Low cost, high impact branding ideas
Rushika Bhatia

Low cost, high impact branding ideas

Money can talk, but it can?t necessarily make your target audience listen. Sachin Solanki, Group Marketing Manager, Concept, shows how to create memorable and effective marketing on a modest budget

The key to effective marketing is to utilise the budget creatively. Marketing or branding is not done only through traditional means such as above-the-line (ATL) advertising. Not taking away from the benefits of advertising per se, there are a lot of small things that can be missed out with an only-ATL approach ? marketing opportunities that can actually translate into better value, and create better brand recall.
Little things such as designing your office stationery and visiting cards to make them unique and noticeable plays a vital role in brand image and brand recall. Something as small as a visiting card could have a lasting effect on a person and in turn on the company. I have seen so often that people base their judgement on a company?s size and credibility on the look and feel of its representative?s visiting card. In my own experience, soon after I had moved to Dubai, I met a journalist from a big publishing house, at a party. When I looked at her visiting card, the first impression I had was that this must be quite a small company. But when I found out that it was one of the biggest media companies in the region, I was shocked.
Corporate gifts are another option when it comes to making your brand stand out. They don?t have to be expensive in order to be imaginative and innovative. Avoid run-of-the-mill pens and mugs; after receiving about a hundred of those, people stop noticing any branding on them, and they usually make their way straight to the bin! I have seen a couple of very creative corporate gifts over the years. A useful item like a mobile phone holder will remind people of your brand every day. For the launch of a movie channel I had received a bottle of ketchup which had some interesting lines written on it in Hindi. It doesn?t cost more, but a lot of thought needs to go into doing something ?different?.
I find inspiration from different things that I come across everyday? if I see something interesting that can be translated into a marketing opportunity, I immediately make a mental note of it and file it away for future reference. Ultimately, it?s all about the ideas.
Even when it comes to advertising, one needs to look beyond the high-spend medium of mainstream print publications, and explore other avenues such as niche magazines which are more targeted. Advertising in specialised trade publications or directories is another good platform for publicity that need not cost the earth. Then there is online media such as e-mail shots, banners, online campaigns and so on ? and even radio which is quite cost effective.
A good way to cut costs when it comes to below-the-line branding material is to use in-house resources instead of giving the business to an outside supplier. For instance, posters, invitations, flyers, CD stickers and so on can easily be printed on the office printer.
Many companies focus heavily on barter deals wherein the company does not spend any direct cash, but in exchange of services or resources that it already owns (and therefore will not be a huge cost to the company) receives advertising space or branding opportunities. This is an effective business practice where both parties benefit from each other positively.
Another effective and crucial marketing element is high-impact and exceptional customer service. Nothing can beat well-trained and friendly staff when it comes to building a pleasant brand experience and making the client come back. It is key here to make sure the staff is professional and knowledgeable about the company and its products, as it can be very off-putting to find customer service representatives who are caught off-guard and unable to handle questions, no matter how friendly or nice they may be.
Co-branding with non competitors is something which can also be looked at on a regular or seasonal basis. One can brand the product with more established players such as banks or airlines. For example, many credit card companies come up with a lot of seasonal promotions with hotels, airlines, travel agencies and so on, where customers get certain benefits after spending a specific amount of money during the given period.
One of the activities that we use a lot for our two magazines, RetailME and Millionaire, is tying in with a lot of events. Basically it?s a win-win situation for the parties involved ? the magazines and the event/exhibition organisers. We market their event in our magazines, by giving them advertising space and we get to showcase our magazines at the event. There is also an opportunity to do branding at the venue; this could also involve having a stand manned by a knowledgeable salesperson who would let the visitors know about the magazine and its distribution. It has worked fantastically for us so far and we intend to carry on doing this in the future as well.
Effective public relations is another impact element in low-cost marketing, wherein the company?s top management is utilised for their expertise in particular fields or an industry. One can offer advice and furnish quotes in various publications, Websites, blogs, newspaper columns, and so on. There are a lot of Websites where we see people from different companies putting up their views and having discussions online with people from other companies. This is also a great way to build useful contacts within your given industry and broaden your horizon.
In short, no company requires a massive marketing budget in order to establish an influential and memorable brand. What is important is to tap the right opportunities and be involved on the right platforms creatively rather than expensively.