The Marketing Basics On A Budget

By Zoë-Lynn Cohen

Have you ever been at a networking event and been embarrassed to hand out your business card or even worse had to say you didn’t have one? Have you ever given out your email but felt silly that it was through Yahoo? Ever had a prospective client want information to give to the powers that be, but didn’t have anything to show them? You tell yourself that as soon as the budget allows you will get all those marketing pieces but for now it will just have to wait. The cost for not having these items may be higher than you think and there is something you can do about it without investing a lot of money.

You are not alone; the biggest challenge that my clients are faced with is “what to create on a limited budget?” I believe that your efforts are best spent taking a close look at three marketing basics that every business can inexpensively implement - domain name, business card and brochure.

The first thing I always recommend is to invest in at least a domain name. You will want to have email that is associated with your company (yourname@yourcompany.com). It gives you credibility. You can still have the email forwarded to Verizon, Yahoo, AOL or to any email provider you choose and you can change it at your discretion. That way if you leave Yahoo or any service provider your email can follow you and the change will be invisible to your clients.

To add power to your domain name consider setting up a simple website. It can be as basic as a single page with some information about what you do and how you can be reached. If a one-page website is not feasible, consider Web Parking. It is often very inexpensive or even free depending on your registrar, the company from whom you purchased your domain name. The page will give you an opportunity to explain to the viewer you are under construction but can still be reached. This gives power to your domain name and gives you creditability as an established business.

The second and most obvious item is a business card. A good business card should include all contact information, your name, logo and yes - your domain name email. Resist the urge to set up and print your business cards from your office computer. It may seem like a good financial decision but it will not present well. Invest in a graphic designer or printing company that can set and print your business cards. To keep printing costs down consider printing 500 cards in just one color or even just getting 100 cards professionally color copied and cut down. This will save you money to begin with and by the time you run out of cards, business will be coming in. When the budget permits you can invest in letterhead, note cards and envelopes.

The third item is a brochure. The size will depend on how much you want to say. Consider including in your brochure an introduction to the company and why the buyer should choose you. What makes your company stand out above the rest? If you offer a guarantee or special pricing let people know. If you are an award winner it is okay to brag. Remember to stay away from jargon that only people in your industry can follow. To keep costs down you can limit color to one or two inks, print fewer copies on a commercial color copier, or make the actual size of your brochure smaller. While most companies go with a letter-sized piece of paper folded into thirds (6 panels) you can make it 8.5”x7” folded in half (4 panels). This will limit the depth of each topic but it is best to keep your brochure short and to the point. That way you don’t lose the reader’s attention and if the reader wants additional information you can schedule a meeting. The most important part of having a brochure is that the reader will have a clear understanding of what you do, why they should hire you instead of a competitor and how you can be reached.

A tight budget does not mean you need to deprive your business of important marketing materials. You can get started with just a domain name, business card and brochure. So get rid of that Yahoo or Comcast email and stand proud when you hand out your business card and distribute your brochure. Let prospective clients know you are a professional and remember that first impressions are lasting ones.

 

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