What To Do When You Can’t Afford An Ad Agency?

One email we received recently left me reminiscing. I thought my people were a little harsh to dismiss the writer as a cheapskate.

Hi Vivienne

I have met you twice and during the 2 occasions, you unselfishly and unreservedly pointed out the areas of improvement I should make on my press advertisements and marketing materials. Honestly, I did not expect a free analysis and a free recommendation. All the advertising experts I have met before you gave me a general overview of what my business needed and duly left a quotation for my consideration. You were different. You were awesome. I salute your professionalism.

Much as I value your knowledge, experience and service, I’m on a shoe string budget. I’m wondering how I can afford your services – from marketing strategy, creative concepts, design execution to the whole spectrum of production work.¬† In fact, I’m wondering how a start-up small business like myself, who clearly need expert help, can afford professionals like yourself. Many of us usually hire freelance designers and run to a nearby quick-print shop to get things done. We do not have the benefits of marketing and advertising consultancy. Our ads and marketing materials are mostly pretty layout – they are not constructed with marketing objectives and end results in mind.

I’m in a dilemma. I know I would like to engage you and Versa but I really need to look at my numbers first. I thank you for your time and I will definitely give you a call within 2 weeks.

Employees probably cannot¬† understand the magnitude of the financial struggles most start-ups face. Seeing the cash literally “flow away” is nightmarish. This gentleman was not a cheapskate. He was being realistic. I have been there, way back in 1998. When I founded my company during the Asian Financial Crisis, I had less than $3,000 in the bank with nothing to fall back on. My first check came in at a whopping $117.00 which did not even cover the fees for me to register and set up my own company. Yet, that was the sweetest hundred-odd dollars I ever had. With that kind of income, I could only do guerrilla marketing. I also leveraged on my friends network of industry experts for copy writing, design and printing. I was fortunate.

Today, start-ups and small businesses are much more fortunate. Thanks to technology and the Internet, we have Continue reading “What To Do When You Can’t Afford An Ad Agency?”