Prolific North Win Shows Marketing Budget Needn’t be Huge

October 24th, 2023

Prolific North Win Shows Marketing Budget Needn’t be Huge

Catapult PR took home another trophy on October 12, achieving another win at the Prolific North Marketing Awards. These awards recognise all types of marketing campaign, from all size of agency and in-house team, right across the north.  Winning is big news. This year, we won the Best Small Budget Campaign Award – the one that rewards a brilliant use of a small marketing budget.

To set the scene, the campaign was also shortlisted in two other categories – ones in which it was a more natural fit for something very niche – a PR campaign for a historic home and garden’s topiary garden. But with very many large agencies shortlisted, our chances were slim. The winning campaigns in these more likely categories were actually for huge theme park, Alton Towers, and for the Peter Tatchell Foundation (LGBT rights linked to the Qatar World Cup). We can’t even begin to imagine the budget available for these campaigns.

Small budget PR Campaign winners

But then we won the Best Small Budget category – a real shock. We were up against 9 other agencies, plus campaigns for brands such as Swizzels and Holland’s Pies. In a few categories, there had been Highly Commended awards granted. There was no announcement of a Highly Commended accolade in this category, so I had failed to see how our tourism and culture campaign could possibly win the one overall award, given the modest marketing budget and the fact one person worked on it. I touched my Guns N’ Roses necklace, channelled my inner Axl Rose (as I put it when I want to have creativity and dedication to one’s craft win the day, against all odds), and asked for some Axl intervention via telepathy from the USA! It worked! I had to suddenly uproot myself from my chair and head to the stage to collect the award!

So what does this say about marketing budget?

This really demonstrates how much can be done with relatively little marketing budget, if great ideas are included and a lot of effort is put into the campaign. Size isn’t everything and I suspect the ‘small budget’ for most of the campaigns we were up against in this category far exceeded ours. I don’t recall what the limit was – maybe £50k. Catapult’s weighed in at way less than that. In fact, a judge tracked me down in the car park, to say how impressed he had been with the campaign and how much had been achieved with so little!

The lesson here is that success is not intrinsically linked to expenditure.  You do not have to overspend, whether that’s on fees or other costs. How many times, for instance, have we seen a celebrity wheeled out for a campaign, for a huge five figure or more sum, only for the campaign to be a damp squib, as it has no substance and zero creativity? What ‘extras’ are clients paying for that would be included if they used Catapult PR?

But similarly, how much money is wasted because clients with modest marketing budgets do use smaller agencies but pick or stick with ones that do not deliver a return on investment? Too many are pouring their money down the drain, by making the wrong agency appointment decisions.

Tips for anyone thinking about their PR, content marketing and copywriting in 2024 are as follows.

Choosing and managing a marketing agency

• Analyse what return on investment you are receiving, if you are currently using an agency

• Consider whether what you ask of your agency is actually too little

• Are you putting your trust in an agency just because they are a friend or a distant relative? How much are they really adding to your business?

• Dig out the invoices for the past year and see where other costs might have crept in, such as mileage, train travel, subsidence, press cuttings charges and so on

• If not currently using an agency, choose one wisely. Make sure your agency has relevant experience in your field and understands the media or consumer/business audience landscape, or is able to write about your topic in a passionate (but compliant!) way.

• If looking for a new agency, be firm when asking who would handle your account day-to-day and find out what assurances will be in place to ensure that happens. Once you know who it would be, find out what experience they have got in your field.

• What real credentials does the agency have? Is there any real evidence of successful campaigns or just fairly mediocre and ‘standard’ ones. Remember that a testimonial alone may be meaningless because the expectations of the person providing it may not be the same as yours. They could also be best friends with someone at the agency!

• Even if the agency has won accolades, who actually won those? Are the people who worked on those campaigns still there?

• Remember it’s not enough for someone to have worked at a big-name agency. The bigger the agency, the more their contribution can be hidden within the ‘collective’ effort.

• Whatever you do, be prepared to put something into the relationship and campaign. Don’t choose a great agency and then provide them with no supporting material, photography, testimonials or other collateral. How can you expect them to operate with their hands tied in this way?

• Similarly, don’t put the day-to-day relationship with an agency in the hands of someone who does not action anything, or who does not feed back to you what’s happening, because they’ve lost half of it in their in-box (it happens).

Other tips for managing your PR and content agency

Beware putting another ‘marketing’ consultant in charge of the relationship. Vested interest and protecting one’s own back and earnings are, unfortunately, the almost inevitable outcome from such an arrangement. An ‘appointed’ person can feel threatened, see spend being diverted from their ‘pot’, or fear being exposed for their own lack of performance. Deal with your agency direct and see the real picture for yourself. You do not need someone ‘filtering’ everything, to try to make themselves look good, as they could actually be harming the campaign.

Follow these rules and you might find support that will help your campaign fly. If you want to put that mission in the hands of the Prolific North Marketing Award Best Small Budget Campaign 2023 award winner, and really want to maximise your marketing budget, please email or call 0333 2424062 to arrange a chat.

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