Yesterday I shot and produced a short video on forecasting – pitching a booklet we’re in the process of assembling.

Aside from the pure entertainment value, this video is notable (I think) for two reasons:

  1. It’s an opportunity for me to share the results of some of our experiments with social media
  2. It’s an example of just what’s possible for lead generation on a very tight budget

[watch video]

What hasn’t worked

In Australia, we have a large database of executives and business owners – the result of 15 years of events, print advertising, business marketing and direct mail.

However, in the US, we’re starting at ground-zero.  So, our challenge has been to build a house list from scratch, in an environment that’s quite different from the one we launched the business in 15 years ago.

So, in the last two years, we’ve built a list of promotional activities that simply don’t work (they aren’t commercially viable). This list includes:

  1. PR (we spent a small fortune with a agency with nothing to show for it)
  2. Tradeshows (we exhibited at manufacturing shows across the length and breath of the continent – and trust me, it’s long and board!)
  3. Advertising in daily newspapers (this is surprising, because it’s been a staple of ours in Australia for years)
  4. Traditional direct mail campaigns – pre-approach pack with phone follow-up (again, this is surprising because many of our US clients have great success with this)

What is working

The good news is that there are two activities that work very well for us:

  1. Speaking at other people’s events (well, this is no surprise – this has always been huge for us, on both continents)
  2. Social media (I was a skeptic – but we’re kicking goals!)

We’re both surprised and excited by the results we’re getting with social media.  Specifically, we are generating all the sales opportunities we can process with relative ease (and at a surprisingly low cost).

It’s taken quite a bit of experimenting to get this far – and we’ve got a lot more experimenting to do – but here’s an overview of the formula that’s working best right now.

Our social media formula (v1.0)

Here’s what we’re doing right now:

  1. Run tiny pay-per-click (PPC) ads on LinkedIn and Facebook – see example below (LinkedIn is working much better for us – and it enables us to target individuals by title, industry type, age, education and much more)
  2. Direct respondents to a landing page, containing a more detailed pitch for the offer, and a form to complete and submit

New Picture

Our objective is to capture postal details and a telephone number.

We’ve discovered that this is only possible if we are sending respondents a physical package (via snail-mail). Accordingly, we have a standard SPE Starter Pack that consists of a copy of my first book, a DVD and some other goodies.

We either promote this package in the initial ad (see example above), or we promote a booklet that we fulfill by e-mail – and then offer the pack in a sequence of (auto-generated) emails. The video at the start of this post contains an example of one of those booklets.


I’m very bullish about video.

We’re using video extensively in our landing pages to convince respondents to take the next step and submit the form and we are keen to experiment with Google’s click-to-play advertising, in-video YouTube ads and more.

The nice thing about video – and about the whole social media formula I described above, in fact – is that you can do it all on a tight budget (and we always like to experiment on a tight budget!).

I built a mini-studio in my apartment here in LA for around $1,000 (including a 2nd-hand camera, lights, a green-screen, a wireless lapel mic and video-editing software). Sure, it’s not broadcast quality, but it’s certainly fine for Internet video.

Yesterday, it took me 30 minutes to write the script, 45 minutes to set up the lights and camera, 60 minutes to shoot the video and 2 hours to do post-production and upload it to YouTube.

Here’s an example of a landing page containing that video.


Social media: the big picture

So, obviously, I’ve only discussed one aspect of social media (PPC advertising). I haven’t discussed blogging, Twitter, Facebook and so on.

To my mind, our blog (this one) is the central plank in all of this. It generates the content for our booklets and broadcasts to our e-mail subscribers. Everything else (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) promotes the blog.

Now that we are gaining traction with social media we will start to replicate some of these steps with our clients (in fact we’re doing this already). Let one of us know if you’re interested in hearing more.

Oh, and if you find this subject of general interest, please post a comment.

(By the way, the forecasting booklet doesn’t exist yet, but you can read the content of the booklet here and here.)