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Hi! And welcome to Episode 8 of Startup Marketing. Today, we’re going to be talking about paid marketing strategies or the kind of marketing that requires a monetary investment. Don’t let these strategies intimidate you just because they cost money; investing and paying for marketing can still be affordable. It all comes down to doing your research, prioritizing your efforts and finding the right partners to help you. 

As we go through each recommendation, I’ll be sure to outline my experience with pricing for that particular strategy. It is by no means a guarantee of the price, but it will at least give you a starting point. Keep in mind, pricing varies by market; so what flies here in the Midwest as reasonable, may not be true if you’re working with folks from a larger city or agency. 

Let’s dive in!

I’d like to go a little more in depth about a topic I touched on last week: creating a website. While I put this on my “free” list, remember I told you that it could also be considered an expense depending on your comfort level with learning something new. I absolutely believe you can get started for free. As your business grows and evolves, your website is definitely something I’d move on to the expense list. 

If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want to build a website, the first expense you’ll want to start investigating is hiring a website developer. There are plenty of freelance website designers out there who will do an amazing job, so before you get sucked in to working with an agency, do your research and look for someone who freelances. They may end up being more affordable to work with because they don’t have the agency overhead built in to their pricing. But, buyer beware, someone who’s super inexpensive may not get the job done to the highest standards, so make sure that you’re doing your research in to their portfolio and talking to some clients to make sure that you won’t end up paying someone who doesn’t hit the right notes for you. 

If you’re hiring someone to work on your website, you’ll want to make sure they can give you information about the structure of your site, the type of content they envision on it and the user experience: meaning how your customers will move through the website and find information. Having a website that looks pretty, but doesn’t get you conversions isn’t worth paying for. The pricing for this kind of service will likely set you back at least a couple thousand dollars if your site is pretty small. I’ve heard of others paying more depending how large the site is and factoring in any special functionality it needs to have. 

Again, starting out, this can be a relatively low investment. You could pay someone to help you design it and make it look nice, then return to work and make improvements as you have the cash flow. So make sure you choose a website developer who can help you map out the critical must-have elements, then phase two and three elements that you can invest in down the road. 

The other part of your website you might want to consider paying for is to have someone write professional text. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes of a website to get you to rank on Google; having text that’s professionally written will go a long way for you. This kind of text is what marketers call “optimized copy”. Which means it’s full of the key words and phrases that Google likes to see so they can link you to searches and rank you correctly. Hiring someone to do this can be extremely affordable: a couple hundred dollars or a few hundred depending on the size of your website. If you have limited dollars to invest in your website, this is where I’d start investing. Likely you can use a template from your website provider and easily customer colors and fonts to be on-brand, writing Google-approved text takes more expertise. If you can afford to hire a designer and a copywriter, I highly recommend it, but like I said, you have to prioritize your goals, so, within a website, I’d rank google-friendly text, then design as a close second. 

Another paid strategy that you’ll want to invest in that is part of your website is Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. You might’ve heard this term before because it’s a pretty big buzz topic within marketing and for good reason. SEO, is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through search engine results. Every business covets being on the first page, and ideally in the top few results, for their business on Google. How do you get there? SEO, my friends. 

Now, I’m not even going to pretend to tell you exactly how to do all of the SEO best practices, but I do know what they are. And I recommend paying an expert to help you because some of them are very technical and happen within the code of your website. 

Common SEO best practices you want to have in place include having all of your meta descriptions, alt tags and images optimized on your website. You want your website text to include a variety of search keywords and phrases that google can match you with. You want to have fresh copy on your website. You want it to load quickly and you want your content to be valuable. That’s a very quick and dirty run down, and like I said, it gets very technical. Hiring an SEO expert to do these things for you will help you a lot. You’ll likely be paying a pretty penny for their services, think at least a couple thousand dollars  up to several thousand depending on their experience and scope of work, however, investing in a solid SEO strategy will help you get in front of more ideal clients by pleasing the google gods. For those of you who are homeowners, paying for SEO is a lot like paying to update the “bones” of your house. Not necessarily the most glamourous thing and often not anything people will see, but worth it because you have a solid foundation. 

If you have a website, but need to keep up with fresh content to help your SEO, consider hiring a virtual assistant to help you write blogs if you aren’t a writer. If you are a writer, throw blogging on your list of “free” strategies and high five yourself for another small win! If you’re like me and you’re not much of a writer, this can be an affordable expense. You’ll want to do your research to make sure the person writing your blogs understands best practices, like how to structure a post and research it appropriately so that Google recognizes your blogs as valuable content (and ranks you higher—by the way, if you haven’t figured it out already, building and maintaining your website is like, 50% about your brand and 50% about making google like you). There’s a science to a good blog post, which you can research and accomplish yourself, or hand off for a moderate expense, which will vary depending on how frequently you want someone to write for you. 

Continuing on the google train, you’ve got paid search results, or pay per click. You’re all familiar with the top two or three search results in google that are ads. This is what I’m talking about. Businesses pay to be there. Running a PPC campaign is something I prefer to outsource, because it takes a lot of research to know which keywords to target. A PPC campaign works like this: businesses bid on search terms, like specific keywords or phrases. Then, they pay google to put their website at the top of the search results for the keywords or phrases they’re paying for. Every time someone clicks on the ad, the business gets charged a certain amount of money, hence the “pay per click”. These clicks can cost you pennies on the dollar, or cost you anywhere from $2-3 on up to $20/25. It all comes down to how in demand the keywords your bidding on are. That’s why I recommend working with someone to do this for you. They’ll be able to guide you to something that’s affordable and run a good campaign for you that yields results for a moderate budget. Think maybe a few hundred dollars or less. 

Alright, we’ve talked a lot about the paid options you have through your website, which always dovetails into paying to get ranked on google. That can seem intimidating, so let’s talk about some other strategies that aren’t related to google!

One way to go that’s extremely affordable is social media advertising. We’re all familiar with it. This is something you can do yourself and just pay the cost of the campaign budget, or something you can pay to outsource. It’s really up to you. Placing ads on social media isn’t necessarily hard; the system to do it is relatively intuitive. It gets a little tricky when you’re trying to fine tune your audience and get the cost per ad as low as possible, because that’s your goal: to get as many clicks at the cheapest rate possible. If you’re placing the ads yourself, you can allocate as little as $50/month to this effort and see results, just plan on having to keep a close eye on your ads to make sure they’re performing as well as possible. If you’re going to hire someone to do this for you, plan to spend a few hundred dollars including the budget for placing your ads to accommodate their time and expertise. I like social media advertising because it can help you get in front of more ideal customers, help you grow your email list by promoting free resources, and drive traffic to your website. Best of all, you set a cap on your spending and only pay when people click your ad, which guarantees you will never go over your advertising budget. 

Another way to invest in marketing on social media is to partner with an influencer. You’ll want to do your research and make sure you find someone that feels like a natural fit for your brand rather than partnering with anyone and everyone. This strategy is going to cost you in terms of product that you’ll give to the person in exchange for a testimonial to their audience about how awesome you are, as well as potentially costing you per post; it really depends on how that influencer structures their sponsorships. This can be a really cost effective way to market your business though if you’re on a budget. 

Another way you can invest in your marketing efforts is to hire a brand strategist. Now, you all know this is one that I’m going to be a big fan of. A brand strategist will be able to help you do anything from actually creating a brand if you don’t have one to creating a brand strategy for you. As we’ve discussed, a brand is important to have because it connects you to your ideal customer and makes you distinct and memorable within the marketplace. All critical things that need to happen to help your business grow and increase profitability. If you’ve already got a brand in place, creating a brand strategy is like creating a PR plan for your business. For example, in my former position at a credit union, we had a brand in place (to be a leader in relationship building), but then we put a brand strategy in place: to be known for financial education within our community. To be known for this, we decided to invest heavily in programs and partnerships that allowed us to share our knowledge. 

A brand strategist can help identify a unique opportunity to set your business apart from your competitors and help brand you as the expert in that area. This strategy is going to cost you both in the short term to pay for the plan, but also over time as you’ll need to continue to invest in the vision to make yourself well-known for your efforts. It can, however, pay you in dividends, by getting you in front of your target audience more often and creating more recall around your business with your target audience. Both huge wins!

And last, but not least, investing in a marketing coach is another paid marketing strategy. For example, if you were to partner with me, I’m going to help you get set up with the tools and templates you need to execute all of the free marketing strategies, saving you time and money. Plus, I’ll also help you put together a 12-month marketing plan and teach you exactly how to manage it in the most efficient way possible. I’m going to do a lot of the legwork for you, then teach you how to use my tried-and true system. Which means, you’ve made a long term investment in your marketing IQ and business structure; something you won’t regret! I have three different tiers of coaching packages, ranging from basics all the way up to getting the full depth of my expertise. So, no matter what your budget and experience with marketing, I’ll be able to create a package that suits what you need. 

Whew! Ok, we’ve talked about a lot of really technical things today! I know it’s a lot to take in. As you can see, there’s plenty of ways you can market your business. Ranging from free all the way up to serious monthly investments. Don’t forget, not all of these strategies are necessary for success. Evaluate each one to determine if it’s something you can afford and how quickly it will help you meet your business goal. You don’t want to invest in marketing just for the sake of investing, remember, you want your marketing to support your business goals. So start with those and pick the strategies that make the most sense for you.  

To get all of these strategy ideas, head to getauthenticbranding.com/resources to download your checklist today. And of course, if you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe to Startup Marketing to help other women like you find this podcast.