Getting Noticed on a Shoestring Budget

For many small businesses, advertising is often the most difficult expense to fit in a budget. But getting your company’s name out there and your products seen is imperative.

According to the Small Business Administration, entrepreneurs should budget just 5% of their gross sales for advertising, which doesn’t leave much room for full-page spreads in magazines, let alone a television spot. So how do you get your company out there without breaking the bank?

One entrepreneur, Jaclyn Smith, co-owner of Anzie, a fine jewelry company based in Montreal, Canada, may have the answer.

FOX Business: How do you get your jewelry into the public eye?

Anzie: Getting visibility is one of the hardest parts of the business, and it’s taken us a while. We started the company 11 years ago and it’s only this year and last year that we started to get a lot of press. I recently learned we can only do so much, I can’t be everywhere. Honestly, I think it usually takes a professional, or a whole team of people backing you up, which we have now.

FOX Business: So once you hired a PR professional, what were the next steps?

Anzie: Our PR rep has a great network, and she was attending a music festival in Canada and met Katy Perry’s representative. From there we were able to work with her to get Katy to wear our Bouquet bracelet at the 2010 Much Music Video Awards.

FOX Business: So other than the professional public relations help, how did you get the company out there?

Anzie: Well, I try to give everyone at the company a little bit more responsibility, so even our sales reps are out making contacts in the industry and looking for new avenues through which we can get press. It really empowers people and gets them excited about their position. They aren’t afraid to go up to someone and introduce themselves and tell people that we have a great product that we’re proud of.

FOX Business: What about getting images of your jewelry in magazines or online? Is there a way to do that without taking out expensive ads?

Anzie: Well, we do things called “Gifting Events” or “Gifting Lounges,” which are suites that celebrities come through at different types of award shows like the Grammys, the Emmys, and even the Oscars. The idea is to get your products on a celebrity before they hit the red carpet. Companies that sell jewelry and accessories will set up in these lounges, and it costs somewhere between $3,000 and $15,000 to be an exhibitor.

FOX Business: So do you give these celebrities your products?

Anzie: Yes, and it really isn’t my favorite thing to do, because these guys are millionaires! But, we’ll have a photographer there, and we will dress the celebrity in our jewelry and take their picture. Each celebrity who poses with an item, we give it to them.

FOX Business: Isn’t it expensive to give away products to each celebrity who poses with an item?

Anzie: Yes, it’s not cheap, but we watch how much we are spending. While we’re at these events we also get a lot of contacts in the industry, and our presence there helps the company’s image. To be honest, we could just give the celebrities a gift certificate to spend on But it creates more buzz and goodwill if they walk away with a piece on their arm or on their finger than if they have to put a piece of paper in their purse and say, “Okay, I’ll order something next week.”

FOX Business: What advice would you have for another small business looking to increase its visibility in a similar way?

Anzie:Unless you have a huge advertising budget, it’s more helpful to spend your money on PR. You get more for your dollar that way. This year we have branched out a little and have ads in Town and Country, but we are just testing it out to see the reactions. For now, Facebook and Twitter continue to be a big part of our promotional strategy!