There has been a common theme among many business owners lately: they simply are NOT willing to invest in their business and they are unaware of the need for a business investment. Many believe websites need to be cheap, their branding is literally nonexistent and website maintenance and security are an afterthought.
What is Your Business Investment Worth?
In a conversation with a colleague, I was going over a typical business investment startup strategy. Branding, Website, Systems programs, all to get them started on the right foot. The answer: “I want to have clients and money coming in first”.
One nagging question keeps coming to mind. If you don’t invest in your business, why should your customers invest in you? Without your business investment, you have no “skin in the game.”
This is only one of many similar conversations…and I am struggling with this. You want to start a business, maybe the business of your dreams, yet you have no desire to invest in your success?
I just don’t get it. Where’s the business investment?
Let’s go back a few short years…
You started a business:
- You called the sign shop and had them paint you a beautiful sign (aka “the shingle”) which was installed on your storefront. This could have been from your house or a small starter location. What was the cost? Probably about $1,000 – $2,000.
- From the “sign guy” you probably had them come up with a fancy logo with specific type to have your name printed – your branding if you will. Cost around $500.
- It was imperative that you had your name in the yellow pages. The ads were anywhere from $500 to $2000 A YEAR for your listing. You did this without thinking twice.
- Flyers were printed, mailed and distributed by hand. – $200 – $500
- Grand opening celebrations were held, people invited, neighboring businesses, friends and family. $300 for food, a few spirits and a nice cake.
At the low end, that business investment would easily be $2,500 just to open the doors. Going a little higher, you were looking at $5,000 plus, just to get started. Getting that full-page yellow pages ad, even in Topeka, Kansas, would cost you over $10,000.
You didn’t think twice about this; you needed to be in the Yellow Pages just to let people know you’re a legitimate business and to make them more “comfortable” about calling you, especially if they haven’t done business with you before. People who are “flimflam artists” don’t list themselves in the phone book where they can be tracked down. So you must be listed in the Yellow Pages just to help prove your legitimacy.
It was simply what you did. You wanted people to know about your business and get the word out; you put money, time and effort into making that business investment. No one ever thought twice.
Every year the Yellow Pages guy would call you up and had you renew your listing. This is called recurring marketing. He would say to you, “Hey, that 1/4 page ad just doesn’t cut it…look at your competitor, they had a 1/2 page ad. The result, you went with a 1/2 or even a full page ad. These ads would easily run from $2,500 to $10,000 a year. Each and every business “just did it.”
(From Entrepreneur.com <http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/83110> 2006)
Fast forward…to Today’s marketing.
You have the next great idea and are ready to launch that new business. You are going to CHANGE THE WORLD!
Branding, Website, Marketing, Systems….uh – no thank you. I want customers first. REALLY?
If you don’t believe in yourself, why should your customers?
If you don’t invest in yourself, why should your customer?
Let’s take that line of thinking and change it a bit for today…
Don’t think twice about this: You need to be properly branded and listed just to let people know you’re a legitimate business and to make them more “comfortable” about calling you, especially if they haven’t done business with you before. People who are “flimflam artists” don’t invest the time and money to properly brand and market themselves online where they can be tracked down. So you must be properly branded just to help prove your legitimacy.
Now, does that apply to you? When you hand your business card to a client, is it an extension of your business? Is it professionally done and looks good? Or is it something scratched out in a document program and printed with an ink jet printer, complete with smears?
Does your website and marketing say “I am a force to be reckoned with.” Or does it say “Hey, I’m just here to test the waters”?
Think of your business investment like your investment portfolio. You want a diverse portfolio that covers all the bases: long term, mid-term and short term options.
- Long Term: Professional branding and stationery system with a consistent look and feel across all mediums for brand recognition, a consistent look and feel across web, print, social marketing.
- Mid-Term: A professional website, one that conveys the message of your business. Don’t just put up a web page with some contact info, especially with an email that ends in “gmail.com” or ACK…even worse “aol.com”. This really sends the message that “I am only doing this temporarily.”
- Short Term: Marketing exposure…this means SEO (search engine optimization). I read a good quote that I can modify a bit: “Good tattoos aren’t cheap, cheap tattoos aren’t good.” This applies to SEO and marketing strategies. If you are getting discount services, you will be getting discount results. Think of SEO like your Yellow Pages ad. A business should invest a fair amount of money getting the word out and showing they are a legitimate business.
Look at the Big Business Investment Picture
When you look at your investment portfolio, you look at “the big picture.” You don’t scrutinize each and every minute detail. You know that by having diversity and investing across the spectrum will drive long term results. The same can be said for your business investment in marketing and branding.
Start putting money into your branding. Get a good stationery system in place with a consistent look and feel. Invest in a professional website and hire a writer to create content that truly gets your message across and understands SEO terms and how to use them. Invest in a good SEO strategy to get the message out there.
Let your customers know they should invest in your business by showing them that YOU are investing in your business!