Build demand with a small marketing budget

Published in Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 6, 2002

IN PRINCIPLE, most small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) recognize the powerful tool of marketing communications to drive demand for products or services. In reality, few proceed to allocate or much less spend resources on promotions.

The gap between theory and implementation results from a number of factors that include one, a prevalent belief that money spent on tangible acquisitions like equipment, machineries, plant facilities and inventories among others, is money well-spent.

Two, lack of appreciation of the value of marketing communications to help create consumer acceptance of a product or service; three, lack of skilled personnel to implement the program and four, a prevailing perception that huge amounts of money similar to what big companies normally spend are needed to successfully implement a marketing communications campaign.


Recognizing budget limitations, here are some ways by which SMEs can use marketing communications to build demand for their business sans the budget of big spenders.

1. Develop a SMART marketing plan. Define a marketing objective that is specific, measurable, attainable and realistic within a given time frame. The marketing plan helps guide the company in decision-making and in prioritizing use of various promotion tools that can best communicate the differentiating product or service benefit.

With limited budgets too, one must carefully choose the communications vehicle that reaches the target market fast within a certain time frame and budget. Prioritizing the use of marketing communication tools can help SMEs judiciously spend their marketing money. Depending on the marketing objectives, a beginning floor amount of Php2.5 million can help jumpstart brand communications that will help create
awareness for a product or service.

2. Choose your marketing communication tools very well. Many SMEs stop at investing on brand names, logos and signages believing that branding is limited to these. A consumer’s mind works like a mental file folder. Sure, names and logos differentiate one file folder from another but the content behind each file folder is what makes the file folder important, often used and remembered for a long time. This analogy applies the same way to brand building. The right marketing communication tool, not solely limited to logos and signages, help create a strong image and positive perception about your brand.

Today’s development in marketing allows an SME to choose from a flurry of marketing communication tools that include above the line media advertising (printtraditional and specialized, television-traditional and cable, and radio – national, city and regional) that include outdoor billboard, lighted posters and bus shelter advertising, transit advertising, viral marketing, direct mail, co-branding, special events, trade advertising, etc.

3. Professional marketing communication experts, consultant or marketing communication agencies can help guide you in the right direction. The more experienced consultant can provide you with a network of suppliers and knowledge workers who can execute your SMART marketing plan. It is a matter for both parties to agree on a reasonable budge grounded on a specific marketing objective.

More than the creative design and execution, the greater added value of the marketing professional is the expertise in discovering the consumer insight and benefit upon which the product or service offer and its marketing communications shall be grounded.

4. Timing is critical. Marketing planning is best developed at the latest, by the last quarter of the calendar or fiscal year ending. This is when owners or the board can decide on budgets for marketing communications for implementation at the start of the following year.