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If you have a service business or are launching an ecommerce brand it doesn’t have to cost tens of thousands of dollars to build a beautiful brand.
Most businesses need a few things to get started including a website, marketing materials, social media content, brand identity document, etc. You might think that a marketing brochure will cost thousands to have designed, but what if there was a way to get it for $10? Good news, there is.
The inspiration for this post came from a previous conversation with a colleague that started a business. He had done the best he could with his website (based on the level of knowledge he had), but it still wasn’t that good. For just a few hundred dollars more he could have had something that looked like he'd been in business for 20 years. He just had no idea how to improve his brand cost effectively.
He was starting a social media management agency and this is the feedback I gave him. Perhaps you need to hear it too.
I'm just going to be honest with you. Otherwise what is the point of being friends and colleagues.
I can't send this to anybody. I'm sorry if that hurts to hear, but it's not about you, it's about the brand which you are not quite done building.
You're pitching social media management with only 77 followers on instagram and 2 facebook likes. There is no credibility there.
You're pitching SEO and content curation with only 10 blog posts. All of which are brief and have no curated imagery, which is what you do...
Your pricing sheet looks thrown together and is not intuitive to read.
If you want to succeed at this you need case studies and a brand that displays your expertise. When people go to your site they need to be thinking: "Oh yeah this is the company I've been looking for." Self reflection is hard to do, but you need to do it.
My unsolicited recommendation is to go:
1. License professionally branded content from Creative Market. Literally everything you need can be purchased there for pennies on the dollar. Website template, flyers, email templates, pitch decks, anything.
2. Drop your prices and start signing clients on Fiverr to build case studies. Then put them prominently on the website.
3. Build your brand following and engagement.
4. Build your blog and domain authority.
I took the time to write this because you've clearly put a lot of time into it and I want you to succeed.
Good luck brother. Talk soon,
I'm not justtalking about tools for businesses like digital marketing services. This applies to any kind of brand, like insurance companies, retail sandwich shops, contractors, personal trainers, and more. There are online tools available that have been created by freelancers in the gig economy that are likely to save you tens of thousands of dollars right off the top, while also making you look like a Fortune 500 company overnight.
One of the main tools out there is CreativeMarket.com.
This service offers templates, mockups and other branded materials that designers have created. The designers create stores where they list all their offerings within Creative Market. When you find what you like and need you can license the use rather than contracting a designer to do it for you. Materials include website templates, business cards, brochures, proposals, logos, flyers, magazines, fonts, stationary or anything else that you can imagine, including t-shirt mockups. Go to Creative Market and type what you’re looking for in the search bar. I guarantee they have many options. “Social media templates'' has thousands of options. No more worrying about how to cost effectively create a thematically consistent social media profile.
A great book to read about brand clarity is Building a Storybrand. In that book you’ll learn how to trim down your customer communication so ‘what you do’ is very clear.
Remember all the offers in Creative Market are customizable, so you can reach out to the designer and make any changes you might need. Including color, positioning, etc. They will charge you hourly most likely, but you’re still WAY ahead compared to hiring a branding agency or something. More on this later.
The website is a big deal. If you’re a service business use Squarespace because it is easier and cleaner than Wordpress. If you’re in ecommerce use Shopify because it is the best. If you buy a theme from Creative Market then you’ll have saved tens of thousands of dollars on development costs. Squarespace and Shopify offer their own themes but there are more better options on Creative Market. In our opinion.
If you buy social media post templates for something like Canva, marketing brochures, or email marketing templates we definitely do not recommend using the designers on Creative Market. To furnish these materials with copy and creative you’ll want to go over to Fiverr or Upwork for that. These sites are built to connect business owners with freelancers who can perform various services, including copywriting, social media post creation/management, branding, etc.
Let’s say you own an online business and sell T-shirts, Creative Market has what's called mockups where you have a blank virtual flat-lay t-shirt, and you just add your design or photo on the t-shirt image.
You will have to be proficient in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop to place the design on the shirts yourself. If you’re not, hire someone to do this for you on Fiverr for like $3. In any event you’ll be a lot less concerned about what it's going to take for your t-shirts to look good on your website when it only costs you $20 to license the mockup instead of thousands to produce an original.
Let’s take another example of Canvas prints. How are brands able to sell customized canvas prints with amazing backgrounds? Are they leasing an incredible office space and hanging their canvas just for a picture? No. They licensed a mockup and swapped out a blank canvas with an image of their design.
What about service businesses like doctor’s or pest control. If you want to develop a brochure handout. Go to Creative Market, choose a brochure design you like and license it for just a few dollars. Branding agencies charge thousands of dollars for this stuff. It works the same way for all types of marketing materials. If you want an affordable flyer, they have that too.
This is a process that costs less than $20 as opposed to four thousand dollars on an all day photo shoot. That kind of expense is unrealistic for a new brand and even established brands can benefit from cost savings too. After all we’re talking about saving thousands of dollars.
Freepik is another tool that you can use to get stock photos for your site, brochures, emails, header images for your LinkedIn or whatever. Pricing starts at $10 a month, so it’s also very affordable.
An important benefit of using the tools of a reliable service is that you won’t have to worry about a lawsuit because you've unintentionally used licensed content that you weren't supposed to. The fee you pay Freepik ensures you have a right to use the options offered. Their service has what you need I assure you.
You need a blog. Every company should have a blog. The website template you buy from Creative Market will have one for you. But what are you going to write about? The book They Ask, You Answer talks all about the importance of the right content. It asks you to: answer the questions your customers ask. A great idea for sure. But who is going to write it? You don’t have time for that.
Freelance writing services like Textbroker, Verblio,& Problogger. are an excellent choice. If you have copy needs or ideas of things you want to say to build an audience, generate useful information online or off for customers and prospects, add descriptive content to the products you're selling, write sales copy or more. Try hiring one of these services and expect to pay $.04 per word.
Typically a business owner has ideas and knowledge that he or she is trying to apply to their business, but needs help getting it in writing. You can use a company like Sonix.ai (low cost lower quality) or Rev.com (higher cost higher quality) to transcribe your dictations. Simply say what you know on a specific topic (5-10 minutes), have it transcribed through Rev.com, then send the transcription to a work order in Textbroker. For $.04 cents a word, a writer will rewrite the whole thing. They will produce something that sounds amazing and the quality of the information will be very high because it has come from you, the expert.
Imagine getting a blog post for fifty dollars that would have taken you three days to complete. Instead, you just sat down for five or ten minutes, shared the knowledge that you have and let somebody make it much more organized and coherent. You talk three times faster than you write, so it's about efficiency and quality, but it's also about building the content in a cost effective way.
All the suggestions made concern very efficient and effective ways to make your business legitimate and successful for a very low cost. You can have great pictures, great themes, great design and great content at an affordable price. These are tools and strategies that work. Give some of these strategies and tools a try and let us know how we did on the recommendation!
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