Will Your Marketing Budget Last the Year?

September always feels like a fresh start for me.

I suppose it’s related to memories of “Back to School,” with its pristine notebooks and newly sharpened pencils. It’s a “clean slate” sort of feeling, and it’s exciting to contemplate what can be written in the pages of that notebook in the upcoming months.

Speaking of sharpening our pencils, how’s your 2011 marketing budget holding up?

By this time in the year, it’s not unusual for businesses to be adjusting marketing budgets for the 4th quarter, in order to weed out what’s not working and make the most of what’s available to close out the year.

I know …. I used to find myself in the same position every year.

But since I’ve been utilizing social media, online, and email marketing to reach my past, present, and future clients, you know what I’ve found? (more…)

Creating Your Own Economy

Let’s hear it for those creating their own economy through online work!

Recent online articles from Inc Magazine, Kiplingers, and Entrepreneur validate what I’ve been saying for the last several years: location-independence is the way to go!

It’s not just the shape of things to come – it’s the shape of the way things ARE! I may have been the pioneer of this lifestyle among my own colleagues and peers, but this is clearly emerging as a worldwide trend and I believe it’s here to stay. Over the last couple of years, I consciously transformed my own business for location-independence, and now 90-95% of my business activities take place in the virtual world.

The intelligent use of available technology saves time, travel, and money – for both me and my clients. Here’s how:

TIME: No one needs to travel to a meeting. When a simple conversation will suffice, I utilize phone calls, email and conference calls. Does everyone at the meeting need to reference certain documents? In those instances, I prefer GoToMeeting, which lets us share documents on each participant’s computer screen. And I find Skype video calls to be a great way to conduct face-to-face (F2F) meetings.

Another benefit of the location-independent lifestyle is that, even with clients in different time zones, time itself becomes less of a factor. I can (and do) easily adjust my workday to accommodate my clients’ time zones and deadlines. My “office” is wherever my laptop and smart phone and I happen to be, and it doesn’t necessarily open at 9 AM and close at 5 PM Eastern. I can be on a conference call at 7 AM or working on a client project at 2 AM (typically not in the same day, of course!) – all the better to take advantage of a gloriously sunny afternoon by the sea, which I often do!

And working from home means never having to say you’re sorry you came to the meeting in your pajamas – although, if Skyping, I do recommend dressing at least the top half of your body 😉

TRAVEL: Like many service businesses, the services I offer cross geographical boundaries. I can as easily serve businesses and individuals here in the northeast as those in southern California; I can serve folks in the U.K. as easily as those in the States.

What does that mean to my clients? I no longer have to jump on a plane, train, or into an automobile to meet with them. No airfaire or train fare, no ground transportation, no hotels or meals. No gasoline, tolls or parking fees. And, of course, no time lost getting to the meeting (all of which is always figured into a professional’s fee, whether it’s itemized or not).

MONEY: In addition to the travel expenses mentioned above, let’s not forget the even bigger expense of hiring an in-house professional to do what I do. When you hire an employee, you take on the added expense of office space, furniture and supplies; office equipment such as a computer, printer, cell phone, etc – perhaps even a company car. And “salary” does not even come close to defining the true cost of hiring; there’s also the cost of health benefits, paid time off, payroll taxes, bonuses and a retirement plan to consider.

Am I a believer in the online economy? You bet I am!

So … what is your business doing to make it easier for prospects and customers to choose working with YOU?