Advice on how to spend my 2k

by ech01
17 replies
Hello Warriors!

I am new to the forum and also a new business owner. I started an online business last year and growth has been slow. As a startup, I don't have a ton of cash on hand and for the rest of 2016 my marketing budget is about $2,500. I'd like some advice on how to invest that in the best possible manner (no solicitations please). I will break down what we sell and what we have done thus far.

About Us
We are Make Great Light, and we sell fluorescent light filters that totally transform lighting. It removes the harsh glare and converts fluorescent light into more natural light (close to sunlight). And they remove UV radiation that can damage or fade materials, or cause photo-sensitivity issues with people.

We primarily market to 3 audiences:
  • Office workers - Our product removes glare that can cause headache, eyestrain and afternoon fatigue.
  • Schools - For the same reasons above, but also because natural light has shown to improve testing scores and help keep kids focused.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder - The full spectrum light our product produces is used to help with SAD symptoms. The light tricks the brain to think it has been outside all day, thus regulating melatonin/serotonin
  • UV sensitive people - (Lupus, Fibromyalgia)

We are an entirely online business, no store front and do not sell on Amazon (for many reasons). The main site is in WordPress, the shopping cart part is in Shopify.

What we have done thus far
Last year our focus was building our brand and SEO up. I have some professional experience with SEO and some digital marketing, so this was the first place we invested in. We rank pretty good for our target terms and our time on site is pretty high. I have continued to work on content marketing this year and will probably keep investing in this area.

Our social presence has been pretty much limited to twitter, Facebook, and very little instagram.

I have been running highly targeted FB ads (A/B testing), with mixed results. FB ads have about a .30-.40 CPC and a CTR average of about 1.8%

I have done some PPC ads on Google and Bing, but I feel like that is a money suck.

Last year, I spent about $4k on a PR firm to compile a list of influencers and pitch them on writing an article or review. It was a very low payoff for the money, though they claimed that 2 blog posts and an article in a quarterly health and safety print publication was a good return. Media in general has been very cold, as I can't even get local publications to return emails.

I have also sponsored the local lupus foundation at some events (even participating in their 5k run) and also dontated products to a couple of classrooms.

Where do I go from here?
Currently, we are turning a small profit and have a positive cash flow. The growth has been very slow though and I would really like to make a decent sized jump in the next 12 months. I'm not looking to get rich quick, but I would like to make this a full time job at some point.

I have $2000 to invest in "something" and another $500 earmarked for site improvements and content. I was really considering going with the Digital Marketer's email automation program, but I currently do not have much of a list for email marketing (just current customers). The bottom line is that 2k needs to to net me 6k+ in sales.

I would appreciate any advice! Also, to all Warrior friends, there is a 15% discount if you want to upgrade the lighting in your office.
#advice #spend
  • Profile picture of the author Lucian Lada
    Well, this might seem obvious, but it is the only thing I can recommend: find ways to contact and have a talk with decision makers within the groups you're targeting. I think LinkedIn could be good place to find head teachers and company CEO's. I don't think they read health and safety publications, thought I may be wrong.

    Also, talk to therapists or contact such associations and see if they can endorse your products to people with SAD.

    As for how exactly to do that, we'll, I'm no expert, but I think calling them and having a talk could be a good way to start. It's how I'd do it, anyway. And yes, keep your money in your pocket - you'll most likely going to get flooded with p.m.'s from service providers.
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  • Profile picture of the author ech01
    Thanks. LinkedIn marketing was something I have considered. Pricey compared to FB ad spending.

    One of my challenges is that I market to the end user, but they are often times not the purchaser. An office worker would work through HR or their boss. A teacher through the red tape of school purchasing.
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    • Profile picture of the author Lucian Lada
      Originally Posted by ech01 View Post

      One of my challenges is that I market to the end user, but they are often times not the purchaser. An office worker would work through HR or their boss. A teacher through the red tape of school purchasing.

      That is what I tried to convey: market directly to the decision marker, not necessarily the person who benefits from your products.

      Talking to teachers can help, but talking to the head teacher or school principal or whatever he's called would be much more productive, I think. And have you considered private schools? I assume they would have less red tape to jump over and bigger budgets.

      Also, when talking to business owners or CEO's, try to sell them the idea that your product will improve their workforce's productivity.
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    I can't tell you how to spend your money, but I can tell you that now that you have posted on an open, public forum that you have a bunch of cash to spend, you will get a ton of dodgy pms advising you how to spend that money. I recommend that you delete them all.
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    • Profile picture of the author loedown
      Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

      I can't tell you how to spend your money, but I can tell you that now that you have posted on an open, public forum that you have a bunch of cash to spend, you will get a ton of dodgy pms advising you how to spend that money. I recommend that you delete them all.
      This.

      My advice is to spend the money on educating yourself. That is the best dime you will ever spend.
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      • Profile picture of the author ech01
        Originally Posted by loedown View Post

        This.

        My advice is to spend the money on educating yourself. That is the best dime you will ever spend.
        Good advice, and I do educate myself (taking courses online, reading blogs etc). This money specifically for marketing initiatives.
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        • Profile picture of the author rritz
          I think you locate the problem - you target end user, but you have to target desicion makers and buyers.

          You are showing a lot of benefits to your end users but no benefits for the buyers. I should put emphasis on that more. Concentrate on the benefits business owners will see if they buy your product for their office workers.

          As for schools it may be more to the point to target parents, because they will appreciate the benefits more than teachers or school heads and could put pressure on the school.
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          • Profile picture of the author ech01
            Originally Posted by rritz View Post

            You are showing a lot of benefits to your end users but no benefits for the buyers. I should put emphasis on that more. Concentrate on the benefits business owners will see if they buy your product for their office workers.
            Thank you for you're input and you make good points.

            I've always thought it to be easier to market to the end user, since they are the advocate for change. I feel like business owners wouldn't just do it out of the goodness of their heart. So I market to the people with the symptoms.

            Focus aside, what I'm looking for in this thread is a way to get maximum return on what I can spend. Whether it's investing in driving traffic, starting an email campaign, LinkedIn marketing, PR etc etc etc.
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  • Profile picture of the author ech01
    Yeah, I won't accept any solicitations.
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  • Profile picture of the author vic1
    I did no research on your niche, just glanced at your site etc. but I don't understand not using the largest marketplace in the world?
    None of my business but if I were in your shoes, the first thing I would do; get on Amazon and eBay ASAP.

    Second thing I would do is contact every relevant catalog I can find and start a communication with them finding out how to get your products listed. Sending samples would be a good investment for some of your dough.

    Third thing I would do is put my boots on the ground and start talking, pitching and collecting email addresses at local businesses. I promise within 10 days you will learn something that will help your online business. Spend a few bucks and get some kind of advertising specialty you can pass out.

    Use this time to ask why or why not. Just come right out and ask: I must be doing something wrong because you haven't purchased, what am I doing wrong? Is it the price? Is it the name? Did I make it clear the lights here are ruining your eyes?

    Fourth thing (or maybe the first thing I should do) I would do is start a mailing list. Get a drop down/exit box to start collecting emails on your site offering either some kind of save your eyes report or a coupon or something else in exchange for the email address.

    Fifth thing I would do is write a 6 part email message so its all set up ready to go when you start collecting addresses. You want to talk about pain, and hurt and danger than how much better you'll be when you start using my product.

    Start your list with all your contacts you have now; both personal and business. Send an email and tell them what you're doing and to spread the word to anyone they know. Don't be afraid to do this, works like a charm to get you going.

    I would also suggest having a separate list for each industry.

    Okay, I'm out of breath, good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author spazz896
    hrmmmm, This is a tough one..

    I would try targeting people who run office wellness programs for businesses.
    As it's hard targeting office managers/CEO (it's hard to get through the gatekeepers)

    With Focus content marketing about Office Culture/Wellness Workshops, etc,
    Content - Guest posts/Info Graphics. Also check out local trade shows in the area.
    (i.e. 10 Tips to improve your employees productivity.) And Push it with FB ads, which is probably pretty similar to what you are doing now.

    Another Note, maybe add filters for PC monitors to expand your product line? To cut out Blue light/reduce eye strain. That is something else I have considered to purchasing for myself.

    I hope I helped a little bit..

    Thanks
    Brad.

    P.S. # Website Issue, You have a broken code on your website, causing warnings for you SSL cert. I just recently added SSL to one of my sites, and I know how much of pain in the butt it can be.
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    • Profile picture of the author ech01
      Originally Posted by spazz896 View Post

      hrmmmm, This is a tough one..

      I would try targeting people who run office wellness programs for businesses.
      As it's hard targeting office managers/CEO (it's hard to get through the gatekeepers)
      Thanks I have been targeting health office wellness coordinators. Very competitive segment.

      Thanks for the note on the ssl too.
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  • Profile picture of the author Regional Warrior
    you would be better off putting a support ticket and getting this thread moved to the offline sub forum is my reason is you will get the right answers form the experts
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  • Profile picture of the author Eagle07
    Originally Posted by ech01 View Post

    Hello Warriors!

    I am new to the forum and also a new business owner. I started an online business last year and growth has been slow. As a startup, I don't have a ton of cash on hand and for the rest of 2016 my marketing budget is about $2,500. I'd like some advice on how to invest that in the best possible manner (no solicitations please). I will break down what we sell and what we have done thus far.

    About Us
    We are Make Great Light, and we sell fluorescent light filters that totally transform lighting. It removes the harsh glare and converts fluorescent light into more natural light (close to sunlight). And they remove UV radiation that can damage or fade materials, or cause photo-sensitivity issues with people.

    We primarily market to 3 audiences:
    • Office workers - Our product removes glare that can cause headache, eyestrain and afternoon fatigue.
    • Schools - For the same reasons above, but also because natural light has shown to improve testing scores and help keep kids focused.
    • Seasonal Affective Disorder - The full spectrum light our product produces is used to help with SAD symptoms. The light tricks the brain to think it has been outside all day, thus regulating melatonin/serotonin
    • UV sensitive people - (Lupus, Fibromyalgia)

    We are an entirely online business, no store front and do not sell on Amazon (for many reasons). The main site is in WordPress, the shopping cart part is in Shopify.

    What we have done thus far
    Last year our focus was building our brand and SEO up. I have some professional experience with SEO and some digital marketing, so this was the first place we invested in. We rank pretty good for our target terms and our time on site is pretty high. I have continued to work on content marketing this year and will probably keep investing in this area.

    Our social presence has been pretty much limited to twitter, Facebook, and very little instagram.

    I have been running highly targeted FB ads (A/B testing), with mixed results. FB ads have about a .30-.40 CPC and a CTR average of about 1.8%

    I have done some PPC ads on Google and Bing, but I feel like that is a money suck.

    Last year, I spent about $4k on a PR firm to compile a list of influencers and pitch them on writing an article or review. It was a very low payoff for the money, though they claimed that 2 blog posts and an article in a quarterly health and safety print publication was a good return. Media in general has been very cold, as I can't even get local publications to return emails.

    I have also sponsored the local lupus foundation at some events (even participating in their 5k run) and also dontated products to a couple of classrooms.

    Where do I go from here?
    Currently, we are turning a small profit and have a positive cash flow. The growth has been very slow though and I would really like to make a decent sized jump in the next 12 months. I'm not looking to get rich quick, but I would like to make this a full time job at some point.

    I have $2000 to invest in "something" and another $500 earmarked for site improvements and content. I was really considering going with the Digital Marketer's email automation program, but I currently do not have much of a list for email marketing (just current customers). The bottom line is that 2k needs to to net me 6k+ in sales.

    I would appreciate any advice! Also, to all Warrior friends, there is a 15% discount if you want to upgrade the lighting in your office.
    Videos about your product can make a lot of sales!
    You can a create an informative video about the advantages of your product and make it shared on Youtube and your social networks.

    Aside from that, you may want to target home owners, home builders and developers too in your ads. Try adpulsemedia.com. You can start advertising for as low as $299. Monitor your result and evaluate. If the cashflow is good... carry on and scale up
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  • Profile picture of the author gabrielrala
    you would be better to discuss and do your business with establishments that are focusing on health and wellness, like gym, yoga classrooms and restaurants are also a good place to consider
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  • Profile picture of the author desley
    Wow what an interesting thread. I agree with many of the responses. Be slow to hire and quick to fire is a saying that will go a long way in what you're wanting to achieve. By this I mean, consider every $ of the $2K or so is precious and avoid getting carried away, because you will clearly receive many offers suggesting this or that will be the best thing since sliced bread for you to purchase now you've posted on this forum.

    My 2 cents worth, investigate cost effective ways to advertise i.e. in your local newspaper, a magazine in your niche (offline advertising which might prove beneficial to getting past the gate keepers.) and get the word out there. Offer to be interviewed by your local radio station.

    One programme advertised here in WSO is PR Dominator. I'm testing this at present. For around $27 USD you gain access to write articles and/or press releases and include your website link in the article. Choose the keyword you want to rank for and use this as the title of the article and ensure you include the title in the geo location sections. You can then write as often as you like. Every article I've written and submitted in this system is currently on Page 1 Google. Some are receiving more clicks than others. As I said I'm still testing however, I'm intrigued with the results I'm currently receiving and consider it does have potential. Whilst the main link on the Google search page is the PR Dominator website, I can assure you people do search hence why I use the keyword search term as the title of the article.

    My suggestion is check this out for yourself and whether it will meet your needs. Do your due diligence first.

    Another platform that I came across is Question Spy which is also web based and this is fabulous. You can do an indepth search on a keyword to ascertain exactly what questions people are asking in your niche. More along the How To ...... search terms. Fabulous for creating How To article titles, because people are searching re these terms. Can't remember the price however nothing too expensive. Again do your due diligence first.

    Check out forums in your niche and respond to people's questions and include your website link in your signature. Yes, time consuming however, again might prove beneficial and you can keep your $$$ in your pocket for other endeavours. Or outsource this task to someone you trust and pay them to do this.

    I agree with the suggestions others have provided including incorporate an email collection system on your website. You may choose to provide a free video, free webinar or free EBook etc. in return for people giving you their email contact. Alternatively you could write a monthly newsletter on your niche and send this to your customers. Again, some time involved or alternatively you can search sites such as Freelancer etc. and outsource the monthly writing newsletter. Include a blog section or resources section on your website so people can become informed. In other words become a 'one stop shop' so to speak so people understand the products, the benefits and why this is important.

    Anyway these are my erstwhile suggestions. Whatever you decide, ensure you do your due diligence first before parting with any of your dollars. Include free and paid strategies and you might be surprised. Include offline as well as online and hey you may be pleasantly surprised. Setting up an EBay shop as already has been suggested might also prove worthwhile.

    Depends on whether you want to sell locally or globally. As the saying goes: think globally, act locally.

    Good luck with your endeavours. Hope this assists.
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