The marketing and advertising industry often seems glamorous to those external to it. You can be creative without boundaries. Ideas are your currency. Many people don’t understand however, that in marketing, everything is a trade-off.

Businesses don’t have never-ending pools of money for marketing. In-fact, marketing often comes way down the list under ensuring the office has enough coffee, tea and biscuits. Because of that lovely thing called a budget, there is always a ‘cap’ on what evolves from a great idea.

So how do you devise a way to balance money and effectiveness? How do you use your budget to achieve maximum results? This is a challenge that marketing and advertising people face each day. Sometimes a great idea is only as good as who gets to see it.

The only real answer is forward planning and research:
• Plan your budget over a year, and organise the priorities.
• Always leave an amount as a contingency; a ‘just in case’ fund.
• Find a media mix based on the highest possible target market penetration levels, not based on what is cheapest.
• Think outside the box; some of the most effective tools are those that don’t cost a cent.
• Be a member of your target market for a day, or at least talk to one. Are there other channels you can use? Do they hire DVDs? Do they have pets? Do they drink coffee?

Luckily, there are agencies like us who do this everyday. We trade creativity for effectiveness, penetration levels for money, and media for production, day in, day out.

Like all of us though, we secretly dream of a world without budgets.