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The $49,594 Small Business Branding Solution

Small Business Branding SolutionStep into my time machine.

I’m going to turn the clock back twenty years, and give you some advice for building your very own big brand for your business. Ready?

First, Let’s Create an Ad Campaign

We’ll need to create a “brand awareness” campaign for your company. We’re going to start with a perfect vehicle for advertising: your local newspaper.

Here’s your budget:

  • $4500 for the “creative,” which includes copywriting, artwork and a photo shoot (this is 1992, so prices are cheap compared to today)
  • $7500 for the ad buy. We’ll be running a quarter page ad in your local newspaper, five times a month over six months.
  • $99/month for the 800 number you’ll run in the ad
  • $350/month to pay the answering service to field the calls that come in

TOTAL: $14,694 over six months

Next, We’ll Do Direct Mail

Then, we’ll need to get you into some mailboxes. Direct mail is the best way to search for prospects and let them know about your offerings. We’ll be doing a three-part campaign with postcards.

  • $5000 for the creative including copywriting, and artwork (we’ll use the photos from the newspaper photo shoot)
  • $11,250 to print 15,000 postcards. They’re full color, so they’ll be 75 cents each. Color is expensive!
  • $450 to print and apply mailing labels
  • $2850 to mail postcards at 19 cents each.

TOTAL: $19,550

I know it seems like a lot of money, but you’ll be able to reach 5000 people, three times! And you’ll have room for about 500 words. That’s plenty, isn’t it?

We can expect a 2% conversion rate, so you may get up to 100 new prospects. Wow!

Then, You’ll Need to Attend Some Trade Shows

We’ve got to get you onto the trade show circuit. That’s where the deals are made!

We’ll start out easy: just three this year.

You’ll need:

  • $7,250 for a custom booth. That includes artwork, banners and signage.
  • $1,600 to reserve your space at each of the three trade shows
  • $3,200 for airfare, hotels and restaurant expenses

TOTAL: $15,250

GRAND TOTAL: $49,594

For less than $50,000, you’ll get your brand in front of:

  • 25,000 readers of your local newspaper
  • 5,000 residents of your region
  • 6,000 bleary-eyed trade show attendees

Isn’t that just great?*

*(She says, dripping with sarcasm).

Fast Forward to Today

Now, let’s look at your options for creating a brand awareness campaign today.

The smart way to do it? Share content that is helpful, valuable and remarkable. Make your brand the trustworthy authority in your field.

Spread the word about your business with these tools:


Want to reach beyond your local community? In 1992, you would have had to create a national advertising campaign that would have cost you much, much more than the local campaign outlined above.

Now, for $100 (or less!) you can reach out to the world. Share great information, be a solid resource, and make sure you hold onto those prospects by gathering their names on a mailing list (see below).

Email Marketing

Building an email list of interested prospects is one of the best (and least expensive) ways to reach a targeted group of people.

When prospects sign up to your list, they’re volunteering to hear from you. If they stay on your list, they’re still interested.

Hold their interest by offering useful information over time. When they’re ready to buy, your business will be the first one they think of.

Email marketing is today’s direct mail, for a fraction of the cost. You’ll spend anywhere from free (to start) to $19/month, depending on your email marketing provider. (Affiliate links)

What will you offer in exchange for that email address? Well, a downloadable PDF ebook is an excellent place to start.

PDF eBook

There’s a lot to love about PDF ebooks. They’re cross-platform compatible, easy to share and you can put them together over a long weekend.

They’re a perfect vehicle for nurturing prospects. You can share useful information in exchange for an email address, for example. You can create special reports, buyer’s guides, helpful checklists, worksheets, and more.

Social Media

No matter what others may say, I’m here to tell you that social media isn’t free. Oh sure, you can sign up for free, and maintain your account at no cost.

But you pay with your time. Not just the time you spend posting and updating all your social media outlets, but the time you spend getting yourself back on task after each social media distraction.

I’m all for using it, but plan out what you’ll say, how often and where. Be strategic about it so you make the most of its power.

I’d Never Go Back, Would You?

My design studio was founded in 1992. I remember the days when marketing your business was completely out of reach for many small business owners.

That’s one of the reasons I started the Big Brand System. I know what it’s like to bootstrap your way through your business marketing, and I want to share all I’ve learned in my 25 years as a designer and marketing consultant so your business marketing is easier, more effective, and more fun!

Thankfully, we have many more options today than we did back then. I wouldn’t step into that time machine for all the marketing budgets in the world, would you?

Question of the Week

What’s your favorite bootstrapper’s marketing technique? Share it in the comments!

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is an online educator, author, keynote speaker, and the founder of BIG Brand System. Read reviews of the tools used to run this site and business.

Pamela Wilson

I want to help you take the next step. Pick your free workshop topic and let’s do this!

7 thoughts on “The $49,594 Small Business Branding Solution”

  1. When it comes to bootstrapping I think that if you’re a consultant the best way to go is to use a 5-6 email micro-training course combined with a blog.

    A micro-course is ideal but if you promote it as, say, a limited series people are more willing to sign up because they know they’re getting training for free. My strategy is to deliver a “welcome, this is what you can expect” message and then 5 lessons over the coures of 10-12 days.

    I don’t push sales in the first two messages but thereafter, when folks have had a chance to see the content and insight I’m sharing, I include a link to an ebook.

    This is a great strategy because it shares my skills and knowledge at the same time generating a sense of my brand. Coupled with my podcast, it’s central to my business.

    • Hi Jon,

      That’s a great way to allow people to get to know you, and the quality of your work. They can draw their own conclusions, rather than have you push a conclusion on them. It’s still marketing, but it’s drawing people to you rather than pushing them there.

  2. It appears that the most successful for me has been the social media, which I include as Personal & Business Pages, Twitter, Blog and Newsletter. I don’t have a lot of subscribers yet, only a few hundred in my database, but I’ve been able to get other friends and “fans” to share my information and that has helped significantly.

  3. First of… there’s still a lot of businesses today doing what you described as a marketing strategy back in 1992. It’s appalling! (And in full disclosure: I was the recipient of a lot of those $$ as a marketing ‘go to guy’ back in those days…)

    My current marketing tool — which took me 16 months to perfect — is a variety of monthly digital magazines that I offer to local businesses as a customer retention product. I invite 20 local businesses in participate in each magazine — offer each one category exclusivity — and provide the complete ready-to-go editorial package (which includes 30 pages of fresh content) for $299/mth. The distribution is entirely through the participating businesses customer database so I avoid all the traditional ‘how do people find the magazine’ hassles.

    Everything is designed to offer small local businesses a turnkey valuable-added product that they can give to their customers free of charge. It’s a monthly, “Hi, I’m your local and I appreciate your business. Here’s a free digital magazine for you to enjoy. No sales pitch included!” It’s a doable, affordable and manageable way to brand a business and get a leg up on the competition.

    When you focus your attention on the most valuable asset any business has — current customers — great things happen.

    We’re now offering our magazine model to other savvy marketing types across the country. And making sure that no one spends $49,594 for an ill conceived branding solution.

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