That’s a difficult question to answer, but one we’re asked all the time. And we generally respond the same way each time… “how much does it cost to build a house?” That is, do you want a mansion, a town home, or a van down by the river? Where are you building it? How fast do you want it built? Do you know anyone who can help you build it? Oh… and do you have a plan for building it?
Sure, perhaps there’s a twinge of smart ass in our answering a question with a question(s), but it’s a legitimate comparison. It’s simply too broad a question. You need to start out with the small details first so you can get to the end goal of how much.
But seriously, how much will it cost?
All right, since nobody likes a smart ass and you’re reading this blog for answers, we’ll provide some generalities. And while it’s tough to provide a guesstimate without knowing specifics, you should expect marketing your new product to cost between $100,000 to $1,500,000, spread out over one to five years.
Holy cow, right?
Go ahead, read those numbers again: one hundred thousand or one million five hundred thousand dollars. That’s quite a spread! So the natural question you’re asking is… what do I get for all that money? Ah… well, it depends on what you need.
So let’s theorize for a bit. We’ll assume you already have a finished widget – that is, your product is designed, engineered, and manufactured. And we’ll concede this isn’t a new category of product – so people know what it is; they just don’t know about your company or your new widget. So here’s what you might expect to spend your “holy cow that’s a lot of” money on during the one to five years you’re marketing your new widget.
Sure, you may not need a full-blown focus group or primary research. Even if you think you don’t need this, you’d be surprised how often what you believe your prospects think doesn’t match up with reality in the consumer’s mind. So you should at least have someone other than yourself question prospects or target consumers to see what they think about widgets. What they want from their widgets. How much they’re willing to pay for the best widget.
And at the very least, do some secondhand research on the market, competitors, and your target audience. Know your major competitors, where they sell, what their positioning is. How you’re better (or can position yourself as better), etc.
Expect to spend $5,000 to $50,000
Positioning & Strategy
If you’ve done your market research (of if you’re some type of savant) then next you’ll need to determine your positioning and overall marketing strategy. That is, how will you be differentiating your widget? Why should someone buy or use your widget over your competitor’s widget? You’ll need to write this up as a positioning document to guide all your efforts.
Then you’ll need to determine “how” you’re going to gain market share. Are you a lower-priced competitor? Are you a niche market? Will you steal share from the market leader – or try to stamp out other lesser competitors? Write this up too. It will guide your efforts.
Expect to spend $1,000 to $20,000
If you’re like most engineers or inventors you’ve been focused on your widget and not the company. That was an afterthought. Perhaps you had your kid, or cousin, or friend do a logo. Sorry, but that’s probably not going to work long-term.
First, a logo isn’t a corporate brand…it’s just a logo. It’s part of the brand experience, but corporate branding is much more. It’s derived from your positioning and strategy and spans all aspects of interaction between the consumer and your company. It’s visual branding, customer experience, and more.
But at the start, at the very least, you need to look professional and appear “much” bigger than you probably are. Sorry, but humans are susceptible to initial impressions. If your logo, brochure, or presentation looks low-end or cheap or embarrassing, chances are you’ll be perceived poorly. So make sure you look big in everything you do, even if you’re small.
Expect to spend $2,000 to $10,000
Product Branding & Packaging Design
Since you only have one widget, you may not need product branding. But a strategy should still be conceived for when you have dozens of widgets spanning all types of markets or uses. So you don’t shortchange yourself with early decisions that will need to be undone later.
Packaging design will likely be a major investment. Success in stores is heavily influenced by packaging now. Sorry to inform you, but the best widget doesn’t always win. Sometimes it’s the one with the shiniest box. So make sure you take your time and do the packaging right. So it has shelf presence. So it feels and looks appropriate for it’s price point – and it’s functional. Oh, and don’t forget you’ll also be spending on shipping packaging too.
Expect to spend $1,000 to $5,000 for product branding and $2,500 to $25,000 for packaging design
Web Design, Email Marketing, Content Marketing, Social Media, SEO, and SEM
Well, finally. Some place where you can get by with a small investment initially. Launching a website for your widget, even an e-commerce one, can be quick and easily done in today’s world. Either choose a hosted service like Weebly or go with WordPress (and WooCommerce) to get your site up and running quickly. Though plan on paying for copywriting and design (even if you’re using a template). Somebody will have to make things fit your corporate branding.
Then make sure you start and continue an email marketing program. Email still has the best ROI and keeps you in direct contact with prospects and customers.
Make sure you at least have a company blog and keep at it regularly. Even better, create unique content, such as videos, infographics, and such. Then share things on your social channels and monitor your SEO (and adjust as necessary).
Expect to spend regularly and/or heavily on online advertising. Search engine marketing (SEM) is almost a requirement today. You may also need to spend on paid social media ads too. Depending on your audience and marketing strategy, SEM may be a major expense. So do it right. Make sure you’re creating optimized ads and directing them to optimized landing pages – and monitor conversions.
Expect to spend $500 to $5000 for a simple site, and between $1,000 to $25,000 per month for content, social, seo, and sem.
Public relations isn’t what it used to be – it’s evolved into so much more. It’s returning to prominence, especially as social media veers towards paid promotion. PR is again becoming important, since getting press and editorial coverage can help your business in so many ways. At a minimum, plan on writing your own press releases, aiming for one a month or at least every two months. And don’t forget to reach out to editors, and bloggers, and other influencers.
Expect to spend $1,000 to $10,000 per month
Trade Show Support
Eventually, you’ll need to attend a trade show. It may be industry focused or consumer oriented, but regardless, it’ll generally become part of your marketing mix. Industry shows will help you find and connect with distributors and retailers much more quickly than your could do organically. And if it’s a consumer show, you can locate and connect with brand ambassadors and hopefully receive awards, accolades, and/or press coverage too.
But a show costs money. You’ll need a booth. Materials. Give-aways, banners, ads, follow-up mechanisms, etc. Plus you’ll be spending on staff, hotels, travel, and the show expenses itself. So depending on what industry your widget is in, shows may be a necessary, albeit expensive, investment.
Expect to spend $1,000 to $10,000 for a booth and approximately $10,000 to attend each show, plus extra for any show-related activities or deliverables
Ongoing Sales & Marketing Support
Most of the above will unveil and evolve over time. And marketing must continually adapt, month to month, let alone year to year. So plan on aligning with, and working closely with, your marketing firm (or hiring internally). You’ll constantly find you need more stuff. Updated sell sheets, brochures, PPTs, ads, point-of-purchase (POP) displays, etc.
So schedule regular meetings with your marketing team to ensure things keep moving forward. And make sure your marketing activities are producing results, or change them, or change tactics. We like to meet ongoing marketing clients every two weeks or at minimum once per month so we can provide progress reports, plan new activities, and coordinate any necessary adjustments.
Expect to spend $1,000 to $15,000 per month depending on activities and deliverables
Well that’s it…kind of
You may need less or more of the services and deliverables mentioned above. Or you may need or require stuff not on the list. We didn’t even touch upon supporting distribution or channel marketing or customer response management or marketing automation. The options and opportunities you’ll be faced with abound.
But just like building a house, you don’t simply grab a hammer and some lumber and start building. When you’re marketing your new product you’ll need to develop a blueprint first. Then you can determine a budget and decide what you can build and what types of things you can afford to include. But fortunately, unlike a building a house, you won’t pay for it upfront – you’ll be spending on your marketing over time, so doing it well can help fund future marketing.