They start out with the challenges of small brands, and the same budget constraints. To illustrate the point, Richard Branson started out selling discard records from the boot of a car.
Communication expenses are rarely in the budget of a start-up. On closer examination they don’t have to be, provided the right mix of low-cost elements are there. The mistake that most small enterprises make is to operate from the textbook with a mix of materials and mediums that are expensive.
The natural urge is to have the ‘correct’ stock of communication materials and channels, rather than the better approach of finding out what works. The expense places a constraint on the enterprise, as well as the time of the entrepreneur.
In actual fact, communication should be opportunistic. The three key elements needed are a logo, a printer, the telephone number of a digital printer, and a credit card.
The logo should probably be the most expensive one-off item if the desktop printer and ink are taken into account. It has to be designed well, so it can be used easily. To much elaboration will make it difficult to understand, and through that, it can lead to potential loss of sales.
Here’s a smart, low cost tactic for logos. Use black and one of the primary printer colours, cyan or magenta. That way, expensive printer ink is reduced. Make sure that the logo reproduces equally well in black only. Full colour letterheads are not necessary. Also make sure to get the logos in high resolution format so there is no need to multiply expenses with designers.
Stationery requirements can be reduced with letterheads made in word processing software. Consider the need for business cards carefully. They are rapidly falling out of favour as the use of mobile devices increases. If need be, acquire them from the digital printer in a small run of 100 to begin with.
As far as signage is concerned, if need be, get a small one made through the digital printer or a signage house.
Use the printer to best possible effect with individual printouts. Where possible use easily mailed PDFs instead of brochures.
If your efforts come up short, ask the designer for help, but make sure that the job is clearly briefed so that the expense is reduced.
If you can isolate a geographical area where you source clients, use supermarket advertising boards, with tear-off numbers. Make sure that the pages pinned up are replaced as the numbers are torn off.
Posters can also be effective. If posters are required, they can be made in very low numbers with the services of one of the print bureaus in town that print up to A3.
As far as print advertising is concerned, make use of classified ads. These are exceptionally effective and very well used.
For wider marketing services use Facebook, and do not hesitate to use your credit card. Pay close attention to targeting, and choose keywords carefully. Once you have a useful number of people joining your page, boost the posts. Do not rely on virality, as this is approaching one to three percent. Expect to spend N$1 to N$2 to acquire an individual and approximately N$ 400 on post boosts per month.
Fill up the rest of your Facebook daily presence with posts which are of interest to both you and your target market.
For professional services, used LinkedIn. Make sure to give useful takes on your field of expertise, as well as practice notes. Do not worry that you might be losing business by providing information, as people will appreciate that you have the skills to do the work for you.
These techniques not only reduce the cost of communication, but also make communication more effective and less time consuming. There is very limited need to have a big budget, and many of the bigger brands use these techniques themselves.