If you don’t have time to read this whole article, here’s the most important takeaway: don’t spend your entire budget on the equivalent of a Super Bowl commercial. While this may be a viable strategy for a big international brand, it’s rarely a good idea for most companies.

Let’s back up for a minute. Our agency has been around for over three decades, so, in the sharp-witted words of Farmers Insurance spokesperson J.K. Simmons, ‘we know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.’ Kidding aside, it never ceases to amaze me how many companies we have talked to over the years that are initiating an agency review because they gambled on a big splash idea that failed to produce the results they hoped for. Sometimes it’s a case of a new marketing manager trying to make a name for themselves, and in the process ends up reverse engineering the majority of their marketing budget around one big splash. Other times it’s the case of bad advice from a previous agency who’s looking to win the next new shiny award at the expense of the client’s best interest. Or it could be a clever media salesperson who manages to successfully pitch an all-inclusive campaign in their publication or on their station. Whatever the case, there’s no substitute for doing the proper research and planning before doing any creative ideation or budget allocations.

It’s tempting, but don’t give in

It can be tempting to give in to the idea of making a big splash. Maybe your competitors are all bigger than you, and you feel like doing it can give people the impression you are on their level. The key is to take a breath and not cave in to pressure or excitement. In our agency, we live by the RPIE (research, planning, implementation and evaluation) process. When you give in to the temptation of the big splash idea, you’re basically skipping the first two steps in the RPIE process and going straight into the implementation phase focusing on one big thing. It’s sort of like building a house without a blueprint and the proper permits. And by the way, the house in this example has this one incredible room that took most of the budget so there wasn’t much left for other essential rooms that you really need to live your life fully.

An integrated plan is the way to go

In the early stages of developing a marketing plan, it’s best to assess each strategic area individually (advertising, public relations, digital communications, etc.), and determine their level of importance in contributing to the objectives, and then assign percentage allocations of the budget accordingly. After that, you can look at each individual area and develop strategies and tactics within the parameters of a budget allocation. Remember, within reason, and with the right resources and planning, it’s possible to scale projects and programs and not sacrifice effectiveness.

If you’ve been tempted to go with a ‘big splash’ marketing approach, but your better judgment is telling you it’s not a good idea and you need some advice, we might be able to help. Why not give us a call? We’d love to talk to you.

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