Branding your business can get expensive if you’re not careful where you invest your money. With your specific business goals in mind, consider these branding areas when deciding where to splurge or scrimp with your budget.
Splurge: Hire a Graphic Designer
A well-designed logo is a visual representation of your business and is a foundational element of your branding efforts. Think of your logo as the cornerstone of your brand’s identity, and if done right, it will be memorable and unique to your business. Unless you or someone on your team is a trained designer, it is worth the money to hire a graphic designer. Hiring a professional doesn’t need to cost a lot, and you’ll have a valuable branding asset that looks good and sets you apart from the crowd. If you haven’t worked with a professional designer before, here’s a good resource from costhelper.com to get you started.
Scrimp: Outbound Marketing
If you’re on a limited budget, scale back on outbound marketing, which includes traditional methods such as direct mail, TV spots and print ads. These tactics put your brand out there, but consumers can easily ignore them and often do: direct mail pieces go straight to the recycle bin; TV commercials are muted or skipped; and print ads line the bottoms of bird cages.
The internet has changed the marketing landscape, offering measurable two-way communication known as inbound marketing. Unless you are a local business that has had success with your chosen outbound methods, save your money and build your brand with more effective inbound marketing campaigns.
Splurge: Website Architecture
Creating a website with impact and pizzazz that resonates with your customers is important, but if your site’s architecture isn’t up to snuff because it relies on out-of-date technology and is poorly organized, a great design won’t help your brand or increase sales.
A site’s architecture refers to the way the pages link to each other, which makes all the difference when it comes to your ranking in the digital world. Because poor site architecture can derail these all-important rankings, your traffic and conversions will suffer no matter how much money you spend on online marketing. If organizing information for the web isn’t your strong suit, invest in an information architect to help optimize your site and make those search engines work in your favor.
Scrimp: Printed Collateral
Hot-off-the-press printed collateral items such as glossy four-panel mini-catalogues, glitzy spiral-bound sales kits and high-end product one sheets can quickly break the bank. While they may look great, these permanent hard copies can’t be changed when your business does. If you use sales kits, consider sending high-quality PDFs to your clients, or printing them on a quality printer and presenting in an attractive report holder. Spend printing dollars instead on quality business cards, which should feature your website, social sites and blog addresses, and a well-designed promotional piece like a basic brochure which can be used for many situations.
Splurge: List with Online Directories
Getting your website listed with the major directories will help your online presence, since the more legitimate sites that link back to you the higher you’re ranked. While there are many free directories out there, it is well-worth listing with fee-based directories.
Scrimp: Expensive, Logo’d Tchotchkes
The Urban Dictionary defines tchotchke as, “A small piece of worthless crap, a decorative knick knack with little or no purpose.” While this may seem a little harsh, if you’re on a tight budget, steer clear of ordering thousands of promotional items stamped with your logo. Save the foam stress balls and keychains for when your budget has some room. Exception: if you’ve identified an item that your customers love and use, slap your logo on it and get them out there.
Splurge: Digital Marketing
Invest in digital marketing options like search engine optimization and pay-per-click campaigns, which typically provide a higher return on your investment and are measurable, compared to traditional marketing tactics. You can easily target your digital marketing based on specific demographics, including your chosen service areas. These digital options open a two-way communication with your customers who searched online for the services or products you offer, which means they are interacting with and getting to know your brand, versus being bombarded with outbound marketing messages they didn’t ask for. Learn more about launching successful digital marketing campaigns from this article from B2C.
Scrimp: Press Exposure
You don’t need to hire an expensive public relations firm or pricey consultant to get your brand noticed. Media coverage is valuable and you should take steps to get your name and news out there, but you can launch an effective PR program yourself without spending money. Decide what stories you want to pitch, then sign up for free tools like HARO, SourceBottle and Publiseek, which are available for business owners to use.
What advice do you have when it comes to splurging or scrimping on your branding budget? Share with us in the comments below.