‘Small-Budget Fallacy’ Hurts Marketing Effectiveness
Marketers often adhere to a “small-budget fallacy” which causes them to ignore the core principles of effectiveness when building out strategies, according to research presented at Lions Live.
James Hurman, the founder of innovation company Previously Unavailable and small-business marketing platform Storytech, discussed this topic at Lions Live, an online conference held by Cannes Lions, a sister brand of WARC.
And he acknowledged that marketers face resource challenges that mean they must drive returns on smaller budgets. “Particularly across the last five years, campaign budgets have been significantly reduced,” Hurman said.
Rather than leaning on established best practices, however, “We are succumbing to a ‘small-budget fallacy’ that is leading us to inadvertently make decisions that reduce the effectiveness of our work,” he added. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How a “small-budget fallacy” is damaging marketing effectiveness for many campaigns.)
Hurman’s analysis was premised on the The Effectiveness Code, a study undertaken with marketing consultant Peter Field based on thousands of case studies from Cannes Lions, WARC and the IPA Effectiveness Databank.
And he explained that small-budget campaigns usually draw on a series of false assumptions, including the idea that using fewer media channels will maximise effectiveness, and that shorter campaigns will have a greater impact.
Marketers, similarly, erroneously presume that newer digital tactics represent the best approach for brands on a limited budget – a perspective countered by analysis of thousands of case studies from WARC.
“Channels like content marketing, social media, influencer marketing, or online display are among the media more likely to create an effectiveness disadvantage,” Hurman said.
“And some of those more traditional channels – like TV, PR, events or [direct mail] – are the ones creating an effectiveness advantage.”
Just as damaging is the widespread – and, again, flawed – misconception that rational approaches are preferable to tapping emotion when brands have limited resources.
“Digging into that data, we see that smaller-budget campaigns are more likely to choose more rational, informational, educative and advocacy-based strategies, and less likely to use more effective strategies like storytelling and humour,” Hurman said