December 22, 2014

Tell Us Your Most Outrageously Creative Money-Saving or Business Growth Tip

creative new ideaTimes like these call for creativity in your business. We asked a panel of prominent business people, authors and business bloggers a simple question to gather ideas for how to be creative in your business.

The question we asked? This:

“What is the most outrageously creative thing you’ve done to save money or take your business to the next level?”

We’d like you to weigh in and share your ideas — but first, read what our panel had to say:

John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing - “I had a client that we convinced to run a lumpy mail campaign – direct mail with some dimension to it. We created a series of messages with stuff in the boxes to match the message. Two cost savings measures – 1) one mailing had a keys to success theme – we went to a hardware store and got boxes of old miscut keys – they were thrilled to get rid of them. 2) to invite people to a seminar we served great BBQ and used the rib boxes from the well known BBQ place as carriers for the invitations. No cost for the creative boxes and the rib joint was thrilled.”

Jonathan Fields, Career Renegade“A year into owning a yoga studio in 2002, I wanted to create national buzz, so I approached the head of a university athletic department and convinced them to run a study that measured how many calories yoga burned. I then offered an exclusive on the study to a top womens’ fitness magazine editor, who not only wanted to write about it, but be in it. The results were great and when she asked if I had a video she could write about in the mag, I said yes…then went out and made one before the issue hit the street.”

Mike Michalowicz, ToiletPaperEntrepreneur.com “To save money on legal and accounting work one creative thing I did was visit local colleges to speak with the professors who taught the appropriate subjects. In return for their legal and accounting help I agreed to be an entire case study for their class, so the students could learn from my experience building my company. When it comes to office furniture I was able to get every piece I have for my current business for FREE! One e-mail to other businesses asking if they were moving and wanted to get rid of their furniture was all it took! I was able to get high quality office furniture in amazing condition for a 10 person office, with some high class office chairs which normally cost over $500/each!”

Jim Kukral, TheBizWebCoach.com “One of the smartest things I’ve done in the past is to waive my consulting fee and tell the customer to ‘pay me what you think it was worth, or nothing at all.’ 99% of time they pay me as much or more than I would have charged. The key is delivering your best work so they are blown away. If you can’t do that it’s probably not a good idea.”

John Mariotti, The Enterprise - “When negotiating deals with customers to be their supplier, I often ask ‘What will you do if you drive us out of business?’ Sure, there is excess capacity somewhere for almost everything, but it is not all created equal. At the least, a customer who pressures a supplier so hard that it ruins the supplier, is also ruining its own business’ potential. Remind them of that fact when the negotiations get tough.”

Scott Allen, About.com Entrepreneurs Guide -- “For the past few years, I’ve committed at least 4-5 hours a week to building passive income streams outside my core business such as: royalties on books and other info-products, affiliate sales, and so on. So many entrepreneurs have to shut down their business and go back to a j-o-b because of cash flow issues, and very often they’re temporary – just a month or two. With a baseline of passive income, I’m much more confident about the survival of my business, regardless of circumstances, and am able to make better financial and strategic decisions because I’m not constantly in a cash flow bind.

Katja Presnal, Skimbaco Lifestyle — “It was all viral, organic & social media marketing. I put together a gift basket for Tom Cruise – he endorsed a product from it on the Oprah show. I used less than $100 & close to 100 blogs wrote about it the first time. It’s airing again today and we’ve got 30 more blogs who have written about it!”

Dan Schawbel, Publisher, Personal Branding Magazine - “After a few months writing for magazines, trying to build a profile and get my brand name out there, I decided to break free and start my own magazine. I really had no idea what I was doing, so I emailed Guy Kawasaki and he sent me his interview with Donald Trump, which, not surprisingly, became a big hit and launch platform for my first issue. The day the issue came out, Fast Company covered it, and it took my business to the next level.”

Denise O’Berry, Just for Small Business — “I created a skit that was presented at a local business association meeting which demonstrated the power of strategic alliances in servicing customers. I partnered with a computer / technolgy consulting firm and a customer retention firm and we told a story of a client who had a need for business improvement, but didn’t know where to turn. We showed how one connection could benefit both the client and our businesses. All three of our businesses realized a 50% plus increase in sales as a result.”

Paul Singh, ResultsJunkies.com “Here’s how I got more referrals than I could handle. I made a list of the top 10 companies that I really wanted to work with. Then, I documented a few high-level strategic ways I’d grow their business, and some tactical tips they could improve immediately. When I sent the document (which was usually anywhere from 5-7 pages long) via email and snail mail to the founder, I always made sure that they understood that I was giving them this advice free. More importantly, I made it really clear that I’d be happy to give them as much advice as they’d like for free. The only catch is that I’d want to send them a proposal if they wanted me to actually do the work myself.”

Ivana Taylor, StrategyStew.com — “At a dreadfully boring rubber industry trade show, I started asking passers-by if we could run their “Gummi Bears” through our automated rubber testing equipment. It was a great way to show how the robotics worked, and it created a huge buzz throughout the show. Soon customers were stopping by and handing us all kinds of food to test. While we were watching several of us came up with a line dance that mimicked the instrument – for the first time customers became physically engaged with the equipment and still talked about it months later.”

Anita Campbell, Small Business Trends “I quit caring about doing a “perfect” job for a particular report. I got incredibly busy and knew the only way I could finish this particular project was by writing quickly and not editing it 16 times like I normally do. The downside of being a perfectionist is the missed opportunity cost (the business opportunities you miss out on while you’re re-working something to death). In this case, I sat down and just starting dictating. The report was vibrant and let my personality and humor show through. The client loved it and wanted more more more — just like that!”

Now it’s your turn! We want to hear from you. What is the single most outrageously creative thing you’ve done to save money or take your business to the next level? Leave a comment below with your tip, in 75 words or less.

We’ll take the best tips and include them in a our downloadable “Get Outrageously Creative” document, giving you credit for your contribution. And – we will hold a random drawing to give away a wireless HP Officejet J4680 Color All-in-One printer, free to one lucky commenter.  Deadline to enter is January 18, 2009 at 11:59 PM California time. Deadline to enter is now closed — thank you all for participating!

84 Comments ▼

Anita Campbell - CEO


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses, and also serves as CEO of TweakYourBiz.com.

84 Reactions

  1. Start with a great product or service your customers can’t live without, then give it away for FREE!! If your customers really can’t live without it, they’ll still be lining up at your door when you DO start charging for it.

    Matt

  2. Make your clients feel valued. Can be as simple as a quick email just to say hi. You can never communicate enough, but listen more than you talk. Treat each client as an individual.

    Not the most original tips, but been invaluable for gaining repeat business.

  3. I had a chiropractor client who was trying to network with Medical Doctors, but was having difficulty getting through the front desk staff to meet with them. So we created a dimensional bonding campaign where we sent the doctor a beautiful pie from a local bakery with just one piece missing. The accompanying letter said, “When you’ve referred to other chiropractic offices, you may have found ‘missing pieces’ that left you feeling a little empty. But at our clinic, we’re all about the ‘AND’!” My client then followed it up with a personal phone call. You better believe he got a great response–and a lot of happy thank yous! :)

  4. I cannot stress enough the power of just asking. Call all of the company’s you do regular business with. Ask them to lower their rates for services and products. I think you’ll be amazed at the response. I have developed my whole business around the strategy that “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”. I save my clients thousands of dollars every year in their telecommunications expenses. Knowing what to ask for, and actually asking for it, on average has reduced my clients yearly telecom expenses by about 35%. I’m so confidant in my ability to reduce their expenses, that I will only bill my clients if I am able to realize savings for them.

    What do you have to lose?

  5. Show Link Love everywhere. We’ve done two movie nights in neighborhoods. Both times we’ve invited businesses who are community oriented to participate. This made a big event bigger and allowed for greater community appeal and tons of networking. In return, others have invited Crossroads United Methodist Church to participate in their events. By linking online to local businesses I frequent and appreciate, I’ve been able to encourage new people to become customers.

    Its all about connections.

  6. A very large German car manufacturer had tried for 5 years internally to build a certain software product, but it was a long way from being complete … being German, it was over-engineered. We had a serviceable alternative product, but ours was only 65% complete — really little more than a prototype. My husband managed to snag a one-hour meeting with a key executive. It was our last-ditch effort, as we had triple mortgaged our home and asked employees to skip a pay check.

    On Monday night he got on a plane and flew to Germany. Tuesday he got right off the plane and met with the executive for one hour (all the time the executive would give him). My husband was his most persuasive, and managed to convince him that we had a product ready for delivery. The German executive said yes, we want it. My husband called and said “we got the contract … now we’d better finish the product!” and jumped on the first plane home.

    With the contract in hand, our team finished the product in record time, in about 6 weeks. Our business was launched. With that contract in hand we soon got others. It took some stretching of the truth to get that first contract, but if my husband had not stretched the truth our business would be gone now.

  7. I had never had any contact with Guy Kawasaki but loved his books and blog. On a lark I sent a very contrarian top 10 list to him on P.R. – and he posted it on his How to Change the World blog on May, 24, 2007 with the title The Top 10 Reasons Why P.R. Doesn’t Work. That led to more conversations with him, making amazing contacts, getting new newsletter subscribers, prospects and clients, and getting testimonials from Guy for my products and services, which dramatically increased my business growth.

  8. I’m a professional speaker and wanted to present at more conventions. I needed to get in front of meeting planners. I bought an email list which was a directory of associations in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. I leased a training room for a day and held a free, one-woman speaker showcase on my most popular topic that people can’t resist, “Conquer Email Overload with Outlook.” Yep, they came, and I’ve been presenting at conferences for meeting planners ever since.

  9. Using Tony Buzan’s Mindmapping technique you should retire to the quietness of your study and ponder how your world has changed.
    You should identify all the negatives and how they will affect your business.
    You should then identify the positives and how they will affect your business.
    Then you should brainstorm all the things that need to be done to cover your backside and exploit the hell out of the current situation.
    Become an opportunity spotter!

  10. In the last year as a purchaser of raw materials for the production of welding electrodes, I invited one of our major suppliers to an open discussion on how to increase our business together. Our supplier opened the hooks and told us how much margin they needed on their product and we gave detailed prognosis on our consumption. About 10 years later, I am sitting on the other side of the table, and is trying to sell a renewable energy solution to this company that could use for his business and too sell to external parties.

    Scott Allen: I am interested to hear more about how you have created a passive income stream. My goal is to have a residual income as an extra income in the long run. I am working part time as an independent consultant for a network marketing company, building a small organization of team members step by step.

  11. Hi Katja Presnal,

    Any tips of the viral and organic marketing you mentioned?

  12. Besides being a financial/trading coach, I am also a painter.
    I use to be a private banker.
    Invited potential clients to an art gallery with my paintings ;
    the gallery was sponsored by the bank I was working for ; asked my friends at the bank to show up and give out business cards

  13. For online marketing / internet advertising: Use the “Wisdom of the Language” approach — it is far more effective (and also far more efficient [aka “cheap”]) than traditional / pay-per-click (ppc) advertising.

  14. We co-work (share an office) with another company. We’re all able to have our private offices and can even collaborate with work. I have a large private office with a huge window overlooking “Main Street” for less than $200 per month.

  15. Without doubt it was telling a carpet-cleaning client of mine just to go out and buy up all the defunct telephone numbers his ex-competitors had been using (one had died, one was ill, and one was just plain out of business).

    For an investment of about

  16. We give our e-commerce platform away for free. And we offer it without ads and with hosted domain for 19.95 a year. Or we offer a 2,000 product capable website for $30 a month with no set up and no contract.

    The reason is that small business needs the chance to run a business online with a capable e-commerce engine but at a low cost. With this economy, great e-commerce tools at a LOW cost let the small business entrepreneur continue to sell and expand market reach without having to spend hardly at all.

    http://www.fastcommerce.com

  17. Wow, there are so many fantastic ideas here. . . Jim Kukral was brave and it worked out for him and I love Jonathan’s Yoga story, too.

  18. Jim Kukral, TheBizWebCoach.com – “One of the smartest things I’ve done in the past is to waive my consulting fee and tell the customer to ‘pay me what you think it was worth, or nothing at all.’ 99% of time they pay me as much or more than I would have charged. The key is delivering your best work so they are blown away. If you can’t do that it’s probably not a good idea.”

    Jim, just like Chris said, you seemed to be the bravest one here and honestly I like that idea. Especially if someone is satisfied with the service you gave them, giving them the option on how much they think you deserve really has that psychological factors to them. And that idea is really a wonderful psychological attack, Jim.

  19. Oops, I just noticed you’re giving away a FREE HP Officejet J4680 Color All-in-One printer. Wow. What a wonderful Christmas gift for the lucky commenter.

  20. This tip was emailed to me, so I include it here because it is very creative:

    Unlike most lawyers, I struck out on my own without so much as a single client. I walked from the top to bottom of every accessible skyscraper in downtown Manhattan and would stop in every law office to ask if they had cases that had become too insignificant or troublesome to be worthwhile. Within a couple of months, I had 50 files which were mostly other lawyers’ junk; but I earned enough legal fees from those cases to carry me until I had brought in bigger and better clients of my own.

    Marshall R. Isaacs
    Attorney At Law
    NYC

  21. When we launched p2w2, I asked all my fellow alumni (~2000) of my school to do one thing that takes just 10 seconds – put http://www.p2w2.com in their google talk, Skype, Yahoo, Twitter, facebook, or AOL status messages. A LOT of them did it. And when they did, all their friends were curious what p2w2 was. It was free advertising! And we got many visitors to our site.

    Chaitanya
    http://www.p2w2.com

  22. I found a niche market that was becoming heavily saturdated and did something that no one else could. I called, met and built relationships with clients, helped them understand the value of the product and what impact it could have on their businesses and in a nutshell “went traditional” in a largely “pure web” (competitive) space.

  23. I sent the workers home. Telecommuting has put more money back in my pocket than when we doubled the sales force. Minimal overhead, and all employees where willing to take a small pay cut to work from home as well!

  24. I use fatwallet.com to find deals – I refuse to buy anything online without a deal.

  25. I’ve given several lessons at local colleges (in the commons) or at business network meetings (similar to The Chamber of Commerce) and have spoken about simple strategies to build a presence online with a website. I have networked with some amazing people who enjoyed the lessons and have received several referrals from the people I’ve met there.

  26. I’m a visible figure online, but I realize that having a visible presence offline is also of utmost importance. Whether that means going to those networking parties with my industry colleagues for a few hours or attending a trade show in several different parts of the country (or even engaging in an interview where I was able to talk about your expertise), I’ve found that it’s really important to put a face to my name online (and obviously to be consistent in my messaging both in text and verbally). Obviously, that means taking the initiative to network all the time — or at least often enough. (I’m introverted in “real life,” though. Really!)

    Of course, it helps to actually upload a photo of yourself online so that those individuals looking for you offline may be able to come up to you and say, “hey, you’re Tamar, right? I recognized your avatar.” It helps kick-start the conversation. :)

  27. If I’m working on a high value client with several other vendors, I’ll team up with the other vendors and get big gifts for our key contacts using http://www.eDivvy.com to spread out the cost.

    This strengthens the relationship with the other vendors ( sometimes leading to new business ) and allow us to give the client a gift that is something they would want, like an iPod Touch ( rather than a bunch of smaller, less cool gifts such as See’s Candies ).

  28. I moved from a high cost area of metro NY to the midwest. Not that I could have said that the economy would have turned out the way it did, but I just wanted to continue to grow my business without being in a rate race.

    That said, my 15 year mortgage plus real estate escrow is LESS than what some of my friends back home pay in real estate taxes every month.

    Outrageous? Maybe it isn’t for everyone, but I like where I live and work and can always hop a plane back to NY if I’m really that homesick.

  29. If you want something, ask for it.

    Here’s a few things I’ve gotten over the past few years, simply by asking for what I want:

    – Thousands of dollars in free products to try out in exchange for writing a blog post.

    – Free office space plus utilities. Currently I’m in a corner office on the tenth floor of a downtown office building and I don’t pay a cent for me or my employee to be here.

    – I’ve met, interviewed and spent one-on-one time with some high profile people in my industry merely by sending out an email or making a phone call. (However, I did chase one of them down in a mall in Las Vegas one time to introduce myself. It ended in us hanging out over coffee for an hour.)

    – I recently landed my company’s biggest contract because I asked another client to refer us to that person.

    So many times I see people hold themselves back because they won’t just ask for what they want.

    If you want something, stifle your pride and fear and just ask!

  30. When I first started our business, we had VERY little capital and an office to support. Clearly no money for advertising. But We had a small inkjet printer and some Photoshop talent. With that we created a flier using 8.5×11 paper, 2 fliers per page, and cut them in half. We walked through almost every neighborhood in this town and left flyers at the doorstep telling people about our computer repair business. That got us through our first 4 months of business, a little personal elbow and knee grease! Within 3 years we were a Small Business Award winner for our region, 1 of only 4 awarded in 2008! I think this ingenuity had something to do with our success.

  31. Between sales figures, marketing campaigns, spreadsheets and business plans, we often forget what this is all about: humans. Markets and businesses are nothing more than people that get together. The Cluetrain Manifesto stated that markets are conversations. Well, I would go even one step further. Markets are people. Period. Keep that in mind and all your business decisions will become lighter.

  32. Bargain hunting on eBay and craigslist is a great place to start, but to really get the lowest possible prices you need to find items that other people overlook. The site TypoBuddy.com lets you search ebay and craigslist for misspelled items.

  33. I am going to have to build off what Daniel Scocco said. Business is about human interaction. You need to build strong relationships to be successful and the craziest thing I did was to take the idea of “never eat alone” and apply it to my life. Now, when I eat lunch, I am always meeting with someone new. Clients, friends, or just plain people. It is the single most important thing I have ever done.

  34. We walked through almost every neighborhood in this town and left flyers at the doorstep telling people about our computer repair business. That got us through our first 4 months of business, a little personal elbow and knee grease!

  35. We go out of our way to help customers out even if we don’t sell the exact product they are looking for. One time, we spent a couple hours trying to locate a particular item for a customer(that we didn’t carry at the time – wedding parasols) and we were able to help her track them down just in time for her wedding. We didn’t make a single cent but that one simple act of kindness brought in dozens of referrals from this one customer alone. Word of mouth is a major component of any business. All acts of kindness will eventually be reciprocated.

  36. This is a great article. Good out of the box thinking. Special note goes to Paul Singh and Jim Kukral. Very innovative.

  37. Everyone has such wonderful ideas. I’m going to try and implement all of them in some way or another over the next few months.

    One thing we’ve done in our restaurant business that has consistently helped our bottom line is DELIVERY! Although our delivery area is limited, we always tell our customers who are outside of our area, that we will deliver to them if they place an order big enough, (generally $40).

    Customers remember this when they’re in a bind and want our great food, but don’t have the time to come and pick it up. They place a big order and others who haven’t had or heard of SoupMan in their office/building in a round about way become customers. They also tell others about having been served the “Best Soup in Town!”

  38. Great article from some very innovative thinkers, its a bit like buying a ‘best of cd’!

    Thanks for the great ideas.

  39. Our agency was hired to reposition and relaunch a well-known ERP software solution. We knew we needed to have outrageous creative because we did not have an outrageous budget! So our creative director created a campaign featuring businesses as beehives – we tested it with senior executives and the results were fantastic. We created a giant model of a honey bee for photography, wrote long-copy ads telling all about honey bees and how they communicate in large complex environments, and build 6 landing pages with unique URLs. Then we ran national business press and trade ads featuring the URLs. And, on the morning of the launch, we hired teams of artists to do chalk art of the ads on the sidewalks outside commuter train stations, key clients and the offices of the competition.

  40. Further to my post – we told leading media outlets what we were up to and got great free PR coverage of the launch. And, we selected one B to B media partner based on what added value we could create together, rather than investing in a number of publications – the leading publisher loved our idea and we were able to save our client tons of money and create great impact over a longer time period than we would normally have been able to afford.

  41. There are some great innovative ideas on this blog, my actions to save on costs were much more simple. I currently run a very small (5 employee) online sales company, selling outdoor products and apparel for hiking, backpacking, camping, etc. Although I do have a home store most of our business is done online. Last month we processed over 900 internet orders. Because we do the majority of our transactions through the internet most payments come from credit cards. Six months ago I began researching new online processing services, and switched from my current provider to a relatively new service. This has increased my net profits by 5% and the cost to change to the new services was minmal. The company I used was Swipe Physics (www.swipephysics.com), but I suggest to an internet dominated business to revaluate their card processing services and consider an upgrade.

  42. I don’t think this idea is very outrageous but when I tell people, they always say Duh – why didn’t I think of that.

    In our business, we pay out a lot of checks for pet insurance claims. Instead of setting up a special check printer, stuffing envelopes and paying for stamps, I use our bank’s bill pay feature. It’s absolutely free, the checks are guaranteed to arrive by a certain date, and they’ll even do all the work to investigate lost checks. We save a great deal of money doing that and even better, there’s no fuss for me.

    We also do everything electronically so only email pdf docs for our policies and our claims explanations – that saves a lot of money and trees too.

  43. I have created a “Business COOP Assistance Program” (the BCAP). The BCAP is a “Grass Roots Concept”, and will bring the business and local communities closer together than ever before. BCAP is directed to all of the current operating and potential start-up small & mid-size business entrepreneurs out there who are struggling close to failure and/or having other financial or operational problems. This idea or vision involves “Giving back to our Business Community” a version of “Pay it Forward”. This “Grass Root Concept” will create our “New Industrial Revolution”. In order to begin the “New Industrial Revolution”, we must bring back the manufacturing and other needed service industries. Before doing that, we must begin re-training or teaching a new workforce.

  44. I’m a consultant and worked with an Automotive Supply business that was terribly strapped for cash flow. We reviewed their store and layout and discovered they had a huge inventory that was tying up most of their cash. They talked with their suppliers and discovered that nearly all of them would take back part of the inventory that was not selling and credit their accounts. This lowered their accounts payable within days and greatly relieved the stress on their cash flow. ASK! Not every business will be able to do this, but it will work for some of them.

  45. Quite simply — share information freely. I found an opportunity to speak at an event, which turned into 4 more, etc. Now, I’m a subject matter expert in the community. By freely sharing and offering advice, paying business has improved significantly.

  46. Giving away free gas or free groceries whenever someone signs up for a membership…they get their membership free and remember us every month when they get their gas or groceries gift card in the mail.

  47. Okay so we’re all in this “economy” together – yes? So the Best most outrageous TIP I can share is we ALL need to learn how to play well with others and guess what, it doesn’t cost a red penny.

    Example: 10 entrepreneurial women business owners – each accomplished but struggling form “Peer Power” a group to share specialty knowledge with each other. Cost of putting group together **FREE**, Cost of knowledge sharing **FREE** – outcome PRICELESS – The author, the branding maven, the marketer, the internet guru,the psychotherapist, the realtor, the Virtual Assistant and the facial recognition expert all benefited from learning from one another and their business REVENUES shot through the roof – Amazing, all from learning to play well with others.

  48. Create a distinct and memorable experience. To attract well-heeled prospects to an exhibit sponsored by a contemporary gallery and a financial services firm, we took one of the featured artist’s paintings, cut it into 50 squares, wrote the invitation on the back of the painted squares, packaged the square in an elegant box and delivered the boxes to targeted prospects. Response was outstanding and is still talked about.

  49. Take one for the team.

    Do personal spending freezes. Are you an owner drawing a salary? If so, cut back your personal spending and salary for a set period of time. Use that money instead to fund new supplies, employee performance rewards, pay bills, etc.

    We often think that we need new, flashy things because they temporarily make us feel better. In reality we don’t need these things at all.

    You can set trends in your organization by being the first to step out. If you are asking people to watch budgets closely or take pay-cuts, do it first. If you are a manager trying to influence your boss to spend less, give yourself a pay-cut for the company. They will follow and you will be noticed.

    Take one for the team and the team will follow suit.

  50. I had the opportunity to visit with a successful businessman in Mexico and we were discussing the things he had done to create wealth. As we were sharing dinner, I noticed that he tore all of the napkins they had in half. He said that they only needed to use half a napkin and cutting that cost in half was a major factor in his wealth. I recognized that was not the only factor, but there are many things that business owners can do to cut costs by changing habits related to consumption (Print using EconoMode to save ink, print less documents, etc.).

  51. I mail hand written notes to prospects. Included is some information that I would have presented if we were meeting in person. A few days later another. Each note is different, maybe an apology for not meeting sooner. After several mailings, I call for an appointment.

    Instead of 16 hour days of driving, gasoline expense and 2% conversions, its 4 hour work days and (so far) about 10% conversions and 1/4 the gasoline bill.

  52. I run a dog sitting business. When I first started out I went around to all the local vets offices and brought cookies and a green plant to each. This was very hard for me because I am shy. I didn’t think I had the guts to do it, but I knew that I had to find customers some how. I had lost my job a year earlier and had not been able to find another job. Luckily the first office manager was very sweet. Her smile gave me confidence. After that it was easier to visit each office. Now I check in every few months and bring cookies or flowers. Doing the visits has helped spread word of mouth and grow a clientele through referrals.

  53. Some people think it is crazy to revamp advertising in a recession, I learned businesses which invest more into advertising, whether monetary or sweat equity, they come out better at the end of the slump.

    During this great recession we’re in, we’ve invested so much more into advertising and poking into social networking and media to get our product more familiar.

  54. I use the same principle I used as a youth. I would go out to a construction job and tell the employer that I would work the day for free and after seeing my ability they could either hire me or run me off. I use this in my seo work. I grab a site off the net, put it in my site builder, optimize it for generic traffic and then contact the site owner. You’ll be surprised how much work this brings in.

  55. From the day I have started my company, I have been OPEN about it. In fact, I started blogging about the company from day 1 – the idea and the details.
    I was a little concerned before I started but being open has been the best thing I could have done – people help so much more when they KNOW what I am doing. @guykawasaki connected me to people. @savvyauntie helped me with answers and contacts. The questions people are asking (even competition!) only helps me think harder and make better decisions. Being open about my startup has also kick started my marketing!Most of all, it helps my passion shine through when I do not have to worry about being secretive!
    Unless you have an idea that someone can run away with and do something about it tomorrow, it is always smart to just talk about what you are doing.It is all about the execution and not being secretive highly enables execution!

  56. I got sick of being treated in my bank like they are doing me a favor. In fact, have learned from a rockstar accountant that openining and off-shore bank account is incredibly profitable in both better interest rate as well as potential law suits for my business. However, the was one out of many successful strategies.

    Since his tips and advices turned into a money saving snowball, I’ve decided to write with a business partner a hands-on ebook about the tricks and tips that could save you BIG money. http:/www.themoneyfesto.com

  57. Years ago we took over a struggling bar/restaurant/billiards venue. We put quite a bit of time into overhauling the interior and the branding and now we needed to think about how to create some local buzz! We contacted all the radio stations in the area and invited them to have their Xmas holiday staff parties at our venue (Free Booze for all staff!) in exchange for some on-air plugs promoting our venue. We were now being promoted frequently on 3 of the 4 top radio stations in the area. It took less than 3 weeks for us to be lined up every Friday & Saturday and less than 11 months to receive an impressive offer to sell. SOLD, and we moved on to our next biz venture!

  58. Hire your kids, teach them a new skill, and save money. I’ve spend $1000’s in graphic design costs over the last year in starting my new company. Due to the nature of my business, these design costs will never go away. A year ago we purchased an iMac and the Adobe Suite and hooked my 12 year old son up with a designer friend who was willing to trade my son’s help in his yard for teaching on Photo Shop, Illustrator, etc. A year later and my son is now doing over 25% of our design work at a cheaper hourly rate and he’s saving for his own car and college in the process! Save on business expenses and save on college costs!

  59. A client developed the world’s first pet ID tag global recovery service system. There are so many pet tags out there, that we knew we had to get samples into the hands of some famous pet owners. Landing a tag into the right person’s hands can gain you more publicity than running ads or other expensive campaigns. We watched for events that were pet related, and heard of a black tie affair in California that needed items for their goodie bags. For 200 tags it cost $80 in product and $10 in postage. Not only did we get the tags into the hands of our target audience (pet owners/lovers) but we know that several people – including a few actors – registered their tag and even ordered more tags for their other pets. If you have a product you need to promote and can afford to donate 100 or more at a low cost, watch for events hosted by or attended by your target audience that need free items for their goodie bags.

  60. A technology client was launching a product that replaced an old paper ticket system. I had them send out a box stuffed with torn-up tickets. On the outside we put one line: “To get the message in this box, throw away the contents.” The product promo was printed inside the box, on the bottom. Huge success.

  61. This one thing kept me out of the red and steadily in the black last year: don’t spend money based on the balance in the checkbook.

  62. Seems mundane now, but in 2004 I replaced traditional advertising with blogging. We invested in our company, customers and employees, rather than Google and ad agencies. Cash-flow percentages tripled, conversion rates increased 10%, and revenues grew 5-6% during the time when retail prices in our industry dropped by over 30%.

  63. Leverage the power of teleseminars…we used a series of free teleseminars with notable people in our industry to attract new subscribers, then offered people who signed up a paid upgrade to a digital download of the teleseminar content. High conversion for very little upfront cost and we were able to generate cash flow immediately.

  64. The best thing I’ve done for business growth is to help others grow revenue. Specifically, we partnered with IT companies selling hardware and support and helped them capture additional revenue from their customer base by selling our services.

    It may sound cliche to find a win-win, but if you want to see your business grow… help your partners and customers make money.

    P.S. – I’ve created a company that focuses on lowering costs and another on driving revenue for its customers. I found revenue to be an easier selling point. Lowering costs can at times threaten the manager/owner for either waste or not being a good financial steward. Pitching how to help grow a business (for me) found greater success.

  65. I think building an online community is great, but do not forget to build your local community as well. I find it pays back in spades.

    Marcie @ BullsEye

  66. Consider what customers have requested that no one has delivered; look for ways other industries handle similar issues and adapt them.
    Our shipping customers had asked for pre-notification when shipments were experiencing problems; no competitor had addressed the need. And even though total satisfaction guarantees were common in other industries, guarantees were only available for on-time service in ours.
    We introduced a transportation service providing pre-notification and problem resolution in the less than 1% of instances where issues arose, added a total satisfaction guarantee for any reason a shipper wasn’t happy, and even let them choose the specific delivery time desired – another first!
    This premium-priced offering became our fastest growing service upon introduction, generating great margins and growing to account for a truly meaningful share of revenue.

  67. Wanting to help a local Staples store during a period of a lost anchor tenant next door, I noticed the CEO of Staples would offer a town meeting in Cleveland. I attended and approached him about a series of small business seminars to build traffic. Soon the regional manager called to confirm the 13 week series I suggested; one hour each Tuesday evening covering a different small business topic. He approved my flyer and the use of the Staples logo. I took the original flyer to the store for the free copies offered – and they decided to pass out the flyer in every purchase bag for the entire 13 weeks. The flyer was labeled Norma Rist & Staples Offer Small Business Workshops. This opportunity led to press releases posted free on line for each of 13 weeks – some of which still show up in the Google search today. It definitly took my on-line PR to the next level.

  68. Wanting to help a local Staples store during a period of a lost anchor tenant next door, I noticed the CEO of Staples would offer a town meeting in Cleveland. I attended and approached him about a series of small business seminars to build traffic. Soon the regional manager called to confirm the 13 week series I suggested; one hour each Tuesday evening covering a different small business topic. He approved my flyer and the use of the Staples logo. I took the original flyer to the store for the free copies offered – and they decided to pass out the flyer in every purchase bag for the entire 13 weeks. The flyer was labeled Norma Rist & Staples Offer Small Business Workshops. This opportunity led to press releases posted free on line for each of 13 weeks – some of which still show up in the Google search today. It definitely took my on-line PR to the next level.

  69. If you are an online business: seriously consider outsourcing all of your online marketing (paid search, blogging, coupon distribution, social media marketing, etc) to affiliates. Start an affiliate program in 2009! Affiliate programs are by definition performance-based marketing campaigns, where you pay your partners (affiliates) only when a sale or any other desired action (such as subscription, for example) occurs.

    You will acquire thousands of loyal partners, reach more prominent online presence, and save your marketing dollars.

  70. To take my business to a new level I knew I had to do something creative to show marketers that my business was different from existing ones. Even though we are an online gallery that sells prints from our own artists and photographers, I went to other people’s flickr accounts and found outstanding photos of theirs and used our equipment to make them prints. I asked people for their favorite quotes and created posters out of them, printed them and sent them out or brought the prints to them at a recent conference. People need to see and feel art and photography prints to see the quality and then be able to recommend them to their friends and site visitors and to market them properly.

    Whatever your product, take it to your consumer and like Jim Kukral said, give it away so people can see that you want them to judge your product on it’s own merits. If you have an outstanding product, people will then hop on board.

  71. I vote for Paul Singh’s comment and advice. Great approach.

  72. We decided to stop spending money on airfare and hotels. We now have the option of holding meetings and even seminars through web conferencing. This works out great for not only our employees but also our clients. Our clients no longer have to leave their office in order to meet with us. There is one site that I found that offers a similar service: http://www.24conference.com

  73. A furniture store owner sold $18,758 worth of furniture by offering their clients gas certificates through http://upyourprofits.net/.

  74. Give up a tiny amount of equity in exchange for services like advertising, lawyers, etc. I used a marketplace (in my case http://services4stock.com) to get what I needed and gave up a tiny bit of equity. Totally worth it instead of giving up cash which I need as a cushion!

  75. Hey my fellow Entrepreneurs!

    My name is Matthew George and I’m one of the few that has been given a great opportunity that’s literally recession proof and in todays world theres no such thing as job security, so I want to share this with you before it hits critical mass.

    Im 19 making the kind of money in month that most people make in a year.

    As I am a business man, I own my own business and the company is endorced my Mr. Donald J. Trump himself, and will be airing my company on the next celebrity apprentice March 22nd 2009. And anyone that is involved in my company will make 100,000’s a month (no this is not a get rich scheme, you have to do work to see results this is a legitimate business or else Donald trump wouldn’t be airing in for 2 hour special, where 20.7 million people watch the apprentice a week.

    Only 3% of the world to-date know about this company. If you’re interested in Network marketing I assure you this is THEE greatest one that will ever hit mainstream. We are in the largest industry in the world. and now exceeds 1.3 trillion dollars. They estimate will hit 5 trillion by 2011. So think about that one.

    If this sparks interest please feel free to email me @ Matthew.J.George@hotmail.com and I will personally go over everything in full detail and show you how you can work from home a learn be financially free within 6 months!

  76. i think that now,more than ever before, it is ALL about followup.
    i have always tried to go above and beyond, but now is a matter of financial survival.
    i ask my customers” what can i do for you”? “what can i help you locate”?, through my webportal,etc. a little kindnesss, thoughtfulness may bring in that one extra sale…
    my customers also get paid to shop, when going through my webportal and following links to all my affiliate partner stores

  77. Save your company 10-20% off electric and gas and save thousands of dollars by becoming informed about energy de-regulation. Do the research yourself or have an Energy Savings Agent give you a free quote to find out how much you can save your business.

  78. Just give them special offers so they just came catch by you
    one may come tells some other saying that “one fish can pollute the whole lake”

  79. For the past few years, I’ve committed at least 4-5 hours a week to building passive income streams outside my core business such as: royalties on books and other info-products, affiliate sales, and so on. So many entrepreneurs have to shut down their business and go back to a j-o-b because of cash flow issues, and very often they’re temporary – just a month or two. With a baseline of passive income, I’m much more confident about the survival of my business, regardless of circumstances, and am able to make better financial and strategic decisions because I’m not constantly in a cash flow bind.

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