Gini Dietrich

How to Build a Successful Brand Without a Big Budget

By: Gini Dietrich | August 3, 2017 | 

Brand Fans Grow a BusinessOn one day every year, millions of people around the globe stay glued to their TV sets, waiting for the commercial breaks—not to run to the bathroom, but to actually watch them.

I remember being in Denver with friends during the Super Bowl several years ago.

We spent the day on the slopes, with the goal of being back in our hotel room—with snacks—in time to tweet our thoughts on the commercials.

It was both funny and sad.

We didn’t speak to one another during the commercials. We only knew what the others were thinking if we read their tweets.

It was the early days of Twitter and we were all obsessed. I’m fairly certain we wouldn’t do that today.

The ads, though, have become so popular, some start-ups spend most of their year’s marketing budget for a 30-second slot.

This is in the hopes their clever ad will build instant brand fans and catapult them into profitability.

Most brands don’t have five million dollars to spend on a 30 second slot (not to mention what it costs to create said ad).

But that’s OK!

If you take a smart approach with your communications activities, you don’t need it.

Here are four things you can start right now, to build loyal brand fans and the same kind of success you might gain from one very expensive Super Bowl ad.

Publish a Company Blog

Though many are calling the blog dead, there is an argument to be made (this very blog, for instance) that blogging is still extraordinarily effective.

When you publish engaging, authoritative content on a platform you own, such as your website, it is one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to improve your website’s SEO and domain authority.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a traditional blog.

It could be consistently updated with frequently asked questions, media room, or resources.

Publish content that speaks to the unique challenges your ideal customer faces.

Talk to your brand fans and ask them for content input.

This not only speaks directly to those who buy from you, it helps build your thought leadership profile.

This comes in handy when pitching your company and its content to the media.

A journalist is more likely to take a chance on an unknown source who has a number of well-written pieces of content on a topic they can review before agreeing to the interview.


Because the journalist has a limited amount of time and that article gives them a good sense of your point-of-view and ability to provide articulate commentary on the topic.

Build Influencer Relationships Before You Need Them

If you wait to reach out to journalists and other industry influencers until you have something to pitch them, you’re unlikely to be happy with the results.

Instead, identify and prioritize the journalists, industry analysts, bloggers, and other influencers who your customers turn to when making a buying decision.

These are the folks whose content you should read, share, and comment upon.

Get to know your influencers over time so, when you do finally reach out to them, it’s with a tailored pitch that shows you’ve done your homework.

Or, even better, have already built a relationship with and they know who you are.

Engage with Your Community

Too often, brands forget about the social part of social media.

Social media channels aren’t there for you to use as a broadcast channel.

Use social listening to uncover opportunities to converse with your biggest brand fans.

Thank them for their brand shout-outs.

Share their brand-love and user-generated content.

Word-of-mouth continues to grow in its importance in consumer purchase decisions.

Cultivating a vibrant community of engaged brand fans pays off by building your brand reputation far beyond your current customers and your existing advertising efforts.

Not to mention…journalists are often rewarded by pageviews.

Which means, if you have an engaged community who shares your stuff, the more willing they are to work with you.

If you can help them drive pageviews, you will be their hero.

Amplify Your Media Coverage

When you finally get that big media hit, what do you do about?

Yes, you should absolutely share it with your internal team and your customers.

Yes, you absolutely should post it on your website.

Include the publication’s logo on your homepage (just make sure you link to the original article).

But that’s only the starting point of making the most of it.

You can translate that piece of coverage into new social media followers.

It can drive click-throughs to your website if you boost it with small paid social buys.

Allocate as little as $50 per social media channel to share the content where most of your website referral traffic comes from.

If you want more ideas on how to amplify—or repurpose—your content, Moz had a handy little article on it earlier this week.

I recommend reading it and putting it to good use.

Build Brand Fans with Long-Lasting Appeal

Though a Super Bowl ad is over with in 30 seconds, the above outlined activities have longer lasting power.

They do take time. You are, after all, building relationships with human beings.

And, even though the relationships are mostly online, it still takes time to build trust and loyalty.

They also serve the purpose of remaining top-of-mind, longer, in someone’s brain.

For instance, I can remember the Danika Patrick GoDaddy ad, not because I want to buy from them, but because it offended me.

I also remember the puppymonkeybaby because it was super creepy, but I can’t remember who it was for.

(Mountain Dew—I had to look it up.)

Wouldn’t you far prefer to have a strategy that lasts longer, builds loyalty, and creates sustainable revenue than have 30 seconds to show off to the world?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Dawn Buford

    I used to watch the Super Bowl commercials back in Budweiser’s glory days of ‘Bud Bowl’ and ‘Whassup?!’. Quality has gone down in the past 15 years, the field has become crowded with a lot of, for a lack of a better term, crap, and I just don’t care anymore. I do think you can build a really good brand using a blog, or via Twitter. As long as the content is interesting and relevant, people are going to notice and you can build on that.

    • We’ve certainly done it! I was just thinking about the early days of Twitter and how, every Saturday morning, I spent a couple of hours finding 100 people to follow. Ahhhh…those were the days.

  • This resonated on so many levels. Having cut the cable some time ago, I miss out on a lot of the advertising during events like the SuperBowl. Being in Canada doesn’t help either.

    Being a football fan (go Eagles!), I don’t mind one little bit that I don’t see the 30 second spots during the live action, but I do admit to a fair amount of online research after the fact so I can join in on all the social hubbub.

    As a result, I’ll experience those ads through blog posts like these and searches for “best superbowl ads 2018”!

  • Yes, yes, and yes. The logical choice would be to take the time to build relationships. But, and there is a big but here, brands and when I say brands I mean the people behind the logo, prefer the shiny object.

    We, as a society, have become impatient. And this reflects very well in the boardroom, where we want the viral video, SuperBowl ad idea that will instantly bring us fame.

    We need to take our humanity back, become humans again and work to really connect with the people behind a screen.

    It’s not only way cheaper than a SuperBowl ad, but it’s much more fun. You feel good when you make someone’s day by helping them or solving a problem which for you, as a brand, it’s very easy. Why not do more of that?

    • We HAVE become impatient. We expect instant gratification. We’ve forgotten that overnight success takes 10+ years.

  • BUT I WANT TO STAR IN A SUPER BOWL AD!! Stop crushing my dreams

  • Howie Goldfarb

    These are great tips but I wanted to flesh out the social media/reach/broadcast section. I do feel social needs to be looked at as a dual broadcast/social platform not because broadcast fits…but because people consume 100 pieces of comment per 1 action they take. So I have come to view the broadcast piece as valuable as long as I know the real view numbers. I’m ok having 500 views and 5 likes of a content piece.

    I dont know why people don’t Like more content on facebook that they see. Last week VPR had a show on bees/beekeeping the host has hives and she posted video from them on Facebook. I saw 50 views and 2 Likes. And not sure why there wasn’t 25+ considering how easy it is to click Like, But been studying motivation in the space for 8 years now.

    But the ones that do regularly should be the top of your influencer list no matter who they are or the size of their network. Easiest way to make a list.