How to Get By with a $500 Marketing Budget (part 2 of 3)

Print collateral is a must-have even on a small marketing budget -- see what essentials you need. So in my last blog post, I tried to deter you from only dedicating $500 to your annual marketing budget. I also suggested some tips on how to make a $500 marketing budget work for you, even though I wouldn’t advise it. Now here’s the fun part. If you are set on a $500-a-year marketing budget, how do you spend that $500 wisely?

Start with traditional marketing: print collateral.

Yes, print collateral. While we’ve gone completely digital with nearly everything, old-school print collateral is still necessary. The first thing I recommend to every nonprofit and small business is to start with basic marketing collateral like business cards. You absolutely HAVE to have something to hand to people when you are networking. Even when you are not intentionally pushing your business, you’d be surprised at how informal dinner conversations can lead to new business. I met my assistant when I was getting a massage, and I got a new client when I was out at a restaurant with my husband. If I didn’t have a business card that described my business and provided my contact information, I would have missed out on both opportunities.

Vistaprint offers a number of business card templates, customized business cards, and quick shipping. Countless other websites offer similar products. Plus, for less than $50, you can get 500 business cards and return address labels (which you’ll need for the next piece of print collateral).

The second element of your printed marketing collateral should be notecards. If you prefer to go generic, you can pick up a 20-pack of notecards at Target for under $10. Otherwise, go customized, and leave another reminder of your business at your potential customer’s fingertips (Vistaprint is also a great option for notecards). So why notecards? Because they show the personal side of you and your business. Everyone wants to feel special. Drop a note after a first meeting, during the holidays, or on a potential client’s birthday. Find a reason to write without a motive other than to remind them that you—and your business—exist.

If you’re really cringing at the idea of written notecards, then use a service like SendOutCards, which designs and mails the cards for you. You can customize as much as you’d like, from the font to the image to the card type (postcard, 2-panel card, etc.). Plus, it lets you schedule reminders so that you never miss an opportunity to send a card. SendOutCards costs just $0.49/postcard or under $1.00 for a regular card (plus postage).

The third element of your marketing print collateral should be a leave-behind that describes your products and services more in-depth. Some organizations opt for brochures, but if you’re strapped for cash, a simple one-sheeter like the one I created for Write on Red, LLC will do. All you need is something that will give potential clients more information about the products and services you offer. It’s a great reminder for them and may spark a connection about how they—or one of their contacts—may benefit from your products/services. You can print something simple from your home printer or have copies made at your local FedEx Office, Staples or online.

Here’s how the necessary print collateral break down cost-wise:

  • Business cards (500 or so): $25-$50 depending on your design, vendor, shipping, etc.
  • Notecards and postage (aim for 50 a year): $60-$100 depending on how branded and personalized you want the card to be
  • One-sheeter (50+ depending on your networking): $20-??? depending on how fancy you get and your desired quantity
  • Low-end of your budget dedicated to print: $105

That leaves us with $395 in our $500-a-year marketing budget. Stay tuned to blog post 3 for more information on how you can allocate the remainder of your marketing budget and make $500 a year work for you.

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