How to amplify your brand on a budget

David Hayes

HBT Agency co-founder and managing director David Hayes. Source: Supplied.

‘How to amplify your brand on a budget’ is probably the biggest puzzle in marketing.

Why? It is partly because budgets seem to be constantly shrinking — it’s a challenge almost everybody faces. 

But if there were general principles that could amplify any marketing spend, wouldn’t marketers want to adopt those principles in every situation they encounter? You’d think so.

Luckily, there are some general rules, so let’s look at it how to amplify a brand on a budget — for both a brand with a broad consumer base and a niche brand.

Look for efficiencies

The great thing about a niche is it eliminates most consumers. It should be possible to get very specific about your audience’s media consumption habits, and target them accurately and, ideally, measurably.

A brand with a broad consumer base presents a very different challenge. Sometimes it’s possible to treat a mass brand like a niche brand, by finding a more focused audience within the ‘mass’. Are some consumers more important than others? For example, if some are rusted-on loyalists without much potential for increased frequency, it might be best to focus your efforts elsewhere. Look to your competitors. Might some of their consumers be persuaded to switch? If yes, define that audience and apply niche thinking. Voila, amplification.

At this stage, good research is critical. A segmentation study defining different consumer types and their potential value to you can be money very well spent.

So much for the low-hanging fruit. But what if you’re stuck with a broad audience, and you just can’t whittle it down?

After efficiency, impact

When you’ve found as much efficiency in message delivery as you can, it’s time to consider the message itself.

Genuine ‘amplification’ only happens when you have a message that is more noticeable than it has any right to be, and is saying something that sticks with people.

If you have a new product, or a meaningful innovation, your job’s a lot easier. ‘New’ is the most powerful quality a brand or product can have, which is why so many mass marketers’ brands bring out new product variants every year. Streets Ice Cream likely never expected Paddle Pop Hundreds and Thousands to sell a truckload, but it gave them the chance to shout ‘new’ and everyone paid attention. Job done.

But what if you don’t have any ‘new news’? (I hate that nonsense, for the record.) Well, it’s time to get creative. Not wild and crazy — not necessarily —but simple and single-minded, which are the two things people seem to find hardest these days. If you can pull it off, there’s genuine advantage to be had.

Get very creative

What gets something noticed, even — heaven forbid — talked about? It could be very clever. It could be very cheeky. It could be very emotional.

The key word is ‘very’.  

‘Very’ makes many marketers nervous. Often, an agency will present a ‘very’ idea and their client is thrilled. The next question, however, often is: ‘But do we have to go that far? Won’t “nearly” do?’

Sometimes there’ll be a marketing person, often the one who is closest to the action in terms of briefing and creative development, who can see what’s being lost with ‘nearly’. When that person stands up for ‘very’, it’s one of the most exciting, reassuring things creative people will experience. There should be more of it.

I worked for a short while on Victoria’s TAC campaign, and it was one of the great learning experiences of my career. That TAC work, pioneered by Greg Harper, was all about ‘very’. The industry was divided about it. People were, initially, shocked by it. There were news stories about it; everyone had a view on it. It went on to help save thousands of lives; it was one of the great Australian advertising campaigns, no question.

Good creative people get passionate about the ‘very’ ideas. The best marketing people do, too.

To amplify any brand, in any situation, first, maximise your efficiencies. Make sure you’re reaching people in as focused a manner as you can.

Then, find your ‘very’, and get it out there.

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