It seems that whether you’re a startup working to build a reputation and grow your company or a well-established enterprise that needs to stay relevant and top-of-mind, you’re always going to be working to cut through the clutter. It’s also normal to wonder whether or not you spent your precious marketing budget in the most strategic way possible.
People are bombarded by advertising seemingly all the time and, frankly, they are tired of being bothered. Therefore, it’s up to you to dazzle them and make them WANT to learn more about you.
And yet… if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re always going to be working with a limited budget and stuck with the question, ‘How can I get my message in front of the RIGHT people that actually want to hear from me?’
Earlier this year I did a talk on ‘Scrappy Marketing’ at the High Five Conference, an incredible 2-day creative marketing conference with a mission of making bold ideas happen.
My goal for the session was to share the lessons I’ve learned in my time as an entrepreneurial marketing strategist.
However, I believe in practicing as I preach, so not only did I talk about scrappy marketing – I actually did scrappy marketing IRL (in real life) for my conference session.
If you’re trying to get your business to cut through the clutter and stand out, here are the 3 principals for successful scrappy marketing:
- Focus – Is your product the best in the world for the audience that you’re trying to serve? If not, then you’d better get to work. Also, do you know the exact audience you’re trying to reach or do you serve “everyone?” If you can’t clearly define your target audience, I challenge you to consider how you can narrow your focus to serve a more specific audience. The best way to grow a business with a limited budget is to have a stellar product or service that solves a legitimate problem that your target customer has. It also should be crystal clear to your customers exactly what you do, why it matters, and your business needs to clearly deliver the value that is promised. If you can do these things, your product or service will inevitably sell itself.
- Purpose – Building purpose into your company gives you a competitive advantage. Using your business as a force for good is not only the right thing to do, but it will give you a platform to tell a compelling story and empower your customer to invest their money in a product or service that aligns with their values. It also gives your customer, and your employees, the opportunity to be part of something greater than themselves. If good will alone doesn’t convince you, Nielsen released a Global Corporate Sustainability report in 2015, which noted that 66% of respondents indicated that they were willing to pay extra for more sustainable brands and 73% of millennial respondents said the same.
- Test – If you’re operating on a limited budget, rather than placing big bets on any one marketing strategy, I highly recommend that you do small tests. And when I say small… I mean it. There are so many unique ways to reach customers – from networking events to conferences to different social platforms. Even on a tiny budget you can afford to place a small advertisement on Facebook and instagram to see if these platforms might work for you (if you have reason to believe your customers might be on these platforms). Use each small test as a way to figure out what messaging is most compelling and what methods of marketing and advertising are going to give you the highest return on investment. If a strategy doesn’t work then it’s totally ok to go in a different direction. Also, the more you can have meaningful conversations with your customers to more deeply understand the problem your product or service is solving, the better. So many experts talk about the importance of connecting with your customer, but so few companies truly take the time to have meaningful, ongoing conversations with their customers and approach these conversations in a way that they’ll get true insight that they can incorporate.
So what does scrappy marketing look like in real life? Here is how I used the first 2 principals of scrappy marketing to promote my session at the conference:
I had fallen in love with instagram influencer Rachel Burke, a self-describe ‘Tinsel Maven,’ after seeing Mindy Kaling rock one of her incredible tinsel jackets NYE 2018… and decided, what better way to cut through the clutter than with a super sparkly tinsel jacket!? Since it was a marketing conference, I knew that I’d be surrounded by creative professionals that would appreciate being bold. To keep things scrappy, I bought Rachel’s book Be Dazzling and learned how to DIY my own jacket and, thankfully, it turned out beautifully
I also wanted to include some type of purpose-driven giveaway related to my talk and I couldn’t think of a better ‘scrappy marketing’ case study than Divine Chocolate. Divine is a Certified B Corp chocolate company that is 44% owned by the Kuapa Kokoo co-operative in Ghana and I absolutely love them. Prior to the formation of Kuapa Kokoo cooperative, farmers in the region were being ripped off by buyers using faulty scales. The 65,000 co-operative members now not only get fair payment for their cocoa beans… they also literally have a seat on the board of Divine Chocolate. You can learn more about Divine’s origin story here.
I had planned to buy a bunch of bags of chocolate minis to hand out, but they were sold out! Thankfully, I reached out to my friend (and Arc Bender, i.e., person changing the world) Liz Miller, the Marketing Director at Divine Chocolate USA and she graciously sent me an entire box of chocolate to hand out throughout the conference.
Divine Chocolate is so incredible because not only does their chocolate change cocoa farmers’ lives for the better, it’s also absolutely delicious! Their high quality product and powerful story has been the driver behind their success in spite of having a marketing budget that’s a fraction of the budget of other chocolate companies. In the last 5 years, they have experienced double digit growth!
So you might be wondering… did my marketing work?
Well, it turns out my session was a hit & by the time I started my talk, it was standing room only!