I recently had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Professor Keith Stoughton from MK University.  Prof. Stoughton has the daunting task of building a new university fit for a dynamic, modern city in the 21st century.

Originally, the plan was for a traditional campus with all the usual facilities and associated status.  But the economic climate and a cut in funding means a different, more scaled-back approach is now required.  Perhaps surprisingly, this has been welcomed by the Professor, who’s taking the opportunity to re-think what a modern university should be, designing the new faculty ‘ground up’ around the needs of the city and its future students.

The idea of designing your product around your target audience will come as no surprise to marketers, but what was interesting was the Professor’s enthusiasm for the challenge of having to make it ‘better for less’.

In a previous blog, I wrote about ‘restructuring for efficiency’ – the need to re-cut your cloth in times of economic pressure.  But regardless of what is happening in the outside world, budget constraints can be viewed as an opportunity.

In my career, I’ve managed budgets of every size – from an ad budget of £35m to a total marketing budget that was just a tiny fraction of that – and I’ve long held the view that ‘big budgets can make for lazy media plans’.  In other words, it’s all too easy to lavish money on expensive advertising without putting too much creative thought behind it (filling in the boxes on a TV schedule until the money runs out).

The most successful, most awarded and most creative campaigns, however, were always the ones where money was tight and the team had to think harder (out-manoeuvring the competition, rather than out-shouting them).  Many great new brands have achieved scale without big ad budgets, or going on TV, and today, building a strong base of advocates through Social Media and digital makes this even more viable.

As a consultant, my own marketing spend is peanuts. The solution, as ever, is tight targeting and cost-effective media.

We are all familiar with the expression ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ and this most certainly applies to marketing in time of recession.  It should be embraced, and not thought of as a temporary inconvenience.

If you think your business could benefit from more cost-efficient marketing, just get in touch.