We've always been pretty open here at Search Engine Guide about how we do things. Partly because that's just who we are, but mostly because we like the challenge of doing things on a budget (like our readers) and ending up with examples that can help inspire them in their own marketing goals.

So, I wanted to share the thinking and planning process behind the promo videos we've put together for our upcoming Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference.

It's a short video, just a minute and a half, but it sums up the point of our show far more interestingly than a regular blog post or press release would have. With so many shows out there to choose from these days, we knew we had to get across what made us different quickly and compellingly. Of course, that's the problem being faced by nearly every company online these days. How do you capture someone's attention online, where information overload has left most Internet users blind to anything resembling a sales pitch?

Social Media Marketing was a No Brainer

As fans of social media marketing and getting creative on a budget, there was no question we'd have to come up with a social media campaign. The only question was what. We kicked around some ideas that would utilize Flickr and Facebook. We came up with one or two really fun (but expensive) offline pitches to bloggers. Ultimately, we remembered that social media isn't about pushing advertising, it's about utilizing new tools to spread a personal message.

Our personal style has always been "simple, affordable and a little bit whacky." (After all, we are the site that put our feed reader icon in a dog bowl to match our beloved puppy logo...) Video seemed to be the best way to get that across and YouTube is obviously where it's at when it comes to video and social media. Once we'd decided on our venue, we had to decide on our message and our budget.

The Requirements

The budget part was easy. I'm cheap and Robert is cheaper. While we had set aside a nice marketing budget for the show, I absolutely live for the chance to challenge myself with razor thin budgets. Thus, I wanted to keep the total cost of our blog coverage campaign to less than $200. After all, nearly any business can come up with $200 to promote an event. With a budget that tight, I knew heavy duty video editing would be out of the question. That meant we had to come up with videos that could be shot in a single take with no editing required.

The first thought to pop into my brain was to video me standing in front of the Alamo building at Northwest Forest Conference Center talking about the show. It took about two seconds to dismiss that idea as boring. My second thought was "we need something visual." That's when I started to kick around the idea of filming someone with a stack of cue cards. I'm a huge fan of the opening credits of Napoleon Dynamite and as soon as I thought of cue cards, I could hear that quirky, fun style of music playing in my ears.

Things instantly fell into place. Rachel (Search Engine Guide's Business Development Manager) and I sat down and made a list of the five target audiences for the show.

We spent about a day scripting out the selling points and messages for each audience. It took me a few hours that night to turn those scripts into the Power Point slides you see in the video. The next day, Rachel took the slides to FedexKinkos and had them printed on large size paper. On her way home, she swung by a craft store and picked up some maroon foam board. We spent that evening taping the slides to the foam board. We spent the next day filming while Robert hunted through music archives for a song to buy.

By the next night, all five videos were live on YouTube.

Total Investment
Slides: $110
Fun and Quirky Music: $38
Total cost: $148
Total time: 18 hours

(I suppose you could technically add the cost of the digital video camera ($175) and I'd go over budget, but since I already owned the camera, it doesn't really seem fair to include that in the price.)

Sending the Pitches

Once we had the videos created and online, we had to send our pitches to try and get coverage.

Our $150 video has snagged us coverage on Duct Tape Marketing, Small Business Trends, Chris Brogan's Blog, John Chow, DoshDosh and quite a few others.

In fact, so far, pretty much every person we've pitched the video to has blogged about it. That said, we only pitched the sites we knew and read, making our pitches more personal and more likely to be accepted. Another reason why it's so essential to spend time building relationships with the people in your niche.

How did the video perform in terms of conversion and sign-up rates? Well, the show isn't for another six weeks, so it's too early for me to tell you. That said, I'll spill the beans in my Social Media and Viral Marketing workshops, so if you're super curious, why not join us?

March 5, 2008

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.


Great article we work with alot of small businesses who don't have huge budgets. I am been trying to tell them how great and inexpensive video can really be. Thanks for showing a practical example of how this can be done.

Hey, thanks for mentioning me! And great job on the article too. Minus some minor headaches, the whole project was even fun to do. Fun on a budget with an impact! Can't beat it. :)

Rachel, I have been into social media and internet marketing since a long time. I have always worked on big budget projects. Looking into your strategy I guess that marketing is not always about big bucks, a lot can be achieved in a small amount. Thanks for sharing this with us!!

Very, very clever! The company I am working with is in full swing with their own video production and this type of simple, to the point video sparks several ideas for me. Thanks!

This is a great post! People are seeing the value in inexpensive videos and that you don't need to spend thousands to get something that is worth watching. Providing your content is valuable and it is presented in a decent manner, it can be viral. This is proof!

It seems ironic to me that in an age of technology, there's still room for arts and crafts in mainstream marketing.

Way to go, guys!

LOL, an excellent point Rob!

You guys and gals rock. Makes me really consider attending. Thanks

Hi, great post and a great video. Many of my readers are like your target audience and think social media .. well, anything a bit fun .. is for big consumer companies. We are posting about your conference and I'll include a mention in our print pub. Please let me know when you can provide an ROI on the video ..ie, effects on registration ..
Conference looks great too. Am wondering if I can make it.

Brilliant Jennifer. You did what most have trouble doing... making a video that is simple, yet fun and informative to watch. Great work.

That rocks, Jennifer. More than even the video, I love how you described the process. Good on ya!

Jennifer, thanks for this encouraging description! Please share with us how you snagged the "fun and quirky music" for just $38 - what source did you use?


Don, we purchased the music here: AudioSparx

Comments closed after 30 days to combat spam.

Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Practicing What We Preach: A Social Media Marketing Lesson