So you decided to start your own small business. Probably have yourself a great idea that you are highly confident will be a big time money maker. Well let us hope you are not so overconfident in your product or service idea that you think it will attract customers magically, because this isn’t a business twist reimagining of Field of Dreams. Just because you build a company does not mean “they will come” automatically.
In order to get the word out about your new company you are going to have to develop a marketing plan (assuming you already have the nuts and bolts of your company put together). Within your marketing plan you will determine and evaluate what you will be selling, how much you will be selling it for, where you will be selling it and of course… HOW TO PROMOTE IT!
So many options to choose how to promote but where to begin? First let us dismiss the idea of trying to copy the techniques of a Fortune 500 company, that is unless you happen to have the same capital as they do, allowing for a high budget to advertise. According to Melissa Allison of The Seattle Times, Starbucks spend just over 87 million dollars on their advertising in 2005 with the even bigger heavyweight of Coca-Cola spending upwards of $2.5 billion dollars (which amounts to approximately 11 % of their budget) I’m going to go ahead and guess you don’t have that kind of cash to put into your budget so I would think it’d be in one’s best interest not to try to use the same model. If you do try, you’ll blow all your money before you even get started and not even scratch the surface of the depth of their approach, or you will end up with a half assed doppelganger that doesn’t quite work right (so basically you’d be the Bizarro Superman of comic books). Many startup companies are rightfully trying to squeeze every penny and trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents, so let us discuss a few simple ideas to keep in mind for advertising as a
money conscious entrepreneur.
Let us keep 3 things in mind when planning to promote your new business:
- Be realistic
- Look for opportunities
- Keep a focused target
1. First, be realistic in your approach in order to keep you grounded and not having delusions of grandeur of your initial capabilities. Sure we all would like to think we are the next Donald Trump, Jeff Bezos, or Steve Jobs but let us not forget some of the more humble beginnings of many millionaires (which you possibly are trying to be on the same entrepreneurial level) that were not born with a silver spoon in their mouth. If one were to look back they would find more than a few starting off in their garage or a small office the size of a bathroom working their way up with only a fraction of the resources which they have now. It would be a terrible thing for a small business entrepreneur to get jaded about the initial struggles of building a company by comparing it to a large company that has been established for years and has already been through their growing pains. My point is don’t expect to have 3 executive assistants and a whole marketing team working slow 40 hour weeks to advertise your business. In the beginning the main person you should expect to be pushing your company to new heights is the one you see in the mirror every morning, and you should expect him/her to be putting in a lot of dedicated hours to get things going.
2. Secondly, you must look for all opportunities that will best fit your marketing in the most cost effective way. Start with the obvious by setting up Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts of course. It may sound cliché but these social networking sites are free outlets for you to reach out to your potential and soon to be loyal customers to get the word out. But don’t stop there, take it up a notch. Add short promotional videos to your Facebook by uploading directly or with a YouTube channel. These videos do not have to be elaborate Hollywood produced blockbusters, but rather short informative videos to help visualize the benefits of your product and/or service while showcasing your expertise on the matter.
Another marketing medium to utilize is direct mail. Some people may tell you advertising in prints such as brochures, flyers, and sales letters are difficult to measure and dated. I on the other hand disagree with this point of view and think that those having troubles tracking through direct mail are not implementing them correctly. Applying specific promotional coding and questionnaire quantitative system for each medium (and subsets of different variations of each) will help you keep track of which techniques are creating the most business for you and what your Return On Investment (ROI) is for each campaign.
An email campaign is another resource to utilize for the money conscious entrepreneur. If you do not have an email list be very selective on where you purchase a list as some companies may provide you with a less than stellar selection. If you have time on your hands but not money in your pockets, than get those lazy fingers typing and create your own proprietary list. Look up business directories of your local chamber of commerce as well as any other markets that will be fruitful and create a spreadsheet of your own.
3. Last but not least is keeping a focused target market. This is a very valuable concept to keep in mind when starting out. A business owner must pinpoint who, where, and when to display their message to in order to optimize the advertising. For example If your demographic is primary males in their 20’s who skateboard in the Tampa Bay area than you’re probably not going to want to advertise where elderly women in their 40’s shop now are you? You don’t need to be a celebrity to everyone, just be a star to the ones who will most likely buy your product/service. Don’t go off pandering to people outside of your target market in an attempt to appease everyone because it is a waste of time and money. Find your target market and stick with it.
Allison, Melissa (2005, Oct 12th) “Starbucks takes unique approach to marketing” The Seattle Times Retrieved From: