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Don’t Blame The B Word: 4 ways to get a BIG Bang on your Limited Innovation Budget

Don’t Blame The B Word: 4 ways to get a BIG Bang on your Limited Innovation Budget

Let’s face it.

In today’s crazy economy, who isn’t trying to innovate on a budget?

And I’m okay with that.

Being fiscally responsible just makes good business sense.

What I’m less okay with is a mindset that I see running rampant throughout organizations large and small…

A mindset that is fast becoming an excuse for not innovating at all.

A mindset that I like to call…

Blaming the B Word

Now let me be clear.

I’m not saying that budgets aren’t important or that all BIG ideas need to come equipped with oversized budgets.

What I am saying is…

Toni Newman - Newmanism #16

What I’m saying is that it is possible to create low-budget, innovative experiences that can and will get the results that you want and need for your business.

So today I’d like to share 4 proven strategies for creating innovative low-budget customer experiences that actually get results.

Strategy #1: Use what you have

Toni Newman Budget

Belgian agency Samusocial International wanted to use a text message campaign to raise funds to help shelter the homeless during a winter cold spell,

But with no communication or media budget, they had to find a cheap way to spread the word and to persuade people to donate with their phone.

So instead of focusing on what they didn’t have – money to buy a share of voice – they focused on what they did have – the voices of the homeless themselves.

They had several homeless record their own personal voice messages – message that were deliberately designed to raise awareness of the initiative and influence the mindsets and behaviors they needed to accomplish their goal.

Messages like…

‘Hello – the person you are trying to reach
can’t answer your call but you can answer mine.
My name is Chantale and I am homeless.”

The message went on to explain that the caller could help by simply texting the word ‘donate’ to the number provided.”

Toni Newman Budget

Customers of Belgium’s 4 largest phone operators were given the option to replace their own voice mails with those of the homeless.

Almost overnight, the concept went viral.

Radio, press, TV and dozens of websites picked up the story providing a ton of free publicity for the initiative.

Within 4 days, over $42,000 was raised and shelter was provided for 800 people per night during the coldest time of the year at virtually no cost to Samusocial.

So, the next time that you find yourself worrying about how to innovate on a budget, flip the script and instead of focusing on what resources you don’t have, ask yourself what resources you do have?

What do you have that no one else has?

What do you have at your disposal that you could repurpose, reuse or reimagine so that you can maximize the return on your limited innovation investment?

Strategy #2: Stake Your Claim

Toni Newman Budget

In today’s world of mergers and acquisitions, sometimes it can feel like both the competition and their budgets are getting bigger every day.

How can you possibly compete?

That’s where the Stake your Claim strategy comes in.

Stake your Claim is about identifying a specific and strategic pain point in the customer journey and then dedicating whatever resources you have to creating a strategically innovative solution for that particular problem.

A solution that will not only differentiate you from your competition and will also make you a hero in the eyes of your customers.

A great example of this strategy comes from folks at Red Tomato pizza in Dubai.

Faced with high budget advertising and popular “value deals” offered by an influx of multinational competition, Red Tomato wanted to find an innovative and yet cost-effective way to make the pizza ordering decision about more than price and toppings.

Knowing that on the one hand pizza home delivery was incredibly popular in Dubai but that on the other the over 200 languages spoken by customers made the delivery ordering process a nightmare, Red Tomato set out to Stake their claim and change the game.

The Solution was their VIP Push For Hunger fridge magnet.

Toni Newman Budget

Loyal customers received the magnet nestled in the middle of their pizza order and were encouraged to activate the service by connecting online and registering their favorite pizza order.

The next time they had a pizza craving, no phone order was required. A press of the VIP button and in no time at all, their piping hot pizza order arrived at their door.

No language issues. No stress. No nightmare.

In just 4 weeks, the magnet got over 12,000 mentions on social media and received over $8 million in free media.

On a total marketing budget of only $9,000, deliveries increased by 500%.

Red Tomato Pizza received over 3,000 requests from existing customers and 97,000 requests from new customers.

Now that’s what I call a great return on a limited innovation investment.

So, ask yourself…

Where are the nightmares for your customers?

What priceless opportunities are lying hidden in your customers’ journey just waiting for you to Stake your Claim and Change the game.

Strategy #3: Partner up

Toni Newman Budget

Most of the time, we are so focused on finding innovative ideas that fit within our budget, we neglect to put any creative energy into finding innovative ways to expand our budget.

With the Partner Up strategy, the idea is to pool your resources with another business and then come up with an innovative idea that can take both of you to the bank.

Case in point…

When a small fitness center in the Ukraine was looking for more clients, they partnered with a local bakery who was also looking to drive more customers, more revenue and more growth in their business.

Together they pooled their resources and created FIT BUNS – branded healthy buns that included a coupon for a free visit to the fitness center in every box.

Toni Newman Budget


In the first month, they sold 2996 packs of buns. 658 people came for the fitness center a trial session, 217 purchased membership cards and the overall number of fitness center clients increased by 25%.

In total, Fit Buns generated over 100% return on innovation investment for both the fitness center and the bakery.

How could your business Partner Up?

Who else wants to reach the same target market you do but for different reasons?

Where could find a partner who would invest in an idea that could take both of you to the bank?

Strategy #4 : SOCIALize

Toni Newman Budget

In today’s connected world, small ideas can have a huge impact IF you can harness the power of social buzz.

So when resources are limited, why not just start with social?

When Amnesty International had zero budget to remind the public of the power of adding their signature to a petition, they set up a micro-site where people could say no to injustice by turning their signature into barbed-wire.

Visitors could then share their signature on social media and invite their friends to do the same.

This small idea was part of a simple campaign that resulted in more than 10,000 signatures.

Donations increased by 29% compared to the same period the year before.

So, when faced with a limited innovation budget, think about how you can SOCIALize a small idea into a big impact on the success of your business.

(Now, I would be crazy not to remind you to use the Five ‘S’ Solution to create, validate and accelerate the success of your innovation initiatives – regardless of the size of your budget. Need a Five S refresher? You can check them out here.

We want to hear from you so please leave a comment…

What is the most innovative thing that you’ve ever done on a limited budget for your business?

How will you take action on one of these strategies TODAY so that you can drive more customers, more revenue and more growth in your business?

Feel free to share as much detail as you would like because the more you share, the more we know, and the more we all know, the more we all grow.

Until next time, Imagine the Possibilities!

Toni Newman

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