Startup Diaries: Lesson One in Marketing

[Startup Diaries is a new original series of articles from Yahoo! Small Business Advisor that chronicles the day-to-day and week-to-week struggles of a variety of startup and new small businesses.]

Brad Pitts, BSHA has been in the medical field for more than 10 years, with experience in nursing as well as health administration. In 2012 he started Spartan Medical Resources, which distributes mobile medical-alert devices.

While the marketing materials that came with my distributor package are at the printer's, I decided to have some pamphlets printed in the meantime. The package came with an eight-page booklet that has to be customized with the pricing I decide to sell my product for. I have a good source to start the marketing process, so I called a local printing company to have the pamphlets printed.

My first mistake was calling instead of driving to the shop. I talked to an employee of the shop and explained what I am trying to do. The first price I was given is much more than I am willing to spend. I ask the employee what I can do to reduce the cost involved in getting my pamphlets printed. I was given another price that is more in line with what I am willing to spend. After hanging up, I emailed the pamphlet design to the shop to have the printing done.

A couple hours later the shop calls to let me know that the pamphlets I have ordered are ready for pickup. I head down to the shop to see my new pamphlets. While waiting to be helped I looked around the shop. I found a package advertised in the shop that would have made the cost of my new pamphlets about half of what I was about to pay. While I was picking up the pamphlets I spoke with the manager and explained my predicament. The manager of course apologized profusely and told me that I can ask for him personally next time, and he will make sure I am given the best deal.

The lesson learned that I am trying to convey is you can't always get the best deal by making a phone call. This business was two miles from my office. I could have cut my cost in half if I had taken the time to visit the business. In this busy world we default to convenience to do business. But convenience comes with a price. We lose the personal aspect of business; when I spoke to this employee on the phone, I was an order and not necessarily a person. If I had spent the time to go down and check out my options, I would have been better informed and chosen a printing package that fit my needs and saved me money. Bottom line: Do the legwork to be well informed in what you are doing.

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