Bright Marketing Ideas Can Beat Big Branding Budgets

Let’s face it: Brands working with big budgets have a leg up on those with tighter ones. But that doesn’t mean the little guy (or gal) can’t make a lasting impression.

For one company, that meant turning its annual presentation to the industry’s top vendor on its head. While competing marketing teams trotted out nondescript PowerPoints to talk about their products, this company went off the beaten path and produced a skit where actors played out the drama of the human skin cell lifecycle. It provided relief from the interminable presentations, and delighted attendees, who were left with an indelible memory of the brand.

That’s the kind of move brands with low runways must make to compete. For those companies, every marketing opportunity counts — so bright ideas and virtuosity need to converge to delight and impact audiences.

Finance matters less than finesse. We have all heard the phrase “less is more” probably more times than we would like. But in the case of marketing budgets, there is something to it.



My company recently hosted a panel with brands that have made mission-driven investments in corporate social responsibility. Not only did the discussion provide insight into the intentions and goals of their initiatives, but it also highlighted the causes themselves. A win-win that built positive awareness at a low cost.

The takeaway? A marketing strategy needs to be tailored, finessed, and intelligent to be unique.

Market with purpose — even without money. Details, consistency, and creativity across channels illustrate a company’s pride and focus. Here’s how to incorporate all of those elements into an innovative yet cost-effective marketing campaign:

-- Put a marketing budget together. Even a small company needs to allocate resources toward its marketing budget. The U.S. Small Business Association recommends  companies spend 7% to 8% of revenue on marketing.

But that allocation comes with a few questions. How much time and effort is spent on content? Once creative is ready, should it be online or offline? Wherever your marketing campaigns land, invest enough to ensure your brand shows up.

-- Get experimental on social media. Social media is a wonderful place to innovate and get creative. On social platforms, you can take a chance with color, scale, or language to test reaction and interest — and it doesn’t have to cost much.

Envision how your brand can showcase your product or service in a unique and meaningful way. Even if you do not get the response you want, iterate and try again.

-- Be personable and empathetic. Using empathy helps all of us function in healthier ways. Thoughtfulness and personability are highly valued by consumers but don’t have to cost much.

In a world of online interactions, junk mail, and phone calls, go below the surface. A handwritten note or small gift helps credibility and budget go a long way.

Innovation is possible even with limited marketing spend. Understand your company’s strengths, encourage creativity, and execute with excellence.

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