You Don’t Have to Spend Tens of Thousands of Dollars to Get Your Business Noticed
by Josh Field
Few activities of running your business actually affect sales yet most business owners put marketing investments at the bottom of their list behind paying for overhead, cost of goods and personnel. When times get lean, often the first expenses cut are on advertising and marketing, a strategy that often leads a business down the road to extinction.
Keeping your brand in front of your customers and new prospects is essential to growing and maintaining your business. As a general rule, you should reinvest a minimum of 2-3 percent of sales back into marketing-related activities to maintain market share and 5 percent or more when trying to grow. In more competitive industries, these percentages may be significantly higher.
Depending on the size of your business and marketing budget, it can be challenging to get your brand seen in a competitive and cluttered advertising environment. Look at the average daily newspaper or watch an hour of TV and count up the number of ads thrown at you. Even email and voicemail are filled with solicitations and offers. But there are some basic, low cost tactics that can get your brand noticed as you build your business.
We spend a lot of time in our cars – commuting to and from work, home, lunch, shopping, etc. Capturing eyeballs on the road is a great strategy because the audience is often captive to their surroundings. Billboards have been around since the 1800s but they’re usually pretty expensive. One billboard in a high traffic location can cost $1,500 or more per month and the average driver has less than 2 seconds to read its contents. On the other hand, a vehicle wrap costs about $3,000 and can last for years (that’s less than $100 per month over 3 years). Your delivery or sales vehicles are seen around your market area on the road and in parking lots where consumers have time to see, read and even write down (or take a picture) of your phone number or website.
Even if you’re out there screaming in the media or online (which most of us are not), your employees are your #1 brand ambassadors. Logoed merchandise like shirts and caps not only reinforce your brand but help associate your values and character when customers and prospects interact with the people on your team. Wear a logoed garment to a networking event and you’ll immediately see the difference in terms of the number of people who come up and talk to you about your business.
As previously mentioned, we’re a mobile society so ensuring people know what your business offers when they drive by it is key to attracting new and walk-in business. Permanent signage, window graphics, flags and banners draw attention and inform consumers what to expect when they call or enter your company. Don’t assume your business name tells the whole story.
It’s old school but people you meet still want your contact info and there’s no better way to ensure they remember your name and company than with an impressive business card. Walk through most businesses and you’ll see drawers filled or desks stacked with cards from vendors.
It’s easier and less expensive to keep and upsell existing customers than attract new ones, so utilize your invoices and statements to reinforce your brand and let customers know what else you can do for them. If you’re mailing out statements already, it costs literally pennies to insert a flyer or brochure letting your customers know about a new product or special sale.
Most media takes a shotgun approach to reaching an audience. TV, print and radio throw your message out to a large number of people but oftentimes a majority of those viewers, readers and listeners are not who you’re trying to reach. If you’re a small business with a defined geographic territory, direct mail is still a cost effective and efficient way to pinpoint your message to the audience most likely to need your products or services. Plus, with so many messages cluttering your TV, email, and social media feeds, receiving something via the good ole U.S. mail improves the likelihood your message will be seen, opened and acted upon.
Thoughts on Social Media
While establishing a page on Facebook or Instagram has no real out-of-pocket costs, maintaining an online presence requires a few hours a week of time preparing content and sharing it with your followers. If you value your time at, say $50 per hour, and find yourself spending 3 hours a week taking and posting pictures, articles and blogs, that equates to spending about $7,800 a year. Your time is valuable and social media requires time be done correctly.
Regardless of your marketing budget, prudent spending and getting the biggest bang for your buck requires testing and trying new things. But as seen above, there are a few fundamentals that ensure you have an ongoing brand presence. Start with a baseline consisting of signage, business collateral, a website, social media and logoed merchandise and then build from there.
Josh Field has been a corporate marketing executive and entrepreneur for over three decades. He currently owns and operates AlphaGraphics – a visual communications, branding and marketing services company – in Lake Mary, Florida.