Alternative marketing thinking


Ideas. More Powerful Than Big Budgets

UK clothing brand Howies, like Method (The US-based home care specialist) and Innocent (A range of smoothies that’s making a name for itself in UK and parts of Europe) is a “planners” brand. In the sense that people, account planners mostly, who are at the cutting edge of marketing thinking often talk about these brands as showing others the future of marketing and branding. Howies founder Dave Hieatt wrote an interesting post on the company’s website about the challenges of marketing and brand building in a downturn and his belief that it is ideas that will eventually win. Good times or bad. Featured below his post in full.

The power of ideas
The reality of business is sometimes you have less money to play with than you would like. And when things get a bit tight, the first thing that ‘gets it’ is your marketing budget. The debate on whether marketing is an investment or a cost depends on your view of the world. But rather than moan and groan about what you have or don’t have, it should be viewed as opportunity. Sometimes, having a budget lets you hide the fact you don’t have an idea. So right now for us at Howies things are a bit tight, we no longer have money to do a shop vinyl window each month for The Carnaby Store. We can’t afford to do what everyone else does: Shop vinyls. From today, we can only afford to be different.

Our shop windows will now be homemade, very simple, and more Howies than what we have down before. We have had to cancel our brand booklet that we were going to put in to the Sunday papers. This should be viewed as an opportunity. I have spoken to everyone in product design this week, and told them that our product will have to become so good that it becomes our marketing.

We have to make it so well, so different, so insightful, bring ideas to the table that have not been thought of. That way our customer can tell his and her mates about us. The product team have a lot of pressure on their shoulders. And rightly so, they put the food on the table for everyone here. But we will applaud their mistakes and mess-ups as that is what happens when you try to be different.

We have a great idea in Royaltee. It is like the Youtube of T-shirts. It’s a place where you can upload T-shirt designs, and every time you sell a T-shirt, you will get paid a Royaltee. The site is almost finished but we dont have budget to make it all seamless with our site. You know, the techy stuff. This should be viewed as an opportunity. Maybe we should ask you, our customer, to help us get Royaltee out there. Maybe, we can put it our there even before it is ready to do a Beta test. Maybe you can help build it, shape it, perfect it. I think that would be exciting. And you might make it work better than we ever could.

And right now, we are opening a small factory shop in Cardigan that we do not have budget for. Again, this should be viewed as opportunity. So the walls have been wallpapered with old cardboard boxes from our warehouse. One table has come from Clare’s and my office. The other wood is stuff we bought for the Bristol shop and which was just being stored in our barn. The shop window will be hand-drawn by Toby and Jill. No doubt with some guiding help from our Pete, Teri and Aron. The paint is from stuff left over from doing the office 3 years ago. The tools used to build the shop have been lent to Howies by Chris C, Chris V, Ades and me. But the energy has come from everyone. ( It’s the best bit of Howies for me.) The look of the shop will come from having no or little budget and it will be all the better for the constraints. Given the choice of choosing between having a budget or having an idea, I would choose having an idea. Every time.


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