Written by Danielle Chevriot, Marketing Manager at Marketing Association, this article highlights valuable insights from industry experts at a recent marketing meetup. These successful entrepreneurs and seasoned marketing directors offer practical advice on maximising resources for marketing success, with a focus on strategic planning and branding. Join Danielle as she shares her key takeaways from this insightful event.

Marketing on a Small Budget: How to get gains for your campaigns with nothing but your brains.

Excuse the title, I couldn’t help myself.

Our October Monthly Marketing Meetup was organised by The Marketing Club, with support from the MA, and was all about how to be successful with your marketing on a small budget. I was there in the room capturing all the tips and advice and I’m glad I was! The speakers all had practical, honest advice to give which stemmed from real-life experiences and results. This event was too good not to share with everyone else. I’ve captured it all here as best I could. I hope you enjoy!

Let’s start with introducing the speakers. The panel consisted of:

  • Nick Ward, Entrepreneur and Co-Founder, Moodi Blends.
  • Lara Christie, Founder & CEO, Pure Mama
  • Esther Dawson, Marketing Director, ODV
  • Steve Ballantyne, Director, Brand IQ.
  • Charlotte Ashmore, Marketing Manager, Snell Packaging & Safety

Nick’s advice:

Because of their startup budget, everything is done in-house at Moodi Blends, including the marketing, execution and analysing. Nick and his management team have their fingers in a lot of pies – they had to suddenly become marketing experts overnight along with finance experts, operational experts, and so on, you get the drift. Here’s the best advice I took from Nick, on how to market on a small budget.

When you have a small budget, there are two fundamental elements. One is money, the second is people and resources. You don’t have unlimited amounts of either – so choose where to spend your time wisely. When you’re working on a small budget you can’t do it all. Start with a small budget allocation which is hyper-focused on one or two marketing channels, test and learn. Focus on channels that have quick feedback loops, you need to know as soon as possible if your money is being spent wisely. And, I’ll say it one more time, test and learn!

Here is Nick’s six-step playbook for marketing on a small budget:

Set objectives: ensure these align with broader company objectives.

Set key results: these must be measurable against your objectives.

Strategise: consider your channels, direction and the resources you have to allocate to these plans (are they achievable?).

Hypothesise: this is an important one. You must think, ‘what do I expect to happen?’. What is required to prove or disprove that hypothesis.

Execute: we all know too-well about execution, I’m sure!

Learn: this is the most undervalued part of the journey and often overlooked by many marketers (I get it though, we’re all busy right?). But we need to prioritise time to learn from our results so we continue to know more and get better with every campaign.

Consolidate where you can. Test and learn. If you skim read up until now, if nothing else, take those two points with you.

Lara Christie’s advice:

Lara Christie had some real gems in her presentation, and what an interesting story! Lara spotted a gap in the market for pregnancy skincare products. In 2.5 years, Pure Mama had 42% market share. Yes, you read that right.

From day one Lara and her team knew what Pure Mama’s brand was, what they stood for, what their purpose was, and they continued to stay true to that brand. They had a big brand ambition, and Lara strategically built her small team on people who understood big brands but knew how to execute like a small brand. Their motto is, “little bit cheaper, little bit quicker, little bit faster”.

  • The key areas of priority outside of their product is:
  • Our people
  • Packaging – first customer experience with the product, make this a good one!
  • Photography – Lara quickly learnt she wasn’t a photographer and outsourced this, details matter!
  • Partnerships – Lara and the team send out a lot of free products without expectations of getting anything in return. But she finds people genuinely love the product so much they want to give her and the brand a shout-out. Trust your product!
  • Digital (website & performance) – constantly optimizing and ever-evolving.
  • Brand building – purpose, and playing the long game.

A big part of what makes Pure Mama successful is the team behind the name. All staff members (all of which are actually friends or family), radiate the brand of Pure Mama. They complement each other’s skills, they can be honest with each other, and they trust each other. Lara identifies these things as a recipe for success.

Lara left us with a solid reminder, “Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress!”

Esther Dawson’s advice:

ODV’s brand story was another compelling presentation, and like Pure Mama, reminded the room how important a brand’s purpose, identity and personality is. It’s what stands you out from competitors – you may sell the same product or offer the same service, but your brand experience is unique. And I must admit, Esther’s story reminded me of some fundamental marketing principles that can be easy to forget while you’re on the day-to-day grind.

Things like truly connecting with your audience, adding fun and joy to your social media posts, showing your audience the people behind the brand. This is what your audience wants to see.

So how can you create a unique brand experience for your audience? It can be simple things like:

  • Fast replies to enquiries.
  • Unique/fun packaging – I’ll try and get the video for you of how ODV presents the finished video to their clients.
  • An engaging monthly newsletter that adds value to your customers.
  • Fun social media posts showcasing the team behind the name.

When you keep showing up, worry less about engagement stats, stay true to your brand personality – you’ll see results. Brand personality is what customers feel when they come in contact with your brand. Esther and the team started seeing this with the customer reviews that rolled in. ODV’s brand purpose is to ‘spread joy’, they were stoked when reviews started rolling in replicating the word ‘joy’ – things like ‘we had a ball making the video’, ‘ODV brought the fun and good energy.’ One review even went as far as saying “they are capable, creative, and slightly cracked” (ODV’s favourite review).

In the words of Esther, “Brand marketing is upper-funnel, long-term, and emotional, brand-based marketing - it encapsulates all the work you do targeting cold audiences that is designed to build brand preference and love.” – what a nice summary!

Steve Ballantyne’s advice: 

What’s a marketing event these days without AI? Steve Ballantyne was next up, and for those who don’t know him, Steve is the master of AI imagery and branding! He gave the room practical tips on how to generate good AI images for your marketing campaigns. Here’s the best takeaways from Steve’s presentation: 

  • AI imagery can save you a lot of money on stock images or photography. 
  • Midjourney is the platform Steve uses. 
  • Be warned! Watching text prompts create an image is addictive – don’t start unless you have time.  
  • AI imagery is unique, can be generated very fast, and is cheap.  
  • Knowing how to prompt is key! This takes practice, a lot of it.  
  • It can take anywhere between 2 minutes and 2 hours for your AI image to be created.  

If you want to see what a good AI image can look like, hit up Steve Ballantyne – I’m sure he will be happy to show you some of their assets.

Charlotte Ashmore's advice:

Lastly, we had Charlotte Ashmore take the mic, B2B Marketing Manager from Snells Packaging. Charlotte focused on content marketing and social media. She had some great tips on how to generate meaningful engagement with your customers on a low budget.

We all know that people are bombarded with brand messaging these days. You simply can’t escape it. To get cut-through and to be seen through all the noise out there, you need to give your audience something different, something interesting, and something impactful. This can take time, and more importantly, guts! It’s not easy capturing that video that pushes the boundaries, or capturing entertaining moments within the office, then posting that hoping to get good feedback. It can be hard and a little daunting.

Here are some suggestions from Charlotte on how to gain that traction with your content. Keep your content relevant to your audience and always circle back to your core brand pillars. Does your content fit into one of your brand pillars? For example, Nike’s brand purpose is all about community and diversity. Their ads and content reflect this and their audience loves it!

Focus on your customers and the community, not just yourself. An example given was that case studies should be about your customer’s success and their story, not focusing on you and what your company did – that should be obvious without stating it.

Don’t wear yourself out on the content treadmill. Reuse and repurpose content where relevant. It can save you time, money and still achieve the results you’re wanting to achieve.

Remember to be human! Be relevant! And utilise employee advocacy! Nothing spells out good reach by getting the whole team to share the same piece of content.

Speaking of employee advocacy, remember that you need buy-in from the senior team. Consider developing an in-house LinkedIn training programme where you audit your teams’ profiles and offer advice and recommendations on how to enhance them.

I loved this quote from Charlotte, “everyone has a personal brand, it’s just whether you manage it or not.”

All in all a great night, filled with lots of practical advice to remember and take-aways. For me a key theme was BRAND. Having that unique purpose and understanding of your brand personality, and capturing your brand personality in your content and customer experiences. Stop pumping out mediocre content, instead create brand fans and play the long game.

Keep an eye out for future Monthly Marketing Meetups where you can network with industry peers and learn while you do.