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Big Boy Budget vs. Small Potatoes

If your marketing budget resembles the photo above…CONGRATULATIONS! You’re officially one of the big boys. Feel free to commence with a wide variety of marketing strategies that are boosted through simply buying market share. After all, it is very possible to do…buy market share…and, quite profitable in a scalable business model.

However, if you WISH that image resembled your marketing budget…if you HOPE that image one day becomes your marketing budget…well, here’s the reality:

DISCLAIMER: This reality might damage the ole ego…because let’s face it…egos and budgets are often seen at Happy Hour together. So, if you’re ego is too fragile to embrace a dose of reality…well, click to some funny meme of the day.

The reality that I speak of is this: If you merely WISH that image resembled your marketing budget, but in actuality, it in no way, shape or form resembles your marketing budget, then you’re probably closer to small potatoes than being one of the Big Boys.

At least for now.

Fret not and take heart.

It’s okay.

It’s true: Big budgets can help you get where you want to go faster.

Smaller budgets?

They can accomplish big things. However, you might have to adjust your expectations, and you will certainly need to adjust your marketing strategy and your branding strategy within that.

Both are challenges for certain.


Well, first of all, as consumers we are far more exposed to a ‘big budget’ approach to marketing and branding. Therefore, when someone enters the business realm and makes these types of decisions, they tend to ‘think’ big budget in terms of strategy. However, when you’re dealing with a small potatoes budget that carries a big budget strategy, it rarely works!

Let me give you an example.

We were working with a small credit union. One of the first things I do when taking on a new agency client is to look at and assess their previous marketing efforts. See what worked. See what didn’t work. See what gained traction and what did not. See if there are any glaring issues that might trigger a red flag, etc.

In their case, it was a clear-cut issue: A glaring lack of consistency. Their messaging changed constantly. One ad did not ‘resemble’ the next. There was no continuity from media to media.

Now, keep in mind, BrandVision Marketing works with a wide-range of clients. Some have the mentality of ‘I don’t know anything about this marketing stuff, so you deal with it.’ Others have the mentality of ‘I know more about this marketing stuff than anybody so listen to me.’ In this case, it credit union’s president probably fell into the latter group. As such, he fashioned himself a marketing genius and came up with new taglines constantly…new everything constantly.

Now, keep in mind, their budget was pretty small. Large enough for us to create some solid continuity with a consistent audience and grow the brand over time. However, we could not afford big splashes anywhere. We had smaller ads and had to create a consistent message to slowly gain awareness and begin creating traction that would build a profitable brand, making current and future marketing more profitable.

Mr. President objected. He liked his quirky tags and reminded me that big companies use that same strategy all the time. He reminded me that they ‘change their taglines like he changes his underwear.’

Well, too much information, but I agreed.

Then, I pointed out that they were dumping millions into a national market and thousands and thousands into local markets as well. When you’ve got $200k to spend each month, instead of $2k to spend each month, we can afford to implement that kind of strategy as well.

Yes, he may get tired of the same tagline every month…month after month. However, it takes weeks and months of exposure for it to take hold because of the impressions afforded by our budget. Just when a prospective member was beginning to grasp a message as a branded part of who that credit union is and what they are all about…the message changed.

It never really took hold.

Yes…he may be sick of it, but just when he’s getting sick of it, the market is just beginning to grasp it.

The solution?

Adjust our strategy. Quit acting like a player and accept a strategy that is grounded in reality.

We created meaningful messaging that was consistent touchpoint to touchpoint. And, we stuck with it.

Eventually, it took hold. Our marketing had the same ‘look’ and ‘feel’ with continuity throughout that slowly shaped a profitable brand. Within two years, they were one of the fastest growing credit unions in the state. Continuity had a big role in that effort.

It just took time and a dose of reality. Yes, it meant re-shaping expectations. It meant re-shaping strategy.

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with being small potatoes. You can literally live on potatoes as your sole source of nutrition for eons. The problem comes from with acting as if your potatoes are caviar.

Results are our focal point for you. That may include some tough love and a dose of reality.

Are you ready? If so and you want to talk? Book an appointment here…email me at; or leave a message at 865.531.5874.

By Scott Trueblood, of BrandVision Marketing. BrandVision Marketing is a full-service marketing agency based in Knoxville, TN.

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