What to do with $1,000 Now

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What to do with $1,000 Now

You’ve got $1,000 set aside, but deciding what to do with it is a big deal. You don’t want to waste it (and we’ve got a podcast on stop wasting money on marketing). In the marketing world, however, in some ways $1,000 is enough money, and in other ways, it’s hardly any – depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. $1,000 is important though, because it’s an achievable number for anyone. Also, we listen to a lot of business and marketing talks and in them they often talk about these things they do that cost, $5,000, $10,000, etc. and as a small business owner it’s great to listen to that and be encouraged, however, those numbers aren’t realistic (and that can happen at every size business).

There are probably two groups of people reading this post. For the first group $1,000 is a lot of money, and they’ll save up over time. There are also people who are already spending money every month on marketing. If you’re a mid-sized company or you’ve been in business for a while, you’re already doing regular investments in your marketing. Perhaps for these people, this is a $1,000 you set aside from your regular budget and you devote it to some of the things we’re going to talk about today.

Do you have $1,000 right now? Can you budget out $200 a month so you have $1,000 in a few months? Think about that, plan out how you’re going to get your $1,000 budget, and take notes from some of the things we’re going to talk about and make a plan on how you’re going to take action.

What can we do with $1,000? 

Trade Shows

The vast majority of our customers do business in their local area – within a 20 mile radius. Therefore the first thing we would suggest you do with the $1,000 is take a look at what’s happening in your area and see if maybe there’s a trade show you can attend. As an example if your niche market is dog shirts, horse shirts, charities, martial arts, dance, cheer, etc. perhaps there’s an event in your area that costs under $1,000 for you to set up a table and participate in. Why this is a good choice is because that’s an easy thing to find out whether it’s worth repeating. It’s easily measurable.

If there’s a small business expo in Tampa and I go with my best samples – spending the $1,000 on the table, brochures, gas to get there, things to hand out, things to display my product on. At the end of the show I can go through and take a look at how many customers did I get, and how much are their orders (or anticipated orders). You can then do the math and see, if you did these shows once, twice, three times a year, approximately how profitable they would be.

You want to pick the shows that everyone there is a potential customer for you. Example – a local quilting show, and you don’t sell stuff to quilt. This is also an opportunity where if you don’t yet have an niche, you can establish one. Pick something to try out, pick 5 things you like. Perhaps you’ve always been interested in boating, or your niece is in cheer. Then find out how many people typically attend these trade shows – small trade shows might not be worth it. Find out how much it costs to get a table. Once trade show might cost $1,000 for a table, but has 10,000 people come through. Another might only be $400/table, but only have 3,000. Then consider what the trade show is for – because some niche markets might have more disposable income, or desire for custom apparel, and so they’re more likely to buy from you. The more expensive the hobby, the more higher-end product you can sell.

This is not going to be for everyone, because perhaps you’re not comfortable working a crowd. You can’t go to a trade show and just sit behind the table reading a book. You have to be a little outgoing, you have to be willing to talk to people, tell them who you are, and your business. If you’re already passionate about something, it will make it easier. Also, go prepared with a few things you want to say. You can repeat the same conversation every time.

Create Active Word of Mouth

This one is also based on the fact that most of our customers make most of their money locally. Print out a bunch of business cards, create some samples, and drive or walk around to all the businesses in your area. All you need is a flyer or business card, a sample, and a smile. You’ve got $1,000 so ask yourself, what are some samples I can make? Then spend some time making a really good sample – whether it’s your logo or a really great piece of artwork. Show the potential of what you can do.

When you hand it to someone, you want them to say “wow”. They can feel it’s a really good quality. Then you can do your pitch. “Hi, my name is Mark. I run an embroidery/custom apparel business down the street. And I wanted to come by and introduce myself, show you want we do, and find out if you have anything coming up that we can help you with.”

Find a place where you can get some reasonable priced business cards, flyers, or brochures. Shop around a bit too, don’t just select a company that does it a lot, because, unfortunately, you can get ripped off. There’s a ton of places online or local shops. If you create flyers, don’t create it in Microsoft Word. There are a lot of online templates and services you can use that will provide you with a professional look.

You need to show a sample of your work, and they need to know your name and phone number, and where you are. These are the most important. We also recommend leaving more than one card. The reason being that if you leave 3 cards, you can say to them “You probably know two other people that might be looking for custom apparel, would you mind passing along my card?” Your business card also gives you an opportunity to have something on the back of the card – perhaps a “$10 off your first order”, or something to that effect so they have to keep your card.

When you’re doing this one, don’t forget to calculate your gas into the $1,000 budget, as well as your time.

To calculate the return on investment for this one, you’ll want to find out when they order how they heard about you. If they’re ordering online through your website, then a specific coupon code will help – that you had on the business card or flyer. Quantify where the business came from so you know whether it’s worth repeating.

Local Ads

You can do local print ads. You may have a local newsletter that just goes out to your community. It may only be a few thousand people, but there isn’t going to be a ton of other ads cluttering up the newsletter (versus a newspaper), so chances are it’s going to be seen. And if your address is very close to that community you’re more likely to gain their business.

On the same tone, if you have a relationship with a local school, church group, or other hobby/sports club, find out if they have a newsletter that goes out that you can advertise in. It gives you leverage because you’re part of this community. Schools and church groups can often be inexpensive because they’re just trying to cover the cost of the publication itself.

These ones are going to be really important to track. Again, create a coupon code or simply inquire with new customers how they heard about you.


If there’s a niche market you want to get into, spend time making samples specific to that market. Whether it’s a specific school, university, or large company, send the right person a hat, shirt, or other sample with their logo and colors. It needs to be specific to their organization. Think about how you can create that wow factor – perhaps you work with rhinestones, chances are they’ve never seen their logo in rhinestones before.

While every small business may not be worth the time and investment to make specific samples for them, these bigger business will be. All prospects are worth a different amount of effort. If you’re going to big clients, think about who the biggest employers in your area are – hospital, factory, etc. If you do a great sample for them, you have a higher potential of getting a piece of their business.

In this example, let’s say you spend $50 per sample (which is realistically quite high), that’s still 20 top-end prospects that you might be able to get. And one of those, should make you more than $1,000.

Open House

Throw a little local party/open house. If you have a store front location or a shop (not home-based) and it looks presentable, you can invite people in and have a grand opening. Create some flyers and invite other local business owners to come by, network, and take a look at your shop. Invite people who have customers of their own, who can refer business to you.

It doesn’t just have to be a grand opening. Perhaps you got a new machine, that’s going to allow you to expand your services. Once you’ve had some time to learn how to use it, have that open house, and take that opportunity to showcase what you can do. People will be interested in seeing what you do, how your machine’s work.

This kind of event is part networking, part relationship building, part selling, part rapport building. With both existing and potential customers. It gives you the opportunity as well to give out some samples and business cards, and to ask for referrals. At an open house we also recommend having a few items that people can buy on the spot.

And don’t forget to make sure you have snacks and refreshments.

Online Advertising

Pay-per-click advertising on a local basis. You can create ads for Facebook, that advertise your open house, or a trade show you’re attending, or some other event. You can take photos of a project you’ve just finished and turn it into an ad. When you create the ad, you can set the parameters to be very local, so it’s just showing the ads to the people who have the potential to be the most interested in what you do.

You can also advertise a ton of other things locally, such as coupons – either on Facebook or Google. There are plenty of creative ways to test out how your ads are doing. We saw one recently on Waze, which has a whole local advertising platform. This can be really good for you as a t-shirt shop, because people are in, or about to get in their car, and then it’ll show them a local t-shirt shop nearby.

We’re saying hyper-local because $1,000 worth of national, or even regional ads are not going to do anything for you. It’s not a significant enough budget, and you would need to do it long term in order to get any return. Doing Facebook, Yelp, Google, those things for $1,000 are very worthwhile. Facebook can target by interest groups – i.e. people in Tampa Bay area who are interested in Martial Arts; people in north Tampa who are interested in dog shows.

Because you’re doing hyper-local, you can test out a few options all within your $1,000 budget. You can spend the first $400 on testing out your ads and then spend the last $600 on promoting the ads that worked the best, or editing the ads to get them to perform better. So you can become the top result if someone is looking for “t-shirt shop Tampa”. You may be surprised at how little you need to spend and how great the results can be.

The analytics and tracking of your ads are already built in, so it’s easy to evaluate their success.

Before you hop into doing to advertising, we recommend investing a little into some education on best practices. It will really help set you up for success.

Once you’ve got your $1,000 plan, plan to do it 4 times this year, or whatever you think you can reasonably budget out. Because some of these things you need to do more than once to make them work. As an example, perhaps you’re driving around, and you go out every other month, it may not be until the 6th time that you call up a business that they place an order with you.

Focus some time and money on making money. Too often businesses are focused on trying to save money, and not on ways to make more money. 

Have a good business.

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