September 17, 2008
Breathe Fire into Business Minus Dragons
By Neil Wellman
VIEWERS of Dragons' Den will realise that funding a product launch is a common problem for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Commercial dragons (the British Private Equity& Venture Capital Association lists 400 of them) provide cash and expertise in return for a share of the firm.
Alternative, non-equity, options include bank loans and Finance Wales' Business Expansion grants.
However, manySMEs prefer to self-fund low-cost promotional methods to launch their products.
It must be stressed that methods that B2B organisations like Enica could use should form part of a co-ordinated campaign rather than be used in isolation.
A free, but time-consuming and unreliable, method is to seek editorial coverage in business publications such as Management Today or the specialist estate managers' Qube Magazine.
Alternatively, paid advertorials guarantee coverage but lack the credibility of genuine editorial.
Either way, being relevant and interesting to the audience is essential; for example, case studies could illustrate the businesses and environmental benefits of Enica's services.
Advertising itself can be surprisingly cheap. For instance, Qube (7,000+ distribution) offers both electronic and print advertising, with e-banners at pounds 36 and pounds 330 for a quarter page, as well as directory listings and flyer inserts.
In contrast, mainstream publications such as Management Today (99,000+ distribution) start at pounds 6,700 per half page.
Direct mail can also be cost effective with list-brokers such as DBS offering 160,000+ estates manager addresses for pounds 135 per 1,000 for single and pounds 260 per 1,000 for multiple mailings.
With printing, enclosing and postage added, cost of 40-80p per item is realistic although using staff or outworkers to build a database and assemble the mailing allows savings to be made.E-mail and mobile direct media are even cheaper but perhaps not appropriate to B2B markets. A website is a must; however, the challenge is getting customers to it. Search Engine Optimisation helps by ensuring that the site's design and content is good. Paid methods include keyword search links (Google quotes 4p to pounds 1.99 per click-through for keywords) and links with affiliate organisations.
The Internet Advisory Bureau website offers guidance on these and other online techniques.
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