Harness the Power of the Pen

Many entrepreneurs and small business leaders I work with face the frustrating and bewildering ‘Marketing Paradox’ … they recognize the critical need to do more and better marketing of their products or services to survive and thrive. But, while few may have the knowledge and skills to effectively do it themselves, they hesitate to – or can’t – invest the money to have other people do it for them. The result is that they often do nothing. Bad idea.

If you have more money than time, find a pro – or several – who can help you figure out your plan and carry it out. Several of my colleagues, who are excellent marketing pros, are ready to help you – let me know if you want any referrals.

If you have more time than money, consider some ‘No-Budget Marketing’ strategies that need little if any financial investment. One that I have found very useful for sustaining my business over the last 22 years is harnessing the Power of the Pen … and getting free ink.

Why get free ink?

Writing articles in industry, association & business publications – both printed and electronic – can:

  • Create positive exposure and name recognition for you and your business.
  • Enhance your credibility and image. Readers generally assume people who write articles must be experts. Not necessarily true, but their perception is their reality.
  • Provide no-cost marketing support tools you can send to prospects and customers.

Where do you get the ink?

There are lots of publications to consider. Be creative and strategic:

  • Start with those from COSE, like MindSpring or your local Chamber of Commerce.
  • What other groups do you – or your key customers – belong to? Many of them have web sites and newsletters. They’re always desperate for worthy content and have no budget for freelancers.
  • Most industries you work in or serve have trade publications at the national and even local level. Many are willing to consider freebies that add value to their readers, since they have limited budgets for freelancer writers.
  • If you have a high level of expertise, writing skill or connections, consider pitching something to the ‘COSE Update’, ‘CBC Connections’, ‘Plain Dealer’ Business section, ‘Crain’s Cleveland Business’ or ‘Inside Cleveland Business’. The worst thing that can happen is you get a polite turn-down note.

How do you get it?

Write about what you know and know about what you write. Start small and simple. Do some articles on “speculation” so you have something to show the editors.

Call them to discuss their current editorial needs. Your message isn’t ‘I want some free ink in your newsletter’ but ‘I have expertise in a topic your readers would find useful and interesting. And I’m happy to share it with them.

Send them some clips or spec articles with your credential summary. Follow-up with a call or email. Be persistent but interact with uncommon courtesy.

Meet or beat their deadlines. Give them a better article than they expect. Make them look good.


So, harness the Power of the Pen by writing for industry, business or association publications. It’s a relatively easy and no-cost way to get free ink and support your ‘No-Budget Marketing’ plan.