So, you’ve got $5,000 to market your business, but how do you get the best ‘bang’ for your buck? Here are five marketing activities to help promote and grow your business.
1. BUILD YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS
Amazingly, around 60 percent of SMEs are yet to have a convincing presence online. With millions of consumers daily searching online for products or using the internet to research a business before making a buying decision, how can any business afford not to have an online shop front? $5,000 should get you a professional 10-page website with online business functions like e-news, e-commerce, blogs, forums and a back-end content management system (CMS) so you can administer and edit the site yourself.
An online business, rather than just a website, allows you to sell products online, communicate with your customers, promote what’s happening in your business and instantly view and measure all the results. Technology advances now allow you to build secure zones within your site that only staff or VIP customers can access, special pricing and discounts throughout your e-shop and even forums where your customers can comment and discuss your products.
Around $4,000 should cover you for the design and development of a start-up online business with $1,000 left over from your budget for some online promotion; after all, what good is an online business that nobody knows about? Google AdWords is a good start. Choose some common keywords that potential customers would use when searching for your products online, set your daily budget and sit back and watch your site visits increase, all measured ‘live’ through your CMS.
2. DIRECT MAIL CAMPAIGN
Most small-to-medium businesses find that the majority of their regular customers generally come from within a 5km radius of their front door. Direct mail promotion is an affordable and effective way to reach your local customers.
Through your local Australia Post distribution centre and their new MailPost you can send ‘unaddressed mail’ to businesses, post office boxes or street addresses in your local area from around 12 cents an item or complete print and distribution packages from 17 cents for 15,000 A4s.
The main objective here though is to make sure that your direct mail doesn’t look like junk mail. A creatively designed flyer in full colour will work well if printed on glossy, mid-weight stock. Allow $2,000 of your budget for design, copywriting, photography and final artwork from a graphic design house or agency.
Traditionally, direct mail campaigns produce low returns of less than one-to-two percent, however you can increase these results by:
- promoting a clear offer in your flyer
- adding a ‘close date’ to your offer
- including a large picture of someone ‘enjoying’ the product
- keeping the content simple and using bullet points
- selling the ‘benefits’ of your product or service, not just the ‘features’
- adding a coupon or a competition
3. REFRESH YOUR BRAND
If you have had your logo for more than five years your brand is probably looking a little tired. Let’s face it, how fashionable are your clothes from five years ago? A modern redesign or upgrade of your logo can virtually re-launch your business to the marketplace.
A new look gives you and your sales team a reason to revisit all customers, old and new, to re-introduce your business and its exciting new brand.
A $5,000 budget should buy you the services of a top rate designer to work with to recreate your brand and then carry the new design across all your stationery, signage and basic marketing materials.
Take time to review your business name; if it’s long then consider using the initials as the new brand (like QANTAS instead of Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services). Don’t forget to add a positioning statement; the one-liner that will set your business apart from its competitors, like FedEx’s ‘absolutely, positively overnight,’ or Saab’s ‘move your mind’. Your positioning statement should offer a benefit and give the customer a reason to buy from you and not your competitor.
4. TARGETED PRINT ADVERTISING
Most major media publications charge a premium for advertising because of their high circulation. That’s fine if you’re marketing a product to a broad audience and you have the budget to support it. Your primary target on the other hand probably accounts for only a small proportion of these readers so advertising in a large, mainstream publication would not be the best value and on a limited budget may only give you a small ad that’s easily lost.
Instead, find a trade magazine or publication that directly targets your industry or market, like Dynamic Business for example, and book a full page ad or a series of half pages.
For new advertisers, larger adverts deliver higher impact and may also give you some bargaining power to receive some complimentary editorial within the publication. A $5,000 budget is going to go a lot further in a publication with a smaller, more targeted readership. Ideally you will be able to afford more than one advert as repetition builds awareness. Just think of a For Sale sign on a busy road that’s there for just one day, would you really expect to sell the house from that?
5. HIGHER IMPACT SIGNAGE
So last, but really not least, is to take a look at your building, your shop or your van if that is your place of work. Your business signage is like free advertising, promoting your products and services to passing traffic and potential trade every day (and, if illuminated, at night as well). Like that house for sale again with no For Sale sign out the front, poor signage can cost your business severely.
Is your main logo displayed on your building professionally, preferably in 3D, full colour and illuminated at night? Consider window displays printed on banner mesh or one-way vinyl that allows you to see out but display full colour graphics from the outside. Are your company cars and vans sign written or at least display magnetic decals on them promoting your brand and website?
Then there’s informational signage; do customers know where to park, opening hours of your business, which products you sell or what services you offer? Signage plays a very important role in marketing; it gives the first impression of your business to potential customers, promotes and educates the consumer about what you have to offer and shows people exactly where you are and how to find you.
– Tony Eades is creative director of www.designshop.com.au