Going Off

The Start-Up Budget

While having a creative imagination is crucial in the offline promotion category, you also need to have a mind for budgets. Not only do you have to meet your clients' objectives, but you also have to do it cost-efficiently. Few burgeoning start-ups have the cash to spend on huge advertising campaigns, so they expect the most bang for their buck. Meet their expectations, say experts, and you can bring in six figures or more, depending on how many clients you have.

Still, you don't have to have a huge budget to get into offline promotion; many entrepreneurs say they started with very little and worked from home. But their previous jobs with other high-tech public relations firms got them the contacts to attract clients, and soon they found themselves hiring more employees to help with the ever-growing workload.

Consider, for instance, Cynthia Storer, who, with her expertise from her previous PR job, opened the doors of CS&A Public Relations in Denver. Within 10 days, says Storer, 30, she had exceeded her financial goal for the following six months. "I have people calling me at all hours. I can't even go to the post office [now] without having somebody stop me and ask for a pitch," says Storer, who started with just $7,000 and now earns more than $15,000 a month with the help of one full-time and two part-time employees.

But when it comes to getting clients, image is everything. Storer took the little money she had and rented a luxurious suite in the heart of Denver's business Mecca, acquired her own domain name and built a Web site (www.csapublicrelations.com). "It establishes a lot of credibility," she says.

Looks will only take you so far, however. Once you have the clients, it's up to you to keep them, and that's where skills come in. Peter Kent, author of several books about the Internet, including Poor Richard's Web Site: Geek-Free, Commonsense Advice on Building a Low-Cost Web Site (Top Floor Publishing, $25.46, 877-693-4676), says the best way to get the word out about a Web site is through guerrilla tactics. But Kent warns not to underestimate the power of online promotions, through newsletters or affiliate programs with similar Web sites.

For offline promotion firms, then, that means using both offline and online methods in your business. "If you're promoting a Web site," advises Kent, "you can't ignore online public relations."

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This article was originally published in the October 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Going Off.

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