Innovation has long been key for brands that want to keep their messages fresh. Precisely how that innovation looks, however, depends on a brand's unique goals.
Verizon wanted to draw consumers into its event space, which is why it partnered with Snapchat last year for an augmented reality treasure hunt. Whiskey distributor Glenfiddich aimed to wow its audience, which is why it developed a personalized, digital app-enhanced tasting. And to help its messaging cut through the clutter and competition, lifestyle brand Refinery29 designed its 29Rooms event as a way for brands to do just that.
But as these brands — and many others — know, innovation is expensive. Finding ways to innovate when budgets are tight might seem frivolous or irresponsible, but it's a necessary evil when it comes to keeping your audience engaged.
Innovate Without Investing Too Much
Perception isn't always reality. It's true that the mid-2000s market downturn caused some companies to balk at investing in the next big event or marketing app. For sharp marketers, this didn't signal the end of innovation. The tighter economy forced many marketers to strategically align their budgets with their objectives and target ROIs.
Many digital marketers expect more bang for their buck — an approach that still presents challenges. Brands that inject their experiences with a premium look and feel do so at a high price, usually through heavy spends on top-of-the-line furniture and the latest in digital technology solutions.
It's also easy to get off track decorating your campaign with every possible bell and whistle. Those custom fabrication elements and technology experiences, however, can eat up your budget quickly.
These need not be barriers to innovation, though. They present opportunities to think outside the box. When you can't spend money, instead spend time on core components and must-have pieces that tell your brand story and wow audience members enough to leave a lasting impression.
Budget Your Breakthrough
There are a number of ways to innovate without breaking the bank. Here are a few to get you started:
- Prioritize your core deliverables. It's tough to stay on budget without a clear idea of your foundational pieces. Before you have partner agencies build out your campaign experience, you need to give them a foundation that includes everything from your touchpoint ROIs to your goals for data capture.
Your core deliverables will depend on your overarching objectives. Do you want to get your product or service in front of as many people as possible? Is your goal to drive your customers toward some specific action like a website visit? These differing goals may generate vastly different core deliverables.
There's no definitive set of deliverables. It's up to you to consider your short- and long-term goals and define your must-haves first. You can then build out around that core within your budget — and in tandem with your partners.
- Lean on partner expertise early. Whether you're working with a design, fabrication, or digital element agency, it's critical to leverage those partnerships early. While you might have a clear vision of your campaign's objectives and core deliverables, these ideas don't execute themselves. Your partners should understand the intricacies and difficulties of bringing a campaign to life.
From the costs of show services to structural design to the range of available tech solutions, your partner agency should be proficient in navigating the complexities of a campaign launch. When you go in blind to these factors, you're likely to overspend right out of the gate.
Don't wait until you've already planned every aspect of your space to bring in a partner (or multiple). Use partnerships early and often to fill innovation gaps when you see them.
- Get your partners on the same page. If you partner with multiple agencies, don't leave them in silos. You've likely considered the addition of monitors, DJs, live-artist installations, and other aspects into your overall activation. If each of your partners is working only on their narrow scope of the project, costs will add up.
Hold a forum — a meeting, a conference call, or an online meetup — for your partners early in the process. This gives them the opportunity to see the whole picture and discuss any potential issues that might impact your project's budget in the future.
When you tear down silos in this way, you place the responsibility for a cohesive, budget-friendly campaign on the shoulders of your experts. Meanwhile, they benefit from understanding the full scope of your objectives. When you pair your expertise with a like-minded partner, you gain the freedom to think outside the box without breaking the bank.
Unique approaches breathe life into any marketing initiative, but that doesn't mean it should come with a high price tag. Build on existing deliverables and leverage complementary partnerships to keep your message relevant in an overly saturated landscape.
Have you successfully implemented any of the strategies above or tried some of your own? Tell us about your approach in the comments below.