I work in very budget constrained times. I am constantly looking for new ways to get the word out that are low cost, but remain effective. But sometimes the easy, cheap methods of getting the word out are really hard to measure. And the ones that cost money are measurable. Tricky situation. But just because something is hard to measure, it should not be a reason to devalue its effectiveness and thus ignore it. Sometimes you just have to do it.

In the ‘old days’ marketing was much more ‘top down.’ You used direct mail, paid advertising, email marketing and later paid search to get the word out. But life isn’t top down any more. Thankfully. It’s much more fun being a marketer now! Everyone is an influencer. You need to give them the tools to get your message out there.

But before you embark on any of these tactics, ensure that your strategy is totally solid. Now is not the time to experiment in the dark. Segment your audience so you understand the most valuable and profitable targets. Use the data you have available to understand what’s worked in the past, and what hasn’t. Study your competition and learn from their weaknesses and mistakes. In all your tactics, be completely clear of your goal, your audience, your message. Be consistent and stick with it until you can clearly measure results. Then, tweak and adjust to fine-tune.

1. Advertising
Clearly this is highly measurable and target-able. But network advertising doesn’t offer the creativity and effectiveness that we’re looking for. It’s not inviting your audience to be a part of your conversation. However, see another post here about ideas for using advertising not to build clicks, but to build brand recognition.

2. Press releases
These aren’t exactly cheap. Well, I guess that depends on your budget perspective. But you obviously have to pay an agency/writer, get the release on the wire, and target your follow up. It’s not easy to measure results, but you can certainly measure the hits you get on the various search engines, and thus calculate potential readers. Don’t, however, be lured into the ‘spray and pray’ method of press outreach. Target the writers who speak to the audience you are reaching. Use your press release merely as your news hook. The real value is in the conversation you’ll have with that writer one-on-one.

3. Social network profiles
You can measure your friends, the visits to your social network profiles, the numbers of discussions and comments. If you’re clever with your parameter tracking in something like Google Analytics you can measure clicks from specific posts or articles. But the real measurements are hard to quantify. Regardless, having a lively, personal, interesting and regularly updating social network profile on MySpace and Facebook is vitally important to ensuring your brand is effectively represented. Ensure that anyone who goes to your social network profile will learn something new about you and your brand. Something they’ll want to share.

4. SEO campaigns
Both measurable and effective. Measurable in the sense that you should clearly be able to see changes in your traffic to your site if you have decent tracking at your end of the clickstream. Effective because if you do a good job of ensuring your site content is well indexed and follows all the plethora of SEO rules, then someone looking for what you offer should be easily able to find you. During our recent campaign with the wondrous Lady GaGa, searching for “lady gaga photos” during the campaign resulted in Photobucket as the #2 result in Google, right after Google’s own image search (which was also full of Photobucket images). Great traffic spikes resulted.

5. Corporate blog
A well documented corporate blog is highly effective: the press find you, and read backgrounds on you and your stories. The terms in your blog should be well indexed through SEO. However, if it’s hard to measure effectiveness. Even if you only get a few thousand visitors to your corporate blog a day, those are still a few thousand people who are getting a back story, and who can potentially pass along what they have found.

6. Schmoozing the blogosphere and twitosphere
In an ideal world, you have a full time community manager whose job it is to continually engage bloggers and tweeters who may be interested in your proposition. Each tweeter or blogger who tells their audience about you and your product has a huge multiple effect. Even if it’s hard to measure it is a highly effective way to get the word out at low cost.