First things first, what is your marketing budget? You’d be surprised at how many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t know the answer! The standard recommendation is typically anywhere from 7%-15% of annual revenue. I’m here to shed light on a few key factors to consider when setting a budget and how to make the most of your money.
Knowing exactly how much you’re able to spend on marketing expenses will allow you to make smarter and more strategic decisions. You should have a figure in mind when meeting with contractors so you’re both on the same page and not wasting each other's time. Take a look at your expenses and identify what would fall under marketing. Do you pay for client lunches? Drive to speaking engagements? Buy business cards? All of these would qualify as marketing expenses. Once you’ve identified your expenses, it’s time to make some cuts. Only keep what is currently increasing your revenue. If it doesn’t serve you, it’s time to let it go! PRO TIP: less is more when it comes to business cards. Doing so will free up funds for the services and initiatives that can grow your business.
When operating a small business, it’s important to see yourself as your own marketing department. Managing and organizing all of the chaos can be...chaotic. Find a tool that works for you and for how you think and work. If you’re always on the go and want 24/7 access wherever you are, maybe consider a tool that has mobile capabilities. My two favorites are Trello and Evernote (free and NOT sponsored!).
Your marketing needs may surpass your personal capabilities but your budget may not allow you to hire someone full-time or even part-time. This is when bartering comes into the picture! Bartering is a great way to extend your network and collaborate with a variety of professionals. Make sure you do your research and find someone who would benefit from what you’re able to offer. Once you’ve identified who you want to reach out to, be sure to send a sincere and personable message that shows you are knowledgeable about their services/brand. Put those new connections to good use and form a referral partnership. This will increase the odds of acquiring new business through your relationships.
When you’re first starting out, it’s hard to justify the costs of hiring outside professionals for their services. Luckily, there are a variety of free and user-friendly tools to help you thrive. A simple online search will point you in the right direction but I have a few recommendations. Graphic design needs? Check out PicMonkey and Canva. Editing a video? Try iMovie. How about accounting? Freshbooks is a great resource. Email marketing? My favorites are Convertkit and Flodesk.
We all know that time is money. Initially, you might feel like you’re saving money by doing all of your marketing services yourself but if it’s taking you a year and a day to get the job done, you might want to consider hiring a professional. Utilize the free online tools for projects you can confidently complete but leave the more difficult tasks to the pros. I do think it’s important for entrepreneurs to start out by doing everything themselves so they know exactly what takes the most time and they can better prioritize what needs to be outsourced. Stay tuned for more episodes where we dive deeper into building your brand!
Any questions? Follow me on Instagram: @jamardiggs
This episode is brought to you by The Annex- Collaborative Studio.
The Annex is a Virginia Beach meeting space for creatives looking for a collaborative approach to entrepreneurship. While The Annex can serve as your workspace home base, your website is another key way to collaborate and grow your ideas. And your About Page is the best way to connect with potential customers. Get a step-by-step formula to writing your about page by texting “ABOUTPAGE” to 44222 or visit TheAnnexVB.com/BrandNewb. If you draw a blank the minute it’s time to write your site, this is the guide for you. Learn more about The Annex by going to www.theannexvb.com.