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Call In the Pros

Need marketing help from the experts? Choose the best firm for your budget.

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This story appears in the December 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Americans love choices. From vitamins to vacations, we have a multitude of options to fit virtually any budget or need. When it comes to marketing our businesses, a variety of help abounds, from large, full-service marketing communications companies to "virtual" agencies where the principals call in specialized freelance talent as needed. If you choose carefully, you can also find highly expert media placement services or qualified design teams that do a lot more than create logos and brochures. So no matter your company's size or budget, you can always call in the pros without spending an arm and a leg.

Stretch Dollars

When it comes to marketing budgets, size is relative. In a small town, a local advertising budget of $50,000 will get you the services of a first-rate small agency, while that same budget may mean you'll have to coordinate your campaign yourself if you're in a larger market. You can reduce your costs significantly (and consequently have more funds for ad placement) by working with a qualified creative design firm or a team of art director and copywriter to produce a family of ads, then hire a media buying firm to plan and place your campaign. Media buying services are compensated directly by the media in the form of a 15 percent commission, though you may be asked to pay a minimum fee to cover planning time. Then you'll know that experienced buyers are negotiating with the media on your behalf and mapping out a campaign with sufficient reach and frequency to ensure your message penetrates the target audience.

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