Top Marketing Dollar ROI For a Small Business: Best Bang for the Buck?

What does marketing ROI have to do with World Mental Health Day – October 10th?

Unlocked, Hand made jewelry, Nashville, Tennessee

Serving homeless women, sourcing ethically-made, handmade jewelry for women and men


I had a long chat yesterday with my friend Alexis Cook in Nashville, Tennessee who runs a small social enterprise called Unlocked.  We met at the SEA Summit 2019 in Chicago last month.

Unlocked is a hand-made jewelry business. They channel the vibrant creativity of homeless women in Nashville into the design and production of high-end, ethically-sourced jewelry. Proceeds from sales help fund the organization’s programs that work to get and keep women off Nashville’s streets.

Alexis and I spoke of many things, fools and kings (here’s their incredible Story); but we ended with her asking about the best use of her marketing dollars. What’s my best return on investment?, serving homeless women in Nashville, Tennessee

Social enterprise at work in Nashville, Tennessee

After thinking for all of five seconds, I said: No budget? Two things to focus on:

  • Social media
  • Media relations

I expanded on my first recommendation:

  • Social media, done well, maintains a conversation with the people who already know you and like you. Working from your base, throwing out great content that they love, and maybe even getting them involved in various ways with your brand, you get them to be ambassadors for the brand, and you slowly, slowly…build.
  • It’s not free, per se. You will have to task a member of the team with social media as an actual job function – OR you will have to outsource the function – hire an agency or freelancer. It does not cost a lot, relative to almost all other types of marketing! Done well, it could become your highest-value marketing dollar ROI.
  • It’s not immediate. Nothing is! It will take time. Done well, though, you will see steady, consistent growth.


Then, I rattled on a bit about how she could do some DIY media relations: build a content calendar around some of the national awareness days or months, and work with local media to put together stories that might shine a light on the work they do. I gave her some examples of how to use a “news hook” to get your organization some earned media. That’s the kind of media coverage you don’t pay for but which carries more credibility with the public than paid advertising – especially Millenials.

We hung up.

Today, I found a perfect example, and I just had to stop what I was doing and send it to her! I noticed I had put on my Google Calendar that TODAY is World Mental Health Day.

World Health Organization on Mental Health Day

WHO logo – National Mental Health Day

So I wrote a quick email to Alexis that said:

This is what I meant!!! Have a statement prepared to take advantage of all such opportunities – including all topics that may be adjacent to your work. (Mental health is a key issue for people like the women served by Unlocked.)

And then you get them in front of your local TV reporter friend a week or two in advance, giving them time to prepare a package if the topic is of interests. They may not have the upcoming news hook on their radar – so it’s providing a service as well, and this is the spirit in which you should regard it. Your organization may end up being only a tiny part of the story! Thank them anyway, and keep it moving. They will consider you a go-to friend, will know what you stand for, and will come to rely on you for good ideas that serve their audience.

Tell them – briefly and clearly:

        1. What it is
        2. When it is
        3. Why it matters (to their audience)
        4. How it relates to the work of your organization
        5. Where to get more information (your organization + a few others that could round out the story for them)


Now, this is not 100% free either. Time is money, right! Especially for a small business!

Get your voice heard!

Free ways to elevate your brand’s voice!

But in terms of marketing dollar ROI – it’s the best ticket in town! A fraction of the cost of advertising and, when done well, 10 times more effective!!!

Nobody makes the case better than Media Maven Christina Richardson. Check out her YouTube channel for loads of great (free!) media relations training and advice.

What’s my best potential return on my marketing dollars? It is the kind of question I get from clients and prospective clients all the time.

This answer is just my two cents!, and any other small business, nonprofit, or social enterprise can utilize these low- to no-cost marketing tactics





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