Build your brand on a budget

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No doubt there have been times where you had a good, long hard look at your business to find out where you can save costs.

While your marketing budget is often the first place the trimming begins, mounting evidence proves it’s the businesses that keep up with their marketing through the tough times that will fare the best when things start to pick up. (And notice I used the word ‘when’, not ‘if’!)

When cutting costs, it’s crucial – above all else – that you don’t compromise your brand. So, how can you conserve cash while getting your message out there?

I’m sure you’ll be relieved to know there are many different ways to build your brand on a budget.

An important building block of business success is to think laterally, or as Edward de Bono would say, “outside the square”.

This approach should apply to every aspect of your business, with marketing at the top of the list.

Why? It’s simple – this ‘out there’ thinking gives you an edge and will not only save your bottom line, but will ensure cut-through for your brand.

To show you how, let’s look at your customer follow-up process.

In the age of electronic madness, the old-fashioned hand-written ‘thank you’ note works a treat. The sterility of computer-generated envelopes (and, of course, bills) makes any hand-written communication a must-read for clients.

So you’re doing something different. Tick.

But is this ‘something different’ building your brand?

To do this, it could be as simple as using paper or ink in your brand colour. A great example of this is the practice of Clinique’s founder and former chair, the late Carol Phillips (judging by Clinique’s international standing — not to mention sales — this is one woman who knew how to build a brand!).

“Her attention to detail was legendary – she even wrote her inter-office notes in Clinique-green ink,” wrote Leonard Lauder, chair of Clinique’s parent company, The Estée Lauder Companies of Phillips.

“She brought a fresh perspective and savvy creative sense to the cosmetics industry.”

In this way, Phillips proved it’s the little things that make a big difference – and you too can make sure you’re ahead of the pack with simple innovations.

For further proof, I’ll put the spotlight on Tim Pethick, the founder of nudie fruit juice.

Pethick used what the experts call ‘tribal marketing’ to build market presence and brand. Combined with an outrageous nudie character on purple vans – yes, more lateral thinking – Pethick embarked on a massive giveaway program.

Taking his clever innovation one step further, Pethick gave out flyers with the juice calling on people to take it to their local shopkeeper to request nudie be stocked. In this way, his customers actually did a lot of nudie’s marketing (and Pethick could easily measure the result of his marketing venture).

To build your business, word-of-mouth marketing is invaluable. And this is made all the less labour intensive with the rise and rise of web 2.0 – you now have the seemingly infinite resources of social networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook at your fingertips. Getting your message out has never been easier – or cheaper!

Remember also that your marketing collateral should not only build your brand, but should extend its reach.

A great example of a business thinking outside de Bono’s square is Tim Findon of Bondi’s Busby Hair. A while back, Findon introduced Japanese translation cards to capture the attention of the tourist trade. And it proved a smart move – these camera-clicking clients have a yen for our iconic beach. You have to agree this was innovation with a capital ‘I’!

The lesson about innovation is this – it all comes down to playing to your strengths rather than losing time fretting over your weaknesses (which are, more often than not, budgetary-related).

So, what are your brand’s strengths? Kevin Roberts, CEO worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi and author of the must-read Lovemarks, encourages all brand owners (that’s you!) to get out of the office.

“Your inspirational consumers won’t come to you – and they don’t live in the office down the hall,” he writes.

It’s also important you understand what makes people tick (or, more importantly, buy!).

You can do this by another simple innovation – listening.

“Find someone who is loyal beyond all reason…” – this, says Roberts, is what you want people to be to your brand, just as he uses anti-dandruff shampoo brand Head & Shoulders even though he lost his hair long ago — “to anything; a car; a hobby; a friend. Find out what makes it work and apply it to your business.”

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