January can be such a long month. You may have been paid early in December. You may still be waiting to get paid for January. But it needn't all be bleak. And not being flush needn't be a block to creativity. Far from it.
Being paid early in December is great isn’t it?
It’s less great when you reach around about now. It’s late January, it’s been nearly a month, we spent a fortune on Christmas and for some people it’s still a few days until payday.
Managing budgets is a way of life at home - just as it is at work too.
As enthusiastic communicators who want to do the very best in our roles at all times, a lack of resources can be pretty frustrating. When the pressure’s on to find exciting, cutting edge ways to get our messages across, encouraging, inspiring and influencing our colleagues to ensure business objectives are delivered, the Finance Gods say ‘no chance’.
We’ve heard comments such as…
‘We just can’t afford to be creative!’ and ‘Why is budget always an issue in comms?’
Fortunately, not everything we want to achieve has to carry a huge price tag. In fact, there are ways around the budget predicament; we just need to get smart and think a little differently.
Give some thought to the following free or low-cost suggestions:
Common creative. Creative Commons is a great resource for images, music and videos that can all be sourced online and used in your comms activity. Be sure to read the licence agreements so that you’re aware of how the material can be used. Sites such as Flikr, SoundCloud and YouTube offer access to this material.
Research free or low cost knowledge sharing events. Consider taking managers or colleagues along as part of their personal development journey. Comms2Point0 for example run some fabulous free or low cost events that are packed to the rafters with creative comms experts, bursting with top ideas and inspiration. Here’s a perfect example - . Knowledge sharing can go a long way!
Borrow with pride. If you like something that someone else has produced, don’t be shy, get in touch ask them if you can repurpose the work. There may be other comms being produced that simply needs a few tweaks and it’s ready to rock. Find it, get permission, and give credit where credit is due!
Repeat after me. Implement techniques that have scope for repeat use. Even if there’s an initial outlay, choose a solution that can be used time and time again. A templated approach works wonders for saving time and keeping costs down.
Shoot your own stories. A smart looking video needn’t mean you have to hire costly equipment or employ the services of a full production team. It’s possible to shoot short and professional videos on your own mobile phone for example, and polish them up with brilliant apps like , or . You can even set up analytics to track views and engagement. Capture stories from communities or use for your internal messages.
Discover your goldmine of skills. Do some research into the wealth of knowledge that exists around you before calling in a costly consultant. Did you know that Fiona from finance is a whizz with a camera and Graham from accounts is a graphic facilitation guru? Building and cultivating internal skills is a key responsibility that can also help to save money in the long-term. Make it work for you!
Have less meetings! (or get smarter with the ones you plan/attend) Meetings take time, can be costly affairs and often don’t even accomplish the desired outcome! So try not to drag colleagues around quite so much or even try out a remote meeting. Your time is valuable - too many unnecessary meetings can steal ‘creative thinking’ time.
A little help goes a long way. Ask an agency to ‘kick off’ a project but implement internally or vice versa - get a project ‘almost there’ and then hand it over to a supplier to polish off. Keep the cost down by making it clear that’s all you need.
Do it yourself. Grabbing the opportunity to ‘do it yourself’ can be rewarding. Yes this takes time, that’s always the tricky balance - time vs budget. Look for cost-effective online tools and services such as , , or to spice things up. Try not to get distracted by every shiny new bit of tech that comes along – embrace and enjoy them when you have a moment.
Community and art groups. Brief local community and art groups on how they can get involved in campaigns and initiatives. Not only will they create on your behalf but they will also be engaged in the message that you’re trying to share.
Join groups on social media and engage! LinkedIn groups for example are populated by like-minded comms pros from across the globe that are ready and waiting to share their experiences. Before trying out potentially costly exploratory ideas, run them by a network of people who are likely to have been there and done that.
White label products or rebrand. For example… online games can be a great way to engage an audience. This can be from simple, fun Angry Bird style apps to strategy corporate games. The best way to involve everyone is to get teams to compete against each other by using a league table. There are thousands of free online games out there some even offer rebranding at reasonable rates or the ability to embed the game on your site for free.
You need to be able to continually deliver on business objectives, providing high-level advice whilst engaging employees to be at their best. And a tight budget is only part of the challenge that needs addressing with a creative response.
Creativity doesn’t have to mean expensive implementation and fancy design. Great ideas often come from those who refuse to conform in someway – the inner activist.
So get your creative shizzle on and try out some new ideas!
To help get the juices flowing hop on board with National Doodle Day on 6th February. It’s for a great cause (only £1 per doodle submitted), and you can enjoy some healthy competition at the same time. One not to miss!
We’d love to know how you get on.
Tweet us @Alivewithideas to share all your experiences!