I’m in my mid-30s, which means I’m a millennial. Before I buy any product, I look up reviews. Competing brands. Lists such as ‘Best wireless headphones of 2019’ or even ‘Best robot vacuum cleaner’. I’ll often go for a known brand, but if I see a lesser-known brand with good reviews or placed on rec lists, I’d definitely consider it. As with many people in my generation, I don’t particularly feel loyal to any brands. If a lesser-known brand makes a better product, I’ll try it. This doesn’t always work so well — I’ve definitely bought the occasional dud — but as a whole, small brands have a fair go where I’m concerned. As long as they have some level of visibility.
In the age of Amazon and the global marketplace, brands can more easily carve out a niche of their own when they have to. They also face competition from all other online-savvy brands across the globe, all of whom would be offering about the same thing. You’d have to be able to stand out in the global marketplace, and deal with people willing to jump brands to similar alternatives at the drop of a hat. In this day and age, competing with everyone else can feel overwhelming. There are, however, ways for any business to have a workable marketing strategy even on a small business’ often shoestring budget.
Small Businesses and the Reason for Being
We always ask any business that comes to us for advertising / marketing work what their reason for existing is. Is it because your product is cheaper? Made ethically? Made in Australia? Recyclable? Do you support charities or a cause? Not every business has to have an easily-voiced reason for being, but having one that is laudable will make it simpler for you to stand out in your marketplace. People nowadays like to pick brands that align to their principles and lifestyles. Besides, why contribute to the recycling crisis in Australia if you don’t have to? Being seen as a more “green”, or more “ethical” company doesn’t drop you in the back of a hipster shop in South Melbourne nowadays.
If you have absolutely no reason for being — or can’t figure it out by yourself — get in touch. We’re always happy to consult with customers and help them find their place in the market. Chances are, however, you have some inkling. Why did you go through all the trouble of setting up your business in the first place? You must have seen some niche that you could fill. Amplify that, adjust, and put out the word. Unless whatever you’re doing is so wildly different that you have no competition, you’re going to need to be different. Especially if you can’t fork out the cash for a splashy launch or ongoing visibility marketing.
Small Budget Marketing and Other Stories
‘Traditional’ advertising is kind of a funny term nowadays. Technically, it refers to things like TV advertising, radio, outdoor (billboards etc) advertising and such. Fun as these things are to create, we recognise that our clients usually need some degree of digital advertising — depending on their product or service and the message they want to get out. The type of advertising or marketing you use is going to depend on your target audience and on your budget. The fact remains that a lot of businesses — big and medium — have a small budget for marketing and advertising. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, businesses that do less than $5 mil a year in sales and that have a net profit margin of around 10-12% should be doing about 7-8% of their gross revenue in marketing. Naturally, this varies by industry. Via Deloitte:
Consumer packaged goods spend the most on marketing percentage-wise:
This isn’t a big surprise, particularly for FMCG. If you’re a brand in this category, you likely already know how important it is to have up-to-date packaging, multiple touchpoints, and an active presence online and offline where people can be exposed to the existence of your products. Even brands that have a seemingly out there concept (coffee skincare anyone?) can, with a robust online presence, become a viral brand. Via CoreDNA:
Franky Body’s founders Jess Hatzis and Bree Johnson started this unique beauty brand when Johnson’s husband and co-founder of the business, Steve Rowley, noticed a number of female customers at his Melbourne-based cafes asking for the leftover coffee grounds to use as an exfoliator. With a small investment of $5,000, they created a single product, their coffee body scrub, and started to sell it on social media platforms – with no marketing budget.
Here’s what has happened since their launch in 2013…
They’ve grown an Instagram following in excess of 690,000 followers
Their website attracts over 80,000 visits a month (Similar Web)
Their branded hashtag strategy has generated over 100,000 user images
They’ve sold over 2 million body scrubs in 149 different countries
They cracked yearly revenue of over $20 million in 2017
You don’t have to be a cool new hipster skincare brand to go viral like this. And as you can see, the initial investment doesn’t need to burn up your budget. Frank Body began by identifying a nice market (Millennials and Gen Zs) and creating a very particular product (coffee-based ethical body scrub). They created memorable copy and products that their audience could identify with, and branding / an online presence that fit with their audience’s lifestyle.
They also created two hashtags for their audiences to tag themselves with (#letsbefrank and #thefrankeffect), incentivising people to use the tags with prizes. Their content doesn’t change much in terms of image choice and messaging. In other words, they’ve been successful with a small budget because they’ve been smart about how the budget has been used. They’ve had a clear focus, a clear market, and a clear strategy that they stuck to.
One of the worst things you can do when running a campaign — especially a small campaign — is to panic. Traction will take time to pick up. While you should have processes for testing, for identifying problems, and for adjusting to any problems that might crop up, throwing the strategy to the ground and running around like a headless chook if the results aren’t what you’re looking for will only hurt your cause. Some things that people do when they panic:
+ Changing the goalposts / KPIs halfway through a campaign: this will just waste the money you’ve already put into the campaign.
+ Suddenly overhauling all creative: this will be jarring to your competitor. Barring an issue with the creative (an error? it was insensitive?), stick to your guns.
+ Stapling on stopgap measures that can often make things worse.
Want to know more? Get in touch.