Starting your business can be quite an exciting adventure. And you may not know where to start with your finances. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, most small businesses cost around $3,000 to start. And when it comes to home-based franchises, the costs range between $2,000 to $5,000.
Many startups and small firms invest more in developing their products to the fullest and less on marketing and advertising. But, in today’s tough business environment, you have to look professional to be taken into account. And how do you build your brand identity on a budget? Trust me, you don’t need killer Indesign or Photoshop skills to have professionally designed catalogs, brochures, flyers or stationery. You basically just need a good marketing kit to get started.
Here’s how you can create your marketing materials on a budget:
- Brand identity
Establishing a business as serious and professional as possible while doing your best to keep expenses at a minimum can be quite a challenge. And trust me, when it comes to branding, you don’t want to look cheap.
Let’s start with a solid logo. Getting yourself a fancy responsive logo will require hiring a good designer. I know what you are going to say now. There are a lot of free logo design platforms and other affordable professional logo design services such as Fiverr or 99designs. Sure, while you can just get one for free, there’s a high chance someone else is already using it for his business. And you don’t want that, do you? Because your business is unique.
What I’d suggest is that you hire a professional. An advertising agency or a freelance designer whose style you identify with. Investing in a good marketing kit will fully equip you for future marketing endeavors.
Your logo is the essence of your brand. It will portray what your business is about in just one simple visual. Also, you need to make sure it’s responsive as it will appear in every material of your marketing kit.
TIP #1: When hiring a designer, make sure you are very clear about what you are trying to achieve and who your target audience is.
Now, if you’re low on budget, a logo should be enough to get started.
If you are a little techy and design-oriented, the internet’s got plenty of tools you can choose from to create your own marketing materials on a budget.
In this day and age, a website should be an essential part of your marketing strategy.
Useless to say, you don’t have to be a web designer to create your own website. Again, if you are a little tech savvy, there are a lot of platforms such as Wix, Squarespace or WordPress that can help you build a website within hours, and with little budget.
If you already have a brand identity established, you should only play around with the same fonts, colors, and logo for a coherent look across all platforms.
Your business website should provide enough information for a potential client to validate your business as legitimate. I would then recommend including the following information on your website:
- Business name or Logo
- About us
- Contact info (e-mail address, phone number, mailing address)
- E-commerce shop (if your business sells products online; basic product offering information if you don’t sell online)
- Social media widgets
Crafting your own professional website can get quite overwhelming but don’t panic. With so many free tutorials on the internet, there is no chance you can’t do it.
Now, if you are in the business of selling products, physical or online, a very powerful marketing tool that you can successfully use is the shopping catalog. Not only you can make your products look good, but this is a good opportunity to create mood boards. Showcase your products as they’re going to be used. Like the IKEA catalog, for example. Don’t we all wait for the new catalog to launch? Just to give it a little flip and see what’s new. Oh, what a delight!
Not to mention the fact that you can create interactive digital catalogs that you can directly embed on your website. Cool right?!
If you’ve just opened a new coffee shop, gym place or the cool new brunch spot, what a better way to get the word out than by spreading flyers all over town?
As I mentioned before, you really don’t need to be a Photoshop pro to design your own marketing materials. There are hundreds of free flyer templates that you can choose from. Easily editable, you can customize a flyer to fit your branding within minutes.
I know you’re on a tight budget because we’re talking about marketing materials on a budget. So, you will probably don’t have the budget for hiring a copywriter. In this case, you need to make sure your message is clear enough to engage prospects.
Writing effective marketing copy is a quite a hard task to do, especially when you don’t have any experience. Regardless of the format (leaflet, catalog, brochure) here are a few basic rules to help you write good copy that sells:
- Plan your approach. Think about all the aspects: who is your target audience, what should be the tone of voice, etc.
- Split your copy into smaller chunks of text to make it more easy to read and navigate through.
- Avoid being too salesy
- Instead of making a list of your features, try to focus on the benefits. More specific, how will your products and services improve someone’s life.
- Use you and your. It will be a more direct and friendly approach to customers.
- Use questions to make it more engaging.
- Make sure your branding is on point – include logo, USP, contact and any other details you think the customer will find useful.
TIP #2: Every piece of your marketing materials should include a call to action without being too salesy. It will take your business to the next level, turning awareness into new business.
Printing physical materials
If you made it through here, you are almost done. Printing your marketing materials can be done in-house as much as externalizing this service. Investing in good printers will make sense especially with a longer print run. Otherwise, I wouldn’t suggest you invest your hard earned money into buying expensive printers. Whatever the choice here, just make sure you’re choosing quality over quantity.
All your marketing materials: business cards, website, flyers, catalogs, brochures will create the first impression of your business. So, you need to make sure you invest time and money into making them look professional and not cheap. Even if you didn’t hire a professional for this job.
Well designed materials will say that you care about your business and you put a lot of thought and hard work into it. And that’s exactly the look you’re going for, right?!
Written by: Adelina Noge – content marketing strategist @Flipsnack.
Caffeine fiend, proud Netflixian and music festival denizen.