Opinion: How to communicate maximally on lean budget

You have a million naira or less to publicise your product or service, should you perish the thought because the budget is too little to make an impact? No. There is no amount of money that is too low for communication. It is true that the impact and result may be low, but if effectively deployed, some good result can be achieved.

But, how can you ensure that your low budget is not a waste when used in communication? The full details cannot be given here but we can draw your attention to some salient issues.

Many circumstances may make you have a low budget to communicate your products and services:

  • Recession – the economy could be down as is the case in Nigeria now.
  • Low patronage – your products and services may not be getting adequate patronage.
  • Company policy – the company may have a policy never to spend much on communication.
  • Size of business – the business may be too small to warrant heavy spending on communication.
  • Age of business – the business may have been around for too long that the promoters may deem it unnecessary to spend much on communication.
  • Focus of business – the business may focus on a niche that it may deem it unnecessary to spend much on communication.

Advertising is not cheap. A full-page colour advert in a national newspaper is about N600,000.00. An outdoor board (unipole/spectacular) costs as much as N40m per annum to rent. This does not include the cost of production. A 60-second TV commercial costs over N300,000 (zonal) and N700,000 (national) on prime time TV. It will cost you several millions of naira to produce a TV commercial. And for such commercial to make an impact, it has to be run several times a day for several weeks or months.

Advertising works best when the budget is high. It is a common saying that 50 per cent of advertising money goes down the drain. If you decide to cut your advertising budget by half so as to save the half that would be wasted, then you end up having a quarter effect from your advertising, because half of the half will still be lost. Advertising messages are seen as intrusive by audiences. They, therefore, need to be repeated frequently over a period of time to be noticed. Some people need to see an advert 10 times before they pay attention to it or before they understand what its message is.

Except you are running an advert for a select group of people who are eagerly waiting and searching for your advert, like job hunters, you may need to run many insertions for your message to be noticed and reacted to. If you are selling an FMCG (fast-moving consumer good), it becomes more futile to run adverts on radio or TV on a low budget. It is like a drop in the ocean, or like pouring a bag of salt in a river to make it salty. Your hard-earned money will vanish without any impact.

Public relations will be more beneficial to a business with a small budget. The good thing about PR is that it is subtle and comes from a third party rather than from the brand promoter. It, therefore, is more believable. A good PR consultancy could use its existing goodwill to make your low budget work beyond its capacity and size. A well-groomed PR consultant will also advise you on how to create news that will make you and your brand easily written about and discussed in the media.

Word-of-mouth advertising could be natural or precipitated. But whatever the case, for it to be sustained and effective, the product or service must be of uncontestable quality. It may also be uniquely different. Nothing helps the popularity of a product or service like positive word-of-mouth, because it is seen as true. Good news is usually no news, but if good news has to travel fast, it has to be unique and exciting.

If your brand is not for the mass market (everybody), if your brand is patronised by a select group – a niche market – then there is no need of wasting your money talking to everybody through advertising. Such a brand, especially if it is intricate and requires to be explained and demonstrated, is better promoted to each prospect or a group of prospects through channels which will most appeal to them.

The online platform is virtually taking over our lives. Products and services are now easily bought and sold on the internet. There are fears that the physical market as well as the traditional media may be rendered obsolete in future. The young men and women of today live their lives virtually on the internet. They get their news on the internet. They chat online. They even create their own news stories and share such online, unlike in the past when news was only reserved for the traditional news channels to originate.

Happily, every form of communication that takes place via the traditional media is possible on the internet. Therefore, advertising, public relations, direct marketing are done these days on the internet. If well managed, internet communication is cheaper than communicating through the mainstream media. The reason is that internet communication is better targeted at the audience and is easier to measure.

Internet communication is the present as well as the future way to communicate. But the traditional way of communicating through the mainstream media channels is still being used, because people still get their news from the newspapers, television and radio.

Low budget is not an excuse not to communicate. A lean budget can achieve relatively good impact if the right form of communication is adopted and strategically deployed. Discuss your plans with a communications consultant, so that the most appropriate communication form or mix is utilised to maximum advantage.Punch

–Twitter @BrandAzuka

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