Please note that every business has its own needs and specialties that might benefit from some customization. One size might not fit all, but as you embark on this journey, you can use this plan as a template to start your market growth.
This plan will effectively get you off the ground and moving toward more market shares within one year, but budgetary means for the next year should be under consideration in the third quarter of this plan using a percentage of sales, or other means of budget determination. You will need to think of marketing as a necessary expenditure from this point forward.
You should develop a basic message you can use to start advertising your business. Hopefully, your business plan has illuminated your unique selling proposition (USP). With this information you can put together a series of messages to sell your product. These messages might be related to your product’s unique value, or the location of your company’s new physical store front. These key messages will encourage customers to go to your store or inquire about your product. Developing these messages is exactly what a great advertising firm can do for you. But if you don’t have the budget for a campaign development with a firm, you’ll have to rely on your own knowledge of your product and sell your product yourself. Do not underestimate this fundamental task! Buying a single impression of media without defining your message will be like flushing money down the toilet.
Choosing media wisely will have the greatest effect on your immediate success. To do this, you must have a pretty good understanding of what your goals are in this limited budget phase. You should assume two simple goals for your advertising campaign: to spread awareness, or presence of your brand to your local market, and to promote a new product or service.
So let’s look at all the available media, and weigh the options…
Your key objective for any newspaper should be purely public relations. Instead of paying for ad space, try to have the paper run a story about your store opening or promotion to bring some positive PR to your company. Down the road you could consider ad space as a budget item, but for now your objective is to get publicity. There are many free press release templates and how-to’s on the web. You don’t need something perfect, just be professional and persistent in trying to get this into the right hands at the newspapers. You can try a few free press release submission sites, such as prlog.com.
Local Magazines: Free
Same as above, it’s too pricey initially. Take the PR approach and send news to industry magazines and blogs to help with your online presence.
Radio: Not now…
Now, radio can do lots for your company in terms of building brand awareness. With the CPM being fairly competitive, you can reach thousands of your customers for a competitive price. But that price still may eat up a considerable amount of your current budget. Radio should be used when you have gotten some road behind you in a marketing sense, and really understand what to expect and have money to correctly budget. Starting out, radio is going to be too expensive to really net you the customers that you want, without zapping your budget dry. Keep radio on the list for Y3 or Y4.
Television: Not now…
The same basic reason to avoid radio right now applies to TV. It has fantastic reach, but comes with a premium. And with a two thousand dollar budget, it’s not the best use of your money. If you are interested in TV media, start studying the competition’s ads. See what they are doing and how to compete beyond their level. Don’t see your competition on TV? Then don’t rush to be the first one out of the gate. There might be a reason this media is left alone in your market.
We live in the digital age! This horizon of ever growing new media choices makes digital advertising an attainable, but confusing place to be. I’m breaking this category down into a few subsections to help you see through the clutter.
Web site: $600.00
This is an absolute must for any new business. Its the 21st century’s version of the phone number. You need to have a relevant and legible URL, which you can buy along with hosting from a service such as 1-and-1 internet services. Once you have your URL and hosting package you can set up your business email account and get a simple “splash” page up with your company logo, hours, contact information and brief company overview. After that, you will want to work with a professional web advertising team to have a professional website design created and developed. At the least, you want a two page site with information about your services and a contact form and to collect customer inquires online. A smaller agency could provide this for 500-600 dollars. Again, a good part of your budget, but worth every penny as your online store front.
Email Marketing: Monthly Fee / 30.00
Once you start collecting your customers’ information, you will want to start engaging them via email using email marketing. To do this professionally, you would want to sign up for a service like MyEmma, or Mail Chimp to find a plan that fits your budget. Once signed up, you can pick from template designs, or have your agency create a custom design for you. The key with this media is about relationships. You have established customers and prospective customers you need to continually reach out to and inform about your offerings. This media gives you that opportunity as well as exacting metrics to track your message and efforts. Brand awareness and product placements can both happen simultaneously, with the still most consistent ROI method available.
Social Media: Free
Entering social media can be a very powerful way to advertise your services and build some brand awareness. The rule of thumb I give to new businesses, is to monitor your involvement and pace yourself. All the tools in this toolbox, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc are all great to build brand awareness and to develop channels to communicate to your customers. But be sure to monitor your involvement, and properly invest yourself in the right channels and not over extend yourself. Overextending could be signing up for a Facebook account that you never use. This sends potentially negative signals to your friends and followers. Pick what you can successful manage and do it with an involvement that will garnish results. Each of these channels offer different types of communications and advantages. Do some research and find out which one would work best for your plans and start slow. You can always grow into it as more time becomes available.
Pay Per Click / Search Advertising: 50.00/Month.
Search advertising is probably one of the most accessible types of online advertising thanks to innovation from search giants like Google and Yahoo. The SEO, or search engine optimization surge of the past six years, carries a parallel storyline to pay-per-click advertising. While you may desire to be #1 on Google, there are more important things to focus on especially if you are not selling online. But, PPC can do some very helpful lead generation if planned accordingly. There are many tactics you could use for PPC advertising that would not break the bank. Start with a very small keyword list and do some iterative experimentation on your own with search. There are lots of articles on tactics for PPC advertising. I recommend that if you do this, you start very slowly and do it after you have all of your other media bases covered. Don’t forget to measure your success.
You are fortunate if your business has a storefront because that means you have some free space to promote your brand and start the conversation on your wares. If not, you can look into yard signs, door hangers, etc to spread the word about your business. There are some fantastic gorilla tactics like sidewalk chalk, projectors, etc. that could be a creative way to get in to the public space. This could include sponsorship for outdoor events. Just watch your local laws, and keep your perception in mind. What ever you do, be professional and consistent. No hand painted signs unless it works for your business. Remember, everything is an extension of your company.
Your Face: 250.00
Yes, your face. Another way to think about this is networking. I know not everyone likes to network, but as you grow your business you will need to be a part of your business image. People prefer buying from people more than just faceless companies. Spend the time looking for local organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce to invest some time in meeting people. If you go with the goal of meeting at least two new people, that is two more people that know you than had before.
With any budget the only limits are your initiative and imagination. This plan is only one path, but hopefully it gives you some idea of good place to start. You don’t need thousands to become a national sensation, you can do so much more with great ideas than great amounts to money. Good luck!