Oh, Monopoly and your Depression-Era real estate pricing. You make it look so easy and fun to spend money!
Ah. You know, ”budget” is like “dentist.” It is a word reminding us of something we wish we could avoid but we can’t, not really. For small start-up businesses, it’s a word that often triggers sighs and slumped shoulders. It also has a tendency to make “marketing” sound far scarier than it needs to be.
If you’re starting a new business, marketing is one of many considerations in those early months, starting with basics like a logo or business cards. If money isn’t an object, you’re golden (and often in the minority). For the rest, here are several ways to approach marketing materials for your start-up when you don’t have deep pockets:
Look for funding opportunities. Grants and subsidy programs may be available, even on a local level. We did the logo, business cards, website, brochure, address labels, and banner for one small company . . . and the owner only had to pay for half our services out of pocket (plus printing costs). She obtained a grant from a local agency for the rest.
Pace yourself. There are so many pieces of the marketing puzzle to put in place when starting a business that the temptation is to do them all at once. This is necessary to some extent, because you don’t want to hand out a brochure without a website listed or say “don’t have ’em yet” when someone asks for your business card.
Pacing yourself over a few months isn’t a bad thing, though. First, it’s cost effective. Second, your business will likely evolve over the first year in terms of offerings and identity. So what’s the answer? Well, anything online–social media, websites, blogs, etc.–can be easily and quickly modified. But you still need the printed stuff, right? Print in small runs. Hold off on the 1,000 business cards and 2500 brochures. Yes, the larger your quantity, the more you save. However, would you rather have a bunch of outdated brochures and a business cards, or would you rather pay a bit more and have small quantities of up-to-date marketing material? Once you’ve settled into your brand and your offerings, you can go back to saving a few extra dollars and print in larger quantities. See how it all works out?
Consider bundled services. This is something you see every time you walk into a grocery store. Buy Products X and Y together and get $1 off. Buy them separately, and there’s no deal. The same deals exist in the marketing world. We offer some Small Business Start-Up packages that bundle together the typical needs of a start-up, and I’m sure other agencies do the same. If they don’t . . . ask. You may be able to negotiate a discount.
Ask for a payment plan. Agencies vary in their payment terms and policies. If you’d like to stretch payments out over a longer period of time, ask the agency if they’ll work out an alternative payment structure for you.
Invest your time in word-of-mouth activities. Networking, developing strategic partnerships, and writing and pitching a press release or two are some other cost-effective ways to get the word out there about your new business. I focused on marketing materials today, so maayybeee that’s a topic for another post!
Takeaway: Having limited funds needn’t hamper your start-up marketing efforts. It just takes a bit of planning and creativity.
This is related to my last post . . . I got such a favorable response to the video I posted the other day that I wanted to say thank you to everyone who expressed kind words!