We find ourselves perpetually in an era of “do more for less,” where budgets are lower than we need and expectations are higher. I don’t blame businesses for the change — it’s a challenge that we will rise to. I wanted to highlight three marketing tools I use every day to save money for clients and create explosive marketing with small budgets.
Google AdWords. The best thing, I’ve found, about AdWords is how unbelievably cheap it is. There’s not another medium on the planet where businesses can spend just $10 a week to advertise and still see results. Broadcast, like television and radio, cost thousands to run a :30 commercial, not to mention the cost of production to actually get the actors, videographers, post-processing, set designers, and other talent in the same room, with the same goal, fairly compensated for their invaluable skills. Billboards and print can cost hundreds of dollars each day. New digital opportunities, like search engine optimization, social media, and PR take weeks or months to ramp up. But AdWords? You can write the ad yourself, schedule the campaign, and set a budget. The barrier to entry is insanely low. And you’re paying for results – unless someone expresses interest by clicking on your campaign ad, you don’t pay anything.
Adobe Creative Suite. Some of you may remember the days before Adobe launched its line of creative products. Back then, art was created with draft tables, rulers, protractors, and typesetters. The process was called “mechanicals” and they took hours, if not days, to produce. But while we’ve come a long way thanks to computers and software, Adobe made the decision last year to launch the Creative Cloud, and it’s revolutionizing the creative industry. Just a couple of years ago, we had to worry about whether or not the person working on our projects had the latest version of Adobe software. If they didn’t, some of our changes wouldn’t render correctly, there would be issues with compatibility, and there could be hours of lost work. Not to mention upgrading to new software every year was cost prohibitive at several thousand dollars for the full Creative Suite. Creative Cloud did away with all that. Now, we pay $40 a month, and that includes access to everything, from Photoshop (formerly one of the cheaper options at under $500) to Premiere Pro (video editing software that retailed for $1,000+). Creative Cloud includes a couple dozen pieces of software that make it possible to produce assets in print, interactive, video – any multimedia format that we want. Because Adobe did away with versioning, each user is on the latest version of the software at all times, and we’re getting constant bugfixes and updates. I’m confident when the next big thing in media happens (holographic 3D? why not!), Adobe will be there with software that we can use to make it a reality for our clients.
Envato, including GraphicRiver, ThemeForest, VideoHive, PhotoDune, and the rest of the collection of their partner sites. Envato sells templates. Before Envato, template sites existed, but they were low-quality affairs that required a Google search or two to find. They typically had no level of administrative approval for new templates, as they usually made their money off of advertising. More to the point, there was no reason to create templates, as the marketplace was simply so fragmented that template authors wouldn’t receive royalties. Envato changed all that. By providing a core network of templates across all media, they started generating massive amounts of traffic – enough traffic that top graphic designers and developers stopped developing work for agencies or clients and started building templates. The result is endlessly extensible, imminently usable creative assets at a fraction of the cost of building them on our own. And with a good template and a few hours of customization, the final result looks completely original.
So there you have it – the three reasons we can launch a fantastic campaign for a client for hundreds, not thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. These three innovations expanded the ability for companies on small budgets to reach giant audiences. And if we do our job right, they won’t have small budgets for much longer.