3 keys to more traction on a startup budget
The smell of an oily rag is probably the most common scent around startup businesses. Because many of us begin with little or no funds for marketing, using ingenuity to get the best results from the money we do spend is vital. This applies whether you’re marketing online, in print, or at face to face events. It pays to plan.
1. Resources spent growing your business are an investment
Before you spend any money (or time) on print collateral, instead of viewing it as a cost, think of it as an investment. Every dollar you spend should be earning you either information (knowledge about what your ideal customers really want) or sales. Or both. Before you start creating any printed message, be clear on what you want the reader to do. Remember, people move through a process while they are deciding whether to buy from your business. If you think about the times they are likely to interact with you (or the opportunities you could create for this to happen) as steps in a pathway, one leading to the other, you’re less likely to spend on anything that isn’t leading towards the goal (they buy from you).
2. Versatility is your friend
Many of the promotional items businesses print can be used in different ways, depending on which stage the buyer is at. Ideally, when you have a limited budget, you should create collateral that can have multiple purposes. As a startup, you might want to begin with a limited number of print products, but be more ingenious in the way you use them. Versatility is the name of the game. In how many different ways can you use these products, to get a better and faster ROI? You might try these
- Your business card can double as a marketing card – promote a special offer or informational gift that will encourage the recipient to give you their details.
- Your first sales brochure could be a postcard. Make sure you have an eye catching headline, highlight the problems your audience faces and how your product can solve them, and give them a really good reason to take the next step with your business. As funds allow, you could create a series of postcards for different target audiences, or products.
- Lumps get noticed. A simple, effective way to start mail marketing is lumpy mail. This is direct mail with a difference – using an envelope containing an object which makes it bulky and intriguing. Most people are curious and can’t resist. It’s great at any stage of the pathway to creating trust and confidence in you and your business. Find out more about this low cost tactic here.
- Checklists are great for supplying useful information about customer problems, and proving your expertise in an easy to implement form
3. Test and measure before you dive into a big spend
Whatever you choose to print, it’s far better to trial small. See what works, learn more about what people respond to, and then gradually expand your repertoire. Yes, you may pay a bit more per item, but in the long run, you’ll waste a lot less. If you have a number of different target audiences, or products, pick the one you think has the most chance of success first. Then apply what you learn to the apples higher up on the tree. A word of warning on false economy. Don’t be seduced into thinking a large print run is saving you money (because the cost per item is less). Bottom line is, 30% of all print collateral ends up being thrown out before it ever gets to the consumer, because it’s out of date or redundant, or it just isn’t getting the outcome that’s needed. You don’t want to join that club. Larger print runs only make sense when you’ve proved something is successful.
What about those really cheap print options? In business, first impressions count for an awful lot, particularly when you’re starting out. As a brand, you don’t have an established profile or credibility. Be clear about how you want to be seen. It’s possible to cut corners here with free or cheap product. Take care if you choose this path. What you give or send is creating an ongoing perception. Is it making you look professional and credible, or like someone who’s barely in business? In a nutshell, plan before you print, keep your eyes on the prize, start small and test every step.