If your brand’s buying choices were being scrutinised by the business equivalent of Greg Wallace, how would BBC presenters be advising you to ‘Eat Well and Spend Less’ with your marketing budget?
Would you emerge squeaky clean? If so, you can proudly claim to deliver cost-effective marketing initiatives that really work, to an ever-growing number of ecstatic customers. And then look on smugly as the rest of us cinch in our belts.
Let’s imagine there is more that you could do, with less.
After all, the whole world is being frugal. Since about 2008. It’s a thing. Companies need to cut cost to serve while maintaining standards; customers have less cash to spend. But other than just cutting budgets, has our approach to the marketing process itself, responded frugally?
When it comes to the product element of the marketing mix, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest it has. Thanks to people like Jaideep Prabhu and Navi Radjou in Cambridge and Palo Alto, jugaad or frugal innovation is enjoying time in the spotlight. Take a look at www.jugaadinnovation.com and www.frugalinnovationhub.com .
Jugaad refers to solving problems on a ‘thin air’ budget. Delivering low-cost products by devising simple answers to difficult and sometimes marginal problems – how to build a fridge that needs no electricity; or a bike that works better on bumpy ground. Companies like Barclays, Samsung and SNCF are using this kind of thinking to develop and launch new initiatives fast, on a test and learn basis. An element of ‘getting stuff wrong’ is an expected part of the journey.
Frugal pricing strategies are following lean innovation, as ‘doing one thing well’ is bringing simpler technology within the reach of many more people. Just as the pocket watch became a mass-market item in the 1850s, so basic mobile banking is being democratised in our time.
Distribution has also gone a little ‘make-do-and-mend’: pop-up shops, living room restaurants, sharing other people’s spaces. How and where we deliver products and services to customers is flexing to be frugal. In the States for example, people are being asked if they wouldn’t mind attending a ‘group’ medical appointment – sitting in with other people with the same health concerns, such as heart disease or diabetes. Not to everyone’s taste, but waiting times and service costs are lower. And those willing to take part talk of the benefits of ‘sharing’ – more time with the doctor; learning from other patients; a feeling of ‘not being alone’ in tackling day to day health problems.
But what about being frugal with the rest of the marketing mix? Same as last year’s plan, less a promotion or two? Social media is a great way to fill the gap, yet there’s a danger it becomes the panacea, because there isn’t time to think of something else.
If you were starting your own business, what no-cost ideas would you deploy?
What elements of grass-roots marketing are overlooked, because by comparison to a start-up, we can afford to shop at Waitrose? “Enjoy a Coke with….” Dillon the Contactless Donkey. Genius. What about melding behavioural (nudge) economics with marketing? We helped a client boost product uptake by 24%. Compelling, for an initiative that cost as much as a sheet of paper.
And how about the upturn in numbers you can get from just making sure that your own people are your powerhouse? We know word of mouth marketing works. But does it’s sheer simplicity mean we forget about the diverse ways of deploying it? A staff engagement programme that we devised for a client recently, got people actively hearing and transmitting product benefits they had been deaf to before.
Next time the marketing budget is reviewed, it might be worth setting a few internal challenges. Try your hand at being jugaad.
• Grass-roots, zero budget – think of one initiative your brand could do that would cost next to nothing.
• People are your power-house – are their motors fully revved?
• Cost-engineer your product by all means, but observe, preserve and respect what is valuable for customers.