“As a small business owner, I know the disappointment when the results from a promotion come back and are not what you expected. You did what others had done, you honed your marketing techniques, spent lots of money, put in a vast amount of effort and still ended up with a promotion that lacked great results.”
Here Is What Happens
If every fan is worth $2 to you (as an example), then the marketing agency created $20,000 of value and the small business made $40 of value. Yes, I realize the small business got 20%, I feel sympathetic toward the small business, but in the end the small business still lost and the marketing agency won.
The Obvious But Wrong Conclusion
I imagine you are thinking, well hey, they had 10,000 fans and a $10,000 prize of course they were going to do well. There is some truth to that but it’s not what you think.
The marketing agency beat you on knowledge, prize selection and economies of scale. They know what their fans want, they had more options to pick a better prize and 10% of a bigger number gives them more room to run lower performing strategies and still come out ahead.
If you don’t have a $10,000 and 10,000 fans how do you get to profit from a promotion?
1. Compete On Non-Scalable Actions
Large audiences cause a large stir online, make things go viral and boost your marketing efforts without you being involved. But you don’t have that scale yet and as such you should stop following what the big brands are doing. You can compete on non-scalable actions that they can’t do, but are so much more valuable to your audience than what the big brands can deliver.
Let’s examine that. One simple example that I used to do in the early days of Binkd is say, “everyone post your website address and I will review it for SEO or Conversion Rate Optimization”, as this is an area I have had much success in, currently and in the past. As such I managed to boost my page from 100 fans to over 500 within a few days. It took me almost 12 hours to get through everyone’s site. It was hard work but didn’t cost me a dime.
As a positive side effect I also got to know my fans, started the relationship building and invested my time into helping others succeed. A win all around and something a fan page with 1 million fans could not hope to accomplish without significant cost.
2. Prize With An Emotional Response
Contests are fun! How about an iPad! That sounds great, I can imagine sitting on my couch browsing the web, chatting on Facebook.  How about a mini cooper? How awesome would that be driving around town in a fun sporty little car. How about some SEO services from a company you don’t know… How exciting would that be? Yeh, not much.
Sometimes your products aren’t too exciting. Large companies spend millions on making their products exciting. Use their brand recognition and trust to get people over the line in entering your contest by using their products. If your contest prize isn’t exciting, your response rate won’t be either. If your product isn’t exciting, choose something that is.
3. Build Your Fan Base First, In Other Ways
Now this seems strange. Don’t you run promotions to get fans? Yes you do but sometimes certain types of promotions are just not meant for you.
On smaller fan bases, the first thing I recommend is the non-scalable actions I mentioned. Purely the best way to go to start out.
Next, joint ventures and cross promotion is an absolute must. I have been browsing YouTube recently, finding some amazing talent such as Lindsey Stirling. Lindsey then collaborates on songs with others. From a collaboration I then found Megan Nicole, then Salt Lake Productions and so on. Collaboration on content, e.g. setting up a weekly post arrangement with another blog. You will drastically build both of your fan bases. Then start spreading out to other blogs. Work together, no one ever gets successful working alone.
Communicate in LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups or industry forums. Where does your target market hang out? If you aren’t there, why not? Be open and learn as much from them as you will share in knowledge with them.
Now go out and build your fan base and good luck! Feel free to ask me any questions below.
 For anyone who actually knows me, they will know that Apple is not welcome in my home. My wife want’s an iPad and I said if one ever came into our house the first thing it would do is print divorce papers. (this is all said jokingly of course)