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Building your brand equity does not mean that you must advertise at halftime during the Super Bowl, or saturate a large area with TV advertisements, billboards, and glossy magazines. There are many ways to increase brand exposure and enhance your brand’s value proposition which are low cost yet equally if not more powerful than traditional media.
Some of this inexpensive media advertising includes:

  • Community organizations
  • Event sponsorships
  • Direct marketingBrand extensions
  • Co-branding / fusion marketing
  • Trade shows
  • Vending / Outdoor
  • Website
  • Sales presentations

Of course, all of these media must be aligned with your brand image and corporate strategies. Prior to implementing any of these initiatives you must make strategic decisions about what the brand is (or wants to become). You can decrease your marketing expenditures by replacing expensive, blanketed media with a highly targeted below-the-line marketing program.
These marketing activities must also be implemented in a synchronized way. Consumers will respond positively to a brand only if its image is consistent with the media. For example, a billboard featuring Pampers or other diaper brand would be misplaced at a teenage punk rock concert. Coordinated marketing across all media creates a higher return on investment (ROI) and maximizes the value of every dollar spent.
Marketing your brand to community organizations offers an efficient way to expose your brand to target consumer segments. By sampling your coffee or snack product to churches, schools, charities or other non-profit organizations, you can build credibility and trust with these consumers. Once your brand is established in these communities, you can enjoy profitable relationships with female household food buyers and other relevant audiences. The objectives of this type of grass roots brand building are to assemble strong relationships in a selected community and partner with people who have influence with their peers.
Event sponsorship can also build your brand image among a focused consumer segment. If the media covers the event, then there is an opportunity to re-produce images of the event several times in industry trade magazines and on-line websites. In addition to sponsorship, corporations can build their brand simply by organizing an event for shareholders or potential clients. Invitations to targeted prospects for breakfast or lunch can be an effective means of conveying your corporate message and brand principles.
Direct marketing involves pinpointing a niche market for maximum prospect response. Direct mail marketing is an excellent means of test marketing a product prior to a full-scale launch. This method can save valuable resources by determining if the demand warrants the cost of production and marketing. Direct response marketing is usually a post card with a response card attached sent to a focused group of consumers.
Extending your brand with new products offers a low-cost, low-risk approach to increasing sales and segmenting tailor-made products to your target markets. New brands also face a much higher failure rate than brand extensions. However, when extending a brand it is critical to understand the brand’s value proposition, image and potential.
The objective of co-branding or fusion marketing is for two or more brands or companies to advertise together in order to reach a larger audience than either of them could enjoy alone. Yum! Brands has for years enjoyed success by co-branding hundreds of their restaurants with Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC. Costs can also be shared among brand P&Ls. Co-branding generally works well when two or more brands offer a similar value proposition, target like consumer segments, and/or capitalize on the strengths of both organizations.
Other forms of inexpensive media advertising include trade shows, vending and other outdoor advertising, corporate websites and your own sales presentations. The key to building your brand efficiently is harmonization across an integrated marketing mix to create a single brand identity and message. By coordinating all your brand’s marketing initiatives, you will increase your quantifiable return on investment.
–Peter M. Guyer
Peter M. Guyer is the Founder and President of ATHENA MARKETING INTERNATIONAL (, an international marketing, consulting and business development firm serving food and beverage manufacturers. Tel. (206) 749-9255.