Ten years ago, I would not have counseled any small business to create and produce its own marketing materials. That would have been like counseling a patient to perform his or her own brain surgery.
If there were software today that made brain surgery foolproof, fast, fun and painless, however, I'd say "Have at it." Such software doesn't exist. Happily, though, there is software that makes the creation of profit-producing marketing weapons foolproof, fast, fun and painless. Guerrillas use it.
This new technology can save you an impressive sum of money on production and professional fees, while giving wings to that creative genius lurking within you--waiting all this time for easy-to-use software.
There are certain things I do not advise you to do no matter how motivated you are to save money, however. Don't write your marketing materials unless you're a good writer. And don't use your video camera to shoot your TV spots unless you're trained in the intricacies of TV production. But you can create at least eight potent marketing weapons, each capable of generating serious profits without nibbling at your marketing budget. Consider these:
1. Marketing plan. You can create one of your own by following the seven-sentence structure employed by guerrillas. The seven sentences cover the purpose of your marketing, benefits stressed to achieve that purpose, target audience, weapons you'll use, niche, identity, and budget expressed as a percentage of projected gross sales.
2. Web site. New, easy-to-use software helps you create and publish your own site. Promote it in every offline place you can, and respond to e-mail instantly. Your self-designed site can look dazzling and professional. And keeping it posted on the Web is quite inexpensive. The Internet is like a tidal wave headed toward shore; I hope you're not still in a kayak.
3. Newsletter. Write it yourself or have it written for you, then use software that helps you create an attention-getting newsletter in a half-hour. All you do is point and click, choosing from a galaxy of existing graphic images and newsletter designs. Use 75 percent of it to provide information while selling with the other 25 percent. Mail it out regularly.
4. Brochure. Guerrillas always have brochures to send to people. They prepare colorful brochures that look like a costly designer created them when the truth is that easy-as-pie software did all the heavy lifting. Then, guerrillas run small, targeted ads asking prospects to call or write for their free brochure. It is sent with a letter of thanks.
5. Direct-mail postcard. Savvy small-business owners create eye-catching, multicolored postcards, often in a 6-by-9-inch format, because they know postcard recipients don't get to decide whether to open the envelope. Computers help design and print the postcards, which many guerrillas feel is like printing money.
6. Point-of-purchase display. These powerful displays are created by guerrillas to tie in with their major marketing thrust and generate sales at retail and trade shows.
7. Proposal. Often, the difference between getting a yes and a no is the professional-looking proposal that uses color, graphics and visual excitement to get the prospect to see things your way. Computers can help you design the kinds of proposals that get signatures on your dotted line.
8. Coupons. Guerrillas use computers to print coupons for discounts, free merchandise, consultations, services--anything to intensify the desire to buy what they sell.
I haven't mentioned the multimedia presentations and catalogs, the fliers and flip charts that you and your computer can create in your quest for profits. You're living in a do-it-yourself world. And guerrillas do it.
For more information on the kinds of software you can use to create do-it-yourself marketing materials, see "Entrepreneur's Complete Guide to Software"
Jay Conrad Levinson is author of the internationally acclaimed Guerrilla Marketing series of books and co-founder of Guerrilla Marketing International. For information on the Guerrilla Marketing Newsletter and other products and services, write to P.O. Box 1336, Mill Valley, CA 94942; call (800) 748-6444; or visit the Web site at http://www.gmarketing.com