Marketing and Promoting Your Company On a Small Budget

This was the topic at the most recent Tech Biz Connection event in Aliso Viejo, CA. Here are the notes I took from listening to the panelists and their interactions with the audience.

Event Summary

The following summary is taken from the promotional copy for the event:

The holy grail of success for the small business. Learn from a panel of experts how to efficiently and effectively reach your target market. Learn about a wide range of the tools and methods available to you, from PR to search engine optimization and the wide range of advertising and promotional options.

Panel Q & A

What advice to you have for a small business with a limited budget?

  • Know your customer.
  • Spend time with your customers.
  • Have an outstanding product.
  • Use free services like Wikipedia and Craigslist.
  • There is no one formula for all businesses, you must take a tailored approach.
  • Know how your market looks for your product.
  • Know your identity and who is the identity of your market. Don’t skimp on this phase of research.
  • Utilize your existing networks first.
  • Examine your existing “good” customers and find other that fit their profile.
  • Utilize search tools to analyze popular keywords in your industry and incorporate into your elevator pitch.

How would a startup marketing plan differ for a business with no clients vs. some clients?

  • For those with no clients, give away your product and learn from the research and use this core group for referrals. Learn your business metrics from this phase.
  • Understand the long term value for each client. Use this to determine your cost per lead budget.
  • Keep track of your metrics and take the time to analyze and adjust regularly.
  • Use your statistics to help tell your PR story.
  • Look in terms of 90 days.
  • Focus on why your product is better than your competitor. Focus on the value proposition.
  • Be careful about giving product away, because the customer may not value it and not use it.
  • Examine the end user and their use of your product.
  • Focus on making client success stories.
  • Make sure you have your 30 second elevator pitch.
  • Execute your PR strategically. Don’t let your ego get in the way.
  • Discover the influencers in your industry and court them.

How do you stay in touch with changing customer needs?

  • As the CEO, spend 50% of your time with your customers (the end user and your immediate client).
  • Use technology to monitor blogs and other sources that talk about your clients needs.
  • When customers leave you, find out why.
  • Mine and monitor data from your touch points, like your customer service, sales, tech support, etc…
  • Make sure you track how your leads are converting and study why those conversions happen.

How to keep in contact with your customers?

  • Use a CRM system such as
  • Use ConstantContact or similar services for email follow up.
  • Make sure you are easily contactable.
  • Use to analyze how your competitors are marketing on the Internet.
  • Use keyword discovery tools to expand your keywords.

Do you put more emphasis on offline or online strategies?

  • If you are going to do offline marketing, personalize. For example, instead of a trade show booth, create a special event for prospects.
  • Don’t invest money into trade show booths, use that money to do more targeted marketing initiatives instead.

What are the typical problems small businesses face when marketing?

  • Not willing to outsource. Recognize your core competency and outsource the rest.
  • The founders need to be passionate about their business and be willing to invest their time in the marketing functions.
  • Entrepreneurs struggle with prioritizing and focus. Find something to focus on and do it better than anyone else.
  • Lack of budget, in many cases its zero.

How do you qualify a good marketer?

  • How many customers do they have?
  • Do they focus on ROI?
  • Ask for recommendations.

How do you balance between traditional marketing and PR?

  • PR is useless (in terms of budget to spend on it) until you have a story to tell. Use your leads and sales to create stories.
  • Create an informative website and then ad on advertising on top of that. Realize that a web site is must have, but understand that you must have a SEO program that is constantly reviewed. Make sure you budget for development of content to help bring people come back.

What is the minimum budget needed for your first year?

  • This is highly specific to your industry, based on your target market and your product.
  • Typically the range starts at $5,000; however, there are creative methods to do initial marketing for the cost of your time.

What is the panels opinion on webinars as a marketing tool?

  • Can be used in some cases to generate PR.
  • Can also be used for SEO optimization.
  • Changes the cold call to a warm call. Works well in service industries, especially if the service and/or product is complicated.


Brent Collins| CEO |
Brent is CEO at, a web based subscription service making it easy for stock investors to maintain advanced, automated sell-protection against volatility and downtrends. His familiarity with getting the most from limited marketing budgets spans experience at startups companies and Fortune 500 enterprises, in local to international markets, and in direct to indirect channels. He has led global marketing for Hewlett-Packard’s PC division, and worked with senior executives from companies like Barclays Bank, Standard & Poor’s, UBS, Thomson-Thomson, and McGraw-Hill to architect strategic business growth initiatives.


Kevin Reid | Director of Direct Marketing | WebVisible
Kevin is a business growth expert with over 15 years of experience. Prior to joining WebVisible he was a senior executive with Secured Funding Corporation where he helped the company jump 40 places in market share in just three years through effective cross-media direct marketing programs. Prior to that, he held a variety of marketing and advertising roles, working with leading companies like Experian, Suzuki, and Verizon. Kevin has a MBA degree from Cal State Long Beach and a Bachelor’s degree from USC.

David J. Rodecker | Founder & CTO | RelevantAds
David has lead internet application and marketing technology companies for over a decade. At RelevantAds, he formed a local-advertising product that highlights companies online, David led the development of a local search destination with over 4.4MM unique monthly visitors. As a founding partner at Mail2World he created an internet email service, growing it to 6.5MM hosted mailboxes with clients AOL/ICQ, EsMas, iVillage and NetIdentity. David has appeared on CNBC and TechTV evangelizing internet application services; he’s taught business marketing and science at USC, UCLA and Cal State Long Beach.

Kim Long | Founder and President | Echo Media Group
A 15-year public relations veteran and seasoned strategist, Kim Long, founder and president of Echo Media Group, is internationally-renowned for her ability to create news, and position her clients in the media spotlight. Long is the co-founder of the Professional Communication’s Exchange (PCE), a thriving Southern California-based networking forum for public relations, marketing and communication’s professionals. She is also a noted speaker, an avid supporter of nonprofit organizations, and the recipient of multiple industry accolades, including numerous PROTOS awards from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), as well as the PRSA Pinnacle Award for the “Best Overall Public Relations Campaign.”

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