There’s no need for you to overpay for your marketing and advertising. If you’re smart, you can get everything you need done cheaply or even free. I wrote a whole book on this subject, “Marketing Your Small Business on a Shoestring Budget.” I suggest picking that book up if you want a full treatment of the subject. Here, I’m going to touch on a few ways to save tons of money.

Graphic Design & Copywriting. There are several websites where graphic designers and writers bid for your projects. That creates competition, meaning you receive the lowest price possible. Here are two of the sites: www.elance.com and www.getafreelancer.com.

You can save tons of money on design and copywriting for logos, ads, brochures, catalogs, postcards, etc. I’ve gotten my ads designed for $50 a piece by a professional graphic designer. I’ve had people edit my books for about $250. You can find ghost writers there who will write a book for you. You still receive all the credit for writing it, and they aren’t mentioned at all.

Printing. There are numerous online printers that will print your color pieces for a fraction of the cost of a regular printer. If you’re not picky about a deadline and exact colors, you can save a ton of money on all your printing costs. Also, inquire about gang runs, which will save you even more money. A gang run means they run your project with other projects to cut down their costs. They pass the savings on to you.

Timeless Promotional Pieces. Write with vision. Imagine how your words will be perceived and interpreted two years, or even five years from now. Don’t use language that will date your piece and require you to reprint a year later. For example, instead of using a phrase such as “Our company is ten years old,” say — “Our company was founded in 1998.”

It’s usually not a good idea to include employee photos in your static promo pieces. Employees come and go. And some don’t go under the best of circumstances. Two years from now you surely don’t want to be stuck with the photo of an employee you fired for embezzling!

Drive ALL Traffic to Your Website. I mentioned this before, but if your campaign is to drive all potential clients to your website, then you won’t spend extra money on different campaigns. You won’t send any mixed messages. Your goal is to get people to a site that is focused on your business. You will reap the rewards, and save a lot of money on potentially wasted campaigns.

NEVER design a promotional piece yourself. A RockStar would never waste his time on something he or she doesn’t do well. Also, potential customers will see a very amateur design and come away believing your business is not successful. You take the chance you will never see them again. First impression is everything, especially here.

It is likely that most small business owners don’t dream of being “small” for long. Who doesn’t want to be the owner of the next successful restaurant chain such as McDonald’s or the next IT Company to watch its profits soar? Can you imagine what could happen if your small business could mimic the success of these innovative companies?  What if you had the chance, as a small business owner, to work directly with one of these successful businessmen or women who are sitting on top of a global company? You may not have that opportunity, but you can reap the same benefits by taking the time to study their business plans, their mistakes, and their successes. Study any information that you can get your hands on pertaining to that company.

To recreate the success that you see in some of these other businesses, you have to study them and strive to be like them.  Use them!  Research the history of a successful business that is similar to your own. This is a cost-effective way to save time and money when developing your own business plan. This is sometimes referred to as best practice benchmarking.

Specifically, what kinds of ideas and practices are you looking for in your research?

The answer can vary, however, the most popular ideas that small businesses take away from larger more successful ones are as follows:

  • How to cut business expenses
  • Ideas about product development
  • Effective management of employees
  • Time management

One of the most important things to remember when you are doing this research is that you want a business that is uniquely yours. Therefore, you will want to borrow the best practices of successful businesses, but at the same time you’ll want to make them conducive to your own company.

You’ve had lots of good ideas in the last year. Maybe they relate to your work; maybe they’re entrepreneurial plans for your own business. No matter, because none of those ideas was ever put into action.

You had your reasons at the time. Did you decide to wait until you had a bigger savings account? Until the children were in school? Until you could take some vacation time?

Do you even remember what those ideas were? Probably not, because if you don’t act on an idea, you’ll forget about it. One reason for delay begets another and the days stretch into weeks and months.

As a result, you might still be at your low-income level, still less happy than you could be. Next time you get a brainstorm, slip a harness on that whirlwind and put it to work for you. Start at once. Put your idea on paper, list the steps you need to take, and take step one. Step two will be easier. And a year from now, you’ll have more income and be happier.

In October 2006, my wife Natasha was diagnosed with cancer — Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Within two days she was in surgery, and within a week she started chemotherapy.

Although it didn’t feel like it at the time, we were very blessed because we owned our own business and had gotten to the point where the business would run without us if it had to.

Well, now it had to.

Natasha was basically down for seven months, laying in bed most of the time in severe, horrible pain. It was my job now to comfort her and take care of our three small boys — Tyler 8, Ryan 7, and Hayden 4.

I had to take the kids to school, pick them up from school, take them to their sports, take them to play dates – you get the picture. At the same time I had to take my wife to chemo, to the doctors, do all the grocery shopping, pay all the bills for the house and the company, make sure the company was still running, etc.

Most of the moms reading this are saying, “This is what I do every day. What’s he complaining about?”

And they’re right. But I’m a guy, and I just wasn’t used to doing all this. Plus the stress of not knowing whether my wife was going to live or die added to my overwhelm.

And all through this I kept thinking to myself, “What if I had to go to a full-time job? It would be impossible to do all this.” We both have no family in the area — we would have been screwed.

But, you know what? I did not have to go to work every day, and I was able to focus on my family during a very trying time.

I vowed that if we got through this nightmare I would share my story, and share how we created a very successful business, and share how we created multiple streams of income so that if this happened to anyone else, they might have the same chance we had to get through it.

Thus was born Craig Duswalt’s RockStar System For Success.

We’re all getting up in age where, eventually, we’ll need time to take care of family matters. If you have a successful business where you can make money while you’re away, trust me, you will have a better chance at a full recovery.

The best marksman needs to see what he’s aiming at. If you reach for the top without a clear picture of what the top looks like you’ll just flail wildly, like a drowning swimmer.

How will you dress, talk, walk when you have achieved great results? What will your day be like? What will your friends be like?

In his book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill writes, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” If you conceive and believe only in some misty notion you’ll get some pretty befogged results. The more clearly and completely you can visualize yourself as you intend to be, the better.

Having marketing vision is essential when starting a new business. But vision without a specific action plan is a ship without a rudder.

Developing a marketing plan that includes specific goals, vehicles and budgets offers significant advantages. Planning six to twelve months ahead gives you a broader, long-term perspective of your marketing needs and expenditures, and allows you to take advantage of volume discounts on advertising space, services and printing. When you can commit to a schedule in advance, you may also be able to negotiate longer payment terms.

But most importantly, a detailed Marketing Plan will help you stay focused on your brand goals, and avoid purchases that aren’t in your company’s best interest.

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp. Or what’s a heaven for?”

Robert Browning had it right. We usually fall a little short of perfection in what we try to do. But reaching for the top is vital.

After all, if you aimed to have a million dollars in the bank and fell short with only nine hundred thousand, you would still be pleased. But if all you hope for is enough to pay the bills, and then you fall short — that’s disaster.

No one sets out to be the worst salesperson in the company or the last person to complete their part of a project. But some people seem satisfied to be average. If you set the highest standards for yourself you may fall a little short. But you will still be great at whatever you do.

Remember:

Outstanding Standards = Great Results
Great Standards = Average Results
Average Standards = Poor Results

Do you know who Tracii Guns is? How about Ole Beich? Or Rob Gardner? Probably not. They were the original lead guitarist, bassist, and drummer for Guns N’ Roses. But they left long before the band exploded into international success. They each continued playing music, but none of them came close to matching the success of GNR.

Do you know anyone like Guns, Beich, and Gardner? Someone who gets close to a great situation, then sabotages their own success with destructive behavior or bad decisions? Psychologists say that people like this do what they do for two main reasons. Either they feel they don’t deserve success because of their past, or they are afraid of success in the future.

RockStars don’t let either get in the way of being successful.

Most of us have things in our past that we’d rather forget. We may carry guilt over the things we’ve done, or didn’t do. If you’re holding yourself back because of this, there’s only one piece of advice I can give you — if it’s in the past, leave it there! You can’t change the past, but you can build a successful future.

And, let’s face it. The future can be scary. But when you re-invent yourself and become a RockStar, you are facing the future head-on. When you achieve the success you desire, it will be because you worked smart, worked outside your comfort zone, and stretched yourself in amazing ways.

Becoming a RockStar means you earn every bit of the success that comes to you. So look forward to it, and savor it when it happens!

If you already had the income you want you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog. So, let’s assume the things you’ve been doing haven’t worked to bring you the wealth you desire. Clearly, you need to make some changes in the way you’ve been doing things.

You can spend a great deal of money both in getting advice for change and in actually making changes. But you don’t need to go that route. Making the changes I suggest in these articles won’t cost much—and most won’t cost you a cent.

Commit yourself now to making whatever changes you need to make, and don’t just read the articles—put them into action.