What is the trick to marketing on a shoestring?

Right now, for most marketers, the reality is that we're having to do a lot more with less. We’re having to work harder than ever to engage with audiences and generate leads, and all with a much smaller marketing budget than anticipated. In the current climate, reduced budgets are a reality that many organisations are facing, and it’s something we have to embrace to keep providing value for the businesses we work for.

At the recent Marketing Association Brainy Breakfast event we heard from some of the best practitioners on budget-friendly, easy-to-implement tactics to make your message stand out.

Optimise your content

First up we heard from Mark Neal Co-Founder and Marketing Director of Scapegrace Gin and Sam Stuchbury Founder and Creative Director of Motion Sickness. They showed us how on a small creative and media budget they created engagement to launch Scapegrace Black and most importantly sell out the product.

Sam Stuchbury said to focus on your strategy first and stick to it, which is what the duo did to launch this new product for Scapegrace. So how did they do it? It was down to three key factors.

  1. Produce smart content – they consciously chose to produce less content but of a higher quality. By being extremely considered and efficient in their content creation they then had enough budget to spend on media to promote the product. They also built a strong social media funnel which covered pre-launch, launch, and drove growth for their e-commerce channel.

  2. Distinctive visuals – they also knew they needed to create a visual aesthetic that would stand out in the category. They ensured the creative was optimised for each social media channel to get the most engagement possible out of the platforms they were using.

  3. Optimise media - and finally, once the creative was looking good, they focused on using social media to build hype for the product. They also warned not to set and forget. Make sure the media spend is optimised.

Know what problem you're trying to solve

After hearing from this dynamic duo, the presentation moved on to Aimee McCammon from Corner Store who talked through a few content campaigns with fast-turnaround times that didn’t break the bank. Like Sam and Mark she also said that her focus was strongly on setting what the strategy is for the content – asking “what problem are you trying to solve?”

What were her top tips for making content on a shoestring budget? Here are some of the tricks of the trade she shared with us.

  1. Goals, budget, and timing - no matter the size of the project, your brief still needs to be based around a goal, and a sense of budget and timing. If it doesn’t have these three elements it’s not a brief.

  2. Key themes - structure your content into themes your audience wants to hear about or time periods of the year. Identify key messages and promotions over a period of time and plan what deliverables you need for above the line, social, in-store, events, website etc.

  3. Find shortcuts - if you can produce something quickly and efficiently you can stay within the relevancy window for your message. Collate your existing assets - footage, stills, international content, talent - anything that might help shortcut needing to produce these from scratch. You can also repurpose existing material to re-imagine or refresh content.

Choose your channels wisely

And finally, we heard from Jon Randles from Mosh Social and Joanne Hall from Acton International who walked us through how they use social media to sell some of New Zealand’s top food products.

  1. Choose channels wisely - use the channels that talk to your audience. For example if you have a young audience use Instagram. And once you’ve picked the right channels, make sure you create content they’ll like.

  2. User generated content – Content generated by your audience is great for creating authentic brand love for your product. It’s essentially the golden ticket on social media. So, think about how you could encourage your audience to create content for you.

  3. Have fun - they also encouraged a bit of fun across the channels too. And if nothing else, send noods. 
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How are marketing budgets changing?

During the event we polled the audience to ask - How will you change up your marketing spend for the rest of your financial year to drive ROI for your business?

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We had some pretty interesting results with most of the audience reviewing their tools and platforms as well as reducing or shifting media spend.

Many commented on how they’re making more of a shift to digital to get more bang for buck, and it seems that webinars are certainly on the rise. One audience member commented that they’re targeting more locally to make up for the lost export market. And they’re using more marketing automation to reduce postage and increase operational efficiency.

Push boundaries and think creatively

So, what was the upshot of marketing on a shoestring? The good news is – it can be done! You need to start thinking differently, push the boundaries and get creative with what you have to make it work. 

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