5 Marketing Tools That You Need to Spend Money On

You’ve heard of the phrase, “it takes money to make money.” Well, if you're just starting out in your business, you’ll quickly come to realize that there is a cost to doing business. You may have rent, inventory, supplies, permits or even legal fees to pay for depending on the size and scope of your company.  Since we are doing business in 2015, you’ll also have to figure out your domain name, domain hosting, mailers, website design, etc.  As small business owners, we’re all strapped for cash and we hate spending money unnecessarily. But not everything should be DIY (do-it-yourself). Sometimes trying to save money and do things yourself costs you more in lost time and lost business than you saved in cash.

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, there are definitely items that you need to spend on. If you’re serious about growing your business and making a living from it – you’ll know that marketing needs to be one of them. If you skimp on your marketing strategy early on, you’ll risk paying double down the road.

Consider these 5 marketing tools that you need to spend money on:

1.       Website: Even if you’re not in e-commerce of online sales, it’s still the first point of contact for new clients. While you no longer have to be a web developer to get a website up and running, you still should have some sense for design and layout, content management systems (CMS), and search engine marketing (SEM). Unless your business is web development or design, I’d leave this to the professionals. Ask for referrals for a good web designer based on your needs. Realize that if all you need is a simple 4-page website, the cost won’t be astronomical.

2. Domain and Hosting: It's important to get this right from the start as it affects your online findability, your online ranking and authority. Basic shared web hosting is great if your site is generating only a small amount of traffic. But if you're in the business of selling products or generating a large amount of traffic, it's crucial to choose a reliable web hosting company to ensure that your website remains safe and accessible all year round. As a business, you cannot afford to experience extended downtime. A dedicated or managed hosting provider is a far better choice.It will cost more upfront, but will be more reliable in the long run. The level and quality of technical support will be better too. 

3.       Photography: IPhone photos are a no, no if you want to be taken seriously. Hire a professional photographer. As I just mentioned, a great website is your best marketing tool. But many small businesses don’t figure a photo shoot into the expense of their website. Everyone has a friend who is “a good photographer” and is willing to help out for free. But when it comes to your business, photography is one on those areas where you really get what you pay for. It’s not just high-end equipment and knowledge of lighting that professional photographers bring – they also offer value to your business because they bring the knowledge, experience and capability to capture the essence of your business that customers and clients will notice. It is important to be able to compete in the market and professional photographers provide the skill that will enhance lighting and hide imperfections.

4.       Business Cards: Please do not use a template from Vistaprint. Hire a graphic designer. Sure, Vistaprint and other sites have free templates you can customize to create your own business cards, but do you really want to use a template that hundreds of other companies have also used? The point of your business card is to stand out and be memorable – and you simply can’t do that with a cut and paste template. A good designer can be cheaper than you’d expect.  Consider hiring a new freelancer or college student looking to build their portfolio.

5.       Associations, Memberships or Networking Events: Seek out opportunities to make valuable contacts with other entrepreneurs in the community. They can offer insight, knowledge, support and word-of-mouth to enable you to meet hundreds of other businesspeople, clients and customers. Also choose a few social networking functions to attend. Don’t break the bank by spending money on a different party every week – be strategic in the social outings you attend. Your goal should be to join groups that contain your potential clients or target markets. Websites like Hip Haus, Eventbrite and Notable are great resources to find interesting social events to attend. But research each event to ensure it will offer a crowd that aligns with your target market.

In a perfect world – we’d all have big budget marketing campaigns and a commercial during the Super Bowl. But until that day comes, we have to be strategic in our business growth and that means our marketing plans. If you’re not sure where to begin, maybe find a marketing consultant who can give you a free consultation. Discuss your business and your short term and long-term objectives. A consultation will give you a better understanding of what to invest in now and which marketing tools can be deferred until your next growth cycle.

Alethea Robinson is a seasoned, marketing professional specializing in developing unique identities for clients in the fashion, photography, beauty, food, travel, and lifestyle industries. With a marketing career spanning over 10 years, Alethea strives to develop a comprehensive visual language for each of her clients through collaborative brand strategy, identity and digital design, campaign art direction and photography styling. In her past life, Alethea worked in the marketing departments of such creative company’s as DHX Media, Breakthrough Entertainment and Cineflix Productions.

Alethea is #GirlBoss at See Girl Work Marketing & Branding and the writer/curator behind the fashion and beauty blog, Like, Wutever.

You can find See Girl Work on Twitter at @seegirlwork

You can find Like, Wutever on Twitter at @likewutever

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