What has the recession taught us about working on a tight marketing budget?

Our resident copywriter Jonny Edge interviews Mark on working with smaller budgets.

Over the last few years, marketers have had to make campaigns successful on tighter budgets than ever before, will people be reluctant to increase budgets again, now that we’ve learned to be thriftier?

Smaller budgets are certainly challenging to work with, and restricted funds will often affect which agency a brand approaches. As a result, you can see bigger and bigger brands working with smaller and smaller agencies outside of London.

I might be a little biased, but as well as being more recession-budget-friendly, I’d argue that with smaller, younger agencies you’re getting teams that are not only more digital-savvy, but that can deliver more bang for the client’s buck. Smaller agencies are generally considered to be more of a risk, but I’d hope that working with them would be a real eye-opener for clients.

As for whether brand budgets will increase again after agencies have all gotten used to working with smaller budgets, I think they will. I’ve always found that clients are willing to spend more as long as you can demonstrate a clear ROI. Some brands probably will switch back to using larger agencies as soon as they can, though. Hopefully by that point though, smaller agencies that have grown over the last 5-6 years, and are continuing to grow, will be in a better position to compete against the old guard of the marketing world.

Can you give any examples of successful campaigns that you’ve run on a smaller budget?

Working with smaller budgets is exactly what we excel at. As an agency, we position ourselves to work with entrepreneurs looking for big change and fast growth.

For instance, a few years ago we launched a campaign for a luxury holiday resort in North Wales. The aim was to sell log cabins, along with 12 months rent. Everything was done on a tight budget. That’s the photography, magazine advertising, website, direct mail, email – the lot. Our strategy, though I would say this, was absolutely spot on and the work looked amazing. I can’t be too far wrong though, because as a result of our campaign, they ended up smashing their sales targets in the summer by almost 200%!

We’ve seen similar success with GoNutrition, Whole Lotta Good and Barburrito as well. In terms of B2B work, we have just finished a rebrand, website and app for SurveyMe, and again we are expecting big things in terms of stats from what was a relatively tight budget.

Do you think that the era of mass direct mail and emailing will return, now that budgets are starting to increase, slowly but surely?

Email is going to change a lot over the next 2 years, not only in terms of how we consume it, but in how we deliver and monitor it too. One-to-few marketing versus one-to-many requires a lot more resources in terms of creating relevant content.  Advances in email marketing and cookie tracking allow us to do this with huge success, but services like Hubspot and Silverpop are very expensive. So we devised a series of tools that cover call tracking, web visitor tracking and an email-nurturing database for a third of the price.

We’re expecting a big increase in the amount clients are willing to spend on content, but clients seem to be aware and ready for the change. Inbound marketing increasingly requires brands to become publishers. You’ll see a rapid rise in demand for copywriters and analytics specialists, and before you ask, no, you can’t have a pay rise Jonny!

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