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How chihuahuas maximize small budgets

June 20, 2016

by Lisa Bednarski of LABWORK™ Creative Strategies

You see it at the dog park all the time — small dogs acting bigger than they are, barking so loudly and so consistently that the other dogs believe they are big too. And when it happens it is something to behold, in the dog park and in the communications world.

Many organizations with smaller budgets look enviously at what the ‘big dogs’ are doing and lament that it’s not achievable for them because they simply don’t have the same resources. But that’s not necessarily true. 

I’ve judged industry awards at the national and international level for well over a decade and one entry years ago — a small furniture company on Vancouver Island — stands out in my memory. Its annual communications budget was $10,000 yet that money worked harder for that small company than budgets 10x the size did for other organizations. The reason? Every single tactic was tied back to an over-arching creative strategy with a focused objective, well-defined target and consistent message delivered with every execution. That tiny company made an investment in discipline and rigor that paid dividends for them.

It sounds easy yet so many organizations with smaller budgets don’t go through that process and end up executing a hodgepodge of one-off ideas that don’t ladder up to a strategic framework and thus don’t tell a cohesive story about their organization. There’s more that can be done here than can be covered in one blog post, but here are a few tips on how organizations can leverage creative strategy to help maximize efforts and resources:

  • Don’t even think of brainstorming new ideas and initiatives unless and until you have a creative strategy nailed down. This will ensure a focused approach to ideation and will get your team to smart creative ideas that are aligned against your organization’s business and communications objectives
  • The creative strategy should start with the organizational business objective and all other objectives should fall out of it. This will help the department (even if it’s a department of one) make choices about which initiatives it makes sense to start/keep/stop supporting
  • Drill down a very specific target audience against the objectives. Trying to reach everyone with a limited budget will dilute the message. Instead, be really loud with one group rather than a whisper amongst the masses.
  • Through the year, don’t try and tag on a partner message to an initiative be it a sponsor, spokesperson or another department. Stay focused on your communications objectives then look for common ground with theirs and develop ideas that have mutual benefit and maximum impact

These are just a few helpful tips on how to leverage creative strategy to maximize a small communications budget. It’s all about getting more bang for your bark.


Lisa Bednarski is the founder and principal of LABWORK™ Creative Strategies. Whether it’s an organization without the budget to support a formal agency relationship looking to inject fresh thinking into program planning — from brainstorming to fully-integrated programming — or an agency juggling multiple new business pitches, vacations or mat leaves, LABWORK™ Creative Strategies offers scalable, flexible solutions based on 20+ years’ experience delivering results in situations just like these.


This blog post was sourced from Lisa Bednarski at LABWORK™ Creative Strategies. Learn about them or read more posts online!