one of my prospects at an event…they immediately KNOW WHO I AM. It should be the same way with you and your business.

If you’re buying radio ads (for example), and you don’t have money to throw around like the ‘big guys’, again find something you can own. Maybe it’s an hour every Monday over the next few weeks. Maybe it’s an entire week. Whatever it is, find something you can own, then repeat repeat repeat.

1) Find money or find time to focus on marketing
2) Find something you can own
3) Repeat Repeat Repeat

As a gift (because I love you), tell me ONE marketing opportunity you have at the moment (print, direct mail, radio, tv, social media, whatever…) and leave it in the comments below (or email me or tweet me). The gift – I’ll tell you how to EXPLOIT that opportunity with repetition. I’ve bought nearly every type of media, and used as many media channels as possible to further the brands I work with, and myself. For being a loyal reader it’s the least I can do.

Love you,


Three things you can learn from the WestJet / Air Canada checked bag fee

WestJet, Air Canada

WestJet & Air Canada

Ah the great squabble over checked bag fees in Canada. First WestJet tacked on a $25 fee for your first checked bag. The subsequent uproar followed. Then a couple days later – to little or no surprise – Air Canada added the same $25 fee to the first checked bag. Oh what fun!

Looking back – it’s easy to say both companies dropped the ball. It’s not so much the fee, it’s how it was announced. Out of the blue…BANG! You’re paying more, at least that’s the thought process of you and me (the consumer). In reality, you already paid this fee. It was just included in the overall price. Now, airline tickets are less expensive (that’s the plan anyway), and if you want to check a bag, then the $25 fee applies. WestJet came out and said most people don’t check a bag, therefore most people will be SAVING money on airline travel. Unfortunately, there was no lead up to this or education from the folks at WestJet.

Here’s what WestJet could have done:

1) Ran an education campaign leading into the addition of the checked bag fee. In this education campaign they could have told as many consumers as possible about the fee.
2) EXPLAIN why they were adding the fee.
3) EXPLAIN how – in the end – you’ll end up saving money on air travel (if this is the case).

This could have been done in the typical WestJet way by using humour, and honesty. Instead, you were blindsided. It’s like getting woken up in the middle of the night by your wife who tells you she’s divorcing you. Out of the blue…WTF!

You end up saving on travel even with the addition of this fee, but all you notice is another fee from those fuckers in the airline industry. And it’s very difficult to change the brains mind. This easily could have been alleviated by a short EDUCATIONAL campaign by WestJet. Of course, they didn’t alas the public fire-storm.

Here’s what Air Canada could have done:

1) Seeing the WestJet blunder, and the ensuing revolt, jump on the opportunity to say WE DON’T charge baggage fees.
2) Then go on to explain the VALUE you add to the consumer (because an Air Canada ticket will probably be more expensive than a WestJet ticket now).
3) “Yes, we may charge more than the other guys, but here’s why…”
4) “At Air Canada we say NO to fees. While the other guys are saying YES to this that, and everything else, we say NO. There’s a reason why we’re called Air Canada. Because we’re for Canadians. Canadians who say NO to fees.”

It pretty much writes itself. BUT the airline industry failed you again. Both airlines are charging a fee for the first checked bag, and you’re irate because they didn’t educate you on WHY they’re charging the fee.

Here’s what you can take away from these blunders:

1) Follow what your competitors are doing. You may be too busy to do this, but it’s essential that you know what’s going on in the marketplace. To make life easier – set up a Google Alert under your competitors name.
2) When your competition blunders – take advantage. You don’t have to do an outright attack ad (aka political ads), but it’s a great platform to DIFFERENTIATE yourself from your competition.
3) THIS IS THE PERFECT OPPORTUNITY TO TELL YOUR STORY. One of the best at this is David Keam from Best Sleep Centre’s in Manitoba. Do yourself a favour by taking a few minutes to check out their website. He educates you on what the market is doing. He’s not schilling his product. He’s giving you the information you need to make an educated buying decision. And he does it by telling a story.

Love you,


Tell me a story…your story


What can you learn from Pixar?

You’ve probably heard ‘Content is King’ at some point and time. It’s just as relevant today as it was when the internet, and blogs started taking off.

The same is true when it comes to your advertising. Your message / story (aka content) is key. Who are you? What do you do? And why is it important to ME (the consumer).

Most advertising works this way: here’s my product, here are some features, buy it. It’s safe, lazy and ineffective, but everyone does it, so you follow the leader and do the same.

Think about how you buy for a second? Why did you buy the vehicle you did? Why did you purchase Doritos over the No Name brand? You may not know it, but you did it because you bought the story of the brand. You felt connected in some way to it, so you support it. You FEEL something for the brand, and you connect with what it says about YOU.

You purchased a Mercedes because it says you can afford it, you enjoy comfort, and you’re not afraid to show off. You purchased Doritos because you’re hip, you’re young, and you’re not cheap. Even though you may not be all these things, you associate yourself with these attributes. You are who you think you are. You are apart of that TRIBE.

Your business / personal brand

I really got to thinking about the message / story last night while I was watching a collection of Pixar short films. Yes, they were doing amazing things with animation (feature) but it was the STORY (benefit) that connected to the audience. It was the STORY that made people BUY Pixar and what they were doing.

You can follow Pixar’s lead by telling your story in your advertising. This is sooo important if you’re a new business (or if you just switched jobs and you care about your personal brand. ps. YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL BRAND).

Who are you? What do you stand for? Why do you exist? Why is that important? By telling your story you will connect with the people who will eventually become your customers. It may not happen right away, but over time it will.

No one cares about your product, it’s features or why they should buy it. They care about you, your story, and how it benefits them. The local businesses who are uber successful know this and they tell you about it in their advertising. It’s how they compete with the large international businesses. They connect, and make fans. And fans will pay a lot more to YOU because of YOUR story.

It’s how Pixar got the ear of Disney, and it’s how they made numerous successful shorts and feature films (including the best animated – maybe even feature film – of all time, Toy Story). The lesson is in the name. Stop shoving your product down my throat. Tell me a story, and if I connect with that story…I will support you for life.

Love you,