Ten ways to make your budget stretch further in 2013

Every little helps!

1: Seek an opportunity in adversity

Reading the writing on the wall is a great place to start to save money. Inertia, complacency and over-confidence are your inner demons. Get rid of them. They’ll cost you money.

Too many directors pay insufficient attention to the early warning signs of big shifts in demographics, technology and regulation. As a result they miss out on a great opportunity to proactively innovate to take advantage of these shifts.

Turn adversity on its head and get it to work in your favour.

The key is to translate challenges into opportunities and use constraints to spur innovation. It’s about seeing the glass as half full, not half empty.

2: Do more with less

Being resourceful in a resource-scarce world should become second nature. But it isn’t.

You don’t necessarily need a multi-million Euro budget. In fact some of the most successful in our industry are those able to get more from less by applying frugality to every activity they perform. They tend to work for organisations that are efficient and by that I mean are frugal in how they design products, how they produce them, how they deliver them and how they perform after-sales or after-care. Their frugality shows up not only in their parsimonious use of capital and natural resources but also in how they maximize their limited time and energy.

Rather than driving everything themselves, which can be very costly, they rely extensively on partners and collaborators to perform various operations, saving resources, time and money. Try to re-use and combine rather than create something new from scratch.

3: Think and act flexibly

Try walking across a road in Mumbai, India.

You’ll only make it to the other side if you’re prepared to think and act flexibly!

And there’s no point thinking the Highway Code is going to be your saviour when you’re behind the wheel.

It won’t. Linear thinking won’t always help.

The same is true in our industry.

Western brand owners and their leaders often operate in a black-and-white world that confers a sense of predictability on the order of things.

For example, competitors are ‘bad’ and partners are ‘good’. Regulations are typically ‘bad’ for business whereas protectionist policies are ‘good’.

And although some brand owners may like ‘doing good’ as part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives, they worry primarily about ‘doing well’ financially. Yet such binary thinking that’s anchored in deep-seated assumptions prevents brand owners from reconciling priorities, a process that could yield creative, innovative and highly cost-effective marketing solutions.

The sheer diversity, volatility and unpredictability of global markets demand that we are flexible. Inflexibility will result in failure and a waste of resources.

We must think laterally, out of the box. We should experiment and improvise.

4: Keep it simple

In the developing world, consumers are put off by complexity.

Complicated and elaborate communication is costly and can be a distraction.

In the Western hemisphere, we seem obsessed with everything being bigger and brighter. We often get seduced by the power of technology.

2013 won’t be like that.

Consumers are ‘down-shifting’ and opting for simpler, more meaningful lives. Brand owners that respond to these attitudes, values, beliefs, perceptions and behaviours will benefit in the long run. All that glitters isn’t gold.

5: Use the web

Being part of the community, being yourself, being transparent, being a great listener and a genuine problem solver builds trust, and the fastest way to do this with the biggest community of like-minded people is on the web.

6: Work more constructively with external agencies

The best way to do this is to be focused on outcomes, not just outputs, such as media coverage or a new App.

Share the learning of triumphs and mistakes amongst the whole team, including your trusted advisors. By making a commitment to triple loop learning, you’ll save a fortune in the long run as external agencies won’t suggest strategies that don’t work and you won’t blow a big fat hole in your budget finding out. Learn as you go.

7: Spend less than others say you should

Anyone who’s ever been into a car showroom to buy a new or used car will know that having an idea of what you want to spend can evaporate in the presence of a convincing salesperson who knows how to pull the emotional levers and customize the product ‘just for you’.

It’s not just alloy wheels or a nicer in-car entertainment system, but it’s the extended warranty, freedom of not worrying about the gap in resale value when you go to sell the car at the end of the payments period and other ‘extras’ that all come at a price.

One that’s invariably not the same figure as the one you started with.

The same is true in our industry, particularly when it comes to designing and building a website. Beware of buying extra bells and whistles.

Chances are, you don’t need them.

8: Don’t just spend time with people you know -network

In our industry, many of us prefer to keep company of those whom we know.

But growth of a commercial enterprise demands networking. For one thing, building a new relationship with a customer or client could unlock marketing and sales opportunities well beyond the spending constraints of those who you already know.

Effective communication increasingly depends on word of mouth.

And the best way to stimulate effective word of mouth is to network.

And the best bit is that it doesn’t have to cost you anything if you join a relevant social networking group where you are free to exchange thoughts and ideas.

9: Collaborate with your customers and clients for profit

Why use expensive market research to come up with insights and answers to some of the most challenging sales and marketing issues when you can collaborate with your customers and clients and get them to help you design your products and services?

After all, if they like them, they’ll want to buy them.

10: Know your ends from your means

Winston Churchill, one of the greatest statesmen that ever lived, once said:

‘However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.’

The best communication plans and investment in a range of activities will all turn to dust if they don’t deliver the outcomes you’re looking for. Being outcome-focused rather than output-driven means that you know your ends from your means. And that’s by far the most profitable place to be.

Ardi Kolah is the author of High Impact Marketing That Gets Results (£19.99) published by Kogan Page and available on Amazon. Click the image to order your copy today.