While some brands plunked down $4.5 million for a 30-second spot this Superbowl Sunday, most marketers are being asked to do more with less. This can feel like an impossible task.
I once moved from a large brand with a large advertising budget to a small challenger brand with virtually no budget. At the large brand, we used to complain like the world was ending whenever we were asked to cut our budget by 5%. Our solution was to try to eke out small efficiencies to compensate for the cut.
At the small brand, our desperation from having virtually no budget forced us to think about marketing in an entirely different way. We had to think of all of the things that were not paid media (customer support, packaging design, wrapping the trucks of our logistics partners, etc.) and find a way to turn them into marketing vehicles.
It dawned on me that in some of my marketing career, I used the brand’s advertising budget as a crutch. Large advertising budgets created blind spots that prevented me from appreciating all of the things I could impact in the brand that didn’t cost any money.
The founder of Geek Squad has a wonderful quote that “advertising is a tax for unremarkable thinking”. In the early days, they couldn’t afford advertising, so they focused on everything else (the uniforms of their agents, their iconic VW bugs, etc.) to tell their marketing story. My favorite detail was the shoes. They realized they could customize the soles of the shoes their tech agents wore to have the Geek Squad logo stamped in reverse. This way, every agent that walked on a wet sidewalk would leave brand impressions everywhere they went. In aggregate, Geek Squad rationalized, that could be a lot of GRPs.
I love that Geek Squad thought of even the soles of their shoes as a marketing opportunity.
Instead of wondering what you would do with a percentage less of your current marketing budget, it’s a good exercise to ask what you would do with a zero marketing budget. Then paid media can amplify those ideas, instead of working as a crutch.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on trying to do more with less. Here’s a cartoon I drew a few years ago on this mindset.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed cartoon print. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)