First Class Branding On An Economy Budget

You never get a second chance at a first impression.

That’s an essential Business 101 lesson. Everyone knows that you have to look the part, especially when you’re branding your business. You’re making sales calls and presentations and networking your heart out, and you can’t afford to look cheap. This is true even if your budget forces you from business to economy class. You have a branding strategy to meet some important business goals. The only way to meet those goals is not to seem like you’re watching your pennies. The impression you give people needs to showcase your outstanding talents, not your depleted marketing account.

Here are a few ideas for making the most out of your meager business budget.

Set Clear Priorities

Regardless of what business or industry you’re in, you have a reason behind your current marketing strategy. You likely have several goals in mind, but you might not be able to do everything you want within your limited budget.

Base Creative explains that:

“Albert Einstein said that if he had one hour to solve a problem, he’d spend 55 minutes defining the problem and 5 minutes solving it. Having a clear and agreed brief and expectations is a key to the success of the project.”

Set clear goals and identify your main priorities. If you don’t have the budget to wine and dine every prospect, choose those with whom you have the best chance of success. Doing so might mean reaching out to the others before an event or narrowing down your possibilities to just a few sales calls. But when you can’t do everything you want, you need to be extremely clear on what actions have the best chance of reaching your overall goals.

Dress for the Part

Before you panic because I’m giving wardrobe advice, let’s talk about how much the price of checked baggage has increased over the past few years. Imagine you that you follow advice on how to hack cheap airfare and choose Spirit, whose tagline is “Less Money, More Go.” Then you find out the only bag that’s free to carry on must be smaller than 16″x14″x12.” Any 51–70 lb. carry-on is $55, and a 71–100 lb. bag is $100!

The majority of airlines now charge for carry-ons, so becoming an expert in packing has become a necessity. Not only do we need to bring less with us, but we need to look the part while traveling (remember our goal to make a good first impression?).

In A Guide to Dressing for Business Travel, Matt Allinson advises travelers:

“When it comes to packing, prioritising classic and versatile pieces not only keeps your luggage as light as possible, it also enables you to pull together outfits for any on- or off-duty occasion that may arise.”

Maybe you don’t love fashion, but no one will suspect you’re traveling on a tiny budget if you dress professionally.

Don’t Try to Hack Everything

There are millions of articles on how to save money when traveling. And some of them have some decent hacks to consider. Yet, there are several ways to ‘hack’ the travel space, but when you’re trying to build a business, you have to consider your overall goals and priorities.

With a limited budget, you might choose not to stay in a convention hotel and instead opt for something a little cheaper out of town. But then you’re stuck paying for transportation to and from events. And you might not be able to take advantage of networking opportunities because you’re not sharing the same spaces for breakfast and late night drinks.

While it’s tempting to try to go cheap on absolutely everything, don’t forget you still have a job to do.

Rock Your First Impression

Travel can be stressful and frustrating. Add in both business and a tight budget, and it can be a recipe for disaster.

Yet you can meet your business goals even when you’re not flying first class. Doing so just takes some planning, not to mention the ability to be flexible and innovative. The idea is always to look polished, regardless of your budget. With the right attitude, you’ll walk into your next out-of-town meeting looking sophisticated and confident.

And no one will know you took the bus to get there.

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Liesha Petrovich
LIESHA is a freelancer by day and Kyokushin Black Belt by night. A late-blooming academic, she's happiest teaching business at UoPeople. Liesha is the author of Killing Rapunzel: Learning How to Save Yourself Through Determination, Grit, and Self-Employment (her mother hates the title - but it's a metaphor mom!). She talks business at Microbusiness Essentials and everything else at Liesha Petrovich.com
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