PR and Marketing

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Bootstrap businesses will need PR and Marketing at some point. How do you know when to start marketing, average cost ranges, and what's the advice from fellow Bootstrappers?

General Advice

1. Identify where you are in your company's cycle. As a startup, you should focus on selling your product and getting customer input. To save money, barter for services or do them yourself as best you can. You wouldn't want to spend too much in this area before you really develop your customer base.

2. Ask for referrals from Bootstrappers or successful firms in your industry. Make sure the professionals that you hire understand and work in your industry. You don't want to be their ginnea pig or teach them about your business when they should be the experts.

3. ALWAYS get it in writing. Don't just sign the contract provided by the firm. Make sure goals, timelines, objectives, and deliverables are provided. Don't pay up front. Instead, try to bargain to pay at pre-agreed intervals that are based on percentage of completion.

4. Again, your branding and expenditures in these areas will depend on how many employees and income you have. If you have a single employee and are in the Valley of Death, you should spend as little as possible without hurting your image. If your company is in a growth phase, it may be time to expand your image/brand, so the investment could be worth it.

Website Design and Programming

1. Prices range from $50/hour on the average end to $75-$95/hour for high-end programming and graphics (Java, Flash, backend tool). Expect around $75/hour for a good firm.

2. Sites can range from $1000 on the low end to $250k++ depending on how advanced the interface is. Expect to spend $2500-3k for a decent, good-looking website that doesn't include heavy programming.

1. Expect at least $500 for a US-made logo. A good price for full branding would be $3k-5k. Some overseas companies that charge a flat fee of $150-500. All of these options produce various degrees of success.

2 A traditional branding company will often charge $5-10k for a total marketing collateral package. This will include logos, stationary, a brand image, design fees, and brochures. Corporate IDs usually range from $5-25k unless you are a mid-cap company or Fortune 500 firm, in which case it would be more expensive.

PR and Marketing

1. The average range is $50-$200/hour. Smaller or newer PR firms will charge less. The more high-end or successful the firm, the more they cost. $75/hour would be a good deal. Average cost is $100-125/hr for a good firm.

2. Event marketing and PR is often 15-25% of the total budget. If the event budget is a $100K, the firm may spend upwards of $15k in consulting services fees, if not more.

3. Monthly retainers are common, but not required. They're often $2k on the low end to 10k+ on the highend. Ask if the retainer fee includes all costs, such as writing and placement. Retainers below $2k/mo should be suspect.

4. A yearly cost may be $10-15k for a startup and $25-30k for the first phase of growth, perhaps when you are hiring employees and trying to keep up with business.

5. You can hire a freelance PR person, but they won't have as much focus on your business. Press releases are about $500 each, which should include creation of the release and sending to the appropriate sources. has a list of providers who can do all of these functions, but let's try to support our fellow Bootstrappers!