Chris Moerdyk
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Chris Moerdyk
Marketing Tips

How to make marketing budgets go further

Not having enough budget is something that frustrates every marketer these days. But, there is a solution to not only making a budget stretch but actually getting more money into the marketing kitty without having to beg the boss or the board for it.
What I use is a process called Zero Budget Departure which I developed when I was working for BMW back in the early 1990's during a time when my department was given a lot to do but with annual budgets that tended to run out two thirds of the way through the year if we were lucky.

There are two ways of applying this process.

Zero Budget Departure is a mouthful, but there is no better way of describing it. Firstly, it is a question of changing one's mindset about the way one applies marketing strategy. Instead of looking at a budget and developing strategies to fall within the confines of that budget, one needs to start the process by assuming that you have very little or no budget at all.

Here's an example. Back in 1991 when BMW wanted to promote the fact that its entry level 318 model came equipped with power steering, its ad agency TBWA Hunt Lascaris, came up with the great idea of having a little mouse run along a steering wheel. Problem was that there wasn't actually enough budget to run to a TV commercial and even if it could be produced cheaply there would be no money to actually flight the ad.
But, before the idea was kicked into touch and abandoned through lack of funds, which is what happens a lot with great ideas, Zero Budget Departure was applied by looking at how an ad of this nature could be leveraged. The BMW PR department got working on it and started promoting the ad and lining up previews. The result was that while there was only enough budget to run the ad three times on TV, it was in fact featured 106 times in total in SA TV on news and lifestyle shows. 103 of those were completely free of charge.

This is just one of many examples of how Zero Budget Departure can be applied to make small budgets a lot bigger.

But, it is also possible to use Zero Budget Departure to actually create more budget. This can be done by dual branding or doing something in conjunction with a brand that is not competitive but which targets exactly the same market segment. There are many other examples.

There is also a wonderful case history of a marketing department that used the psychology of Zero Budget Departure to get the company's technical department to actually pay for a marketing launch. Now that's not bad - getting the job done without spending a cent. The trick is to find what value someone else can get out of what you as a marketer want to do.

It is quite remarkable how often brand and product managers as well as marketing directors tell me that they can't think of any way in which they can leverage, increase or make their budgets go any further.

But, as soon as they grasp the principle (it's a bit like the Rubik's Cube puzzle - a lot easier once you have worked out the system) and they start brainstorming ideas, it is amazing how much can be achieved.

And of course, for the benefit of the company bean counters, the very foundation of Zero Budget Departure is return on investment.
1 Mar 2007 11:31


About Chris Moerdyk

Apart from being a corporate marketing analyst, advisor and media commentator, Chris Moerdyk is a former chairman of Bizcommunity. He was head of strategic planning and public affairs for BMW South Africa and spent 16 years in the creative and client service departments of ad agencies, ending up as resident director of Lindsay Smithers-FCB in KwaZulu-Natal. Email Chris on moc.liamg@ckydreom and follow him on Twitter at @chrismoerdyk.