Marketing Lesson from Despicable Me: Make a Big Impact with a Modest Budget

Think it is impossible to achieve success on a small budget? The creators of the blockbuster 3-D animation movie “Despicable Me” would claim otherwise. With the first film and its sequel receiving generally positive reviews from critics and moviegoers globally, it is no wonder that it became one of Universal’s most profitable movies ever. Discover what marketing lesson they showed don the film.

They know how to win the box office without breaking the bank.

The 2 Despicable Mes was produced by Illumination Entertainment. It’s an animation company founded by Chris Meledandri, former Fox Animation president. With a whopping $543 million worldwide box office haul and Gru’s adorable yellow Minions [still] taking the world by storm, it is hard to believe that the first and second film was made on a modest budget of $69million and $76 million respectively. Also, it is an animated film (anyone in the industry would know how expensive special-effects-laden films can be)! Now we’re talking about real profit — a marketing lesson, right?

While other rival animated films like Toy Story, Turbo, and The Croods cranked out on pricey productions, Illumination contained costs while staying competitive. They opted for fewer expensive stars, less expensive animators, and first-time directors. Also, they eliminated visual details (like skipping furs) that the audience often really can’t see on screen. They even used matte paintings for backgrounds instead of the more expensive CGIs. Universal Pictures also capped the marketing costs by relying heavily on the studio’s corporate siblings for cross-promotions.

So what can we learn from all this?

Simple. It’s about selecting ideas that would work within your budget and it applies to any genre (not just movie-making). Meledandri’s forte, which is probably part of the “playbook” he learned at Fox, was how to make good things on a modest budget. All marketers should learn how to follow suit.

Every year, big companies invest millions of dollars in market research and advertising in an attempt to find out what makes their customers tick and eventually stick to their brand. What about those small business owners who can’t afford such a high level of investment? All you need is a spark of creativity. No big budget doesn’t mean you can’t make a big impact nor settling for dull and unimaginative advertising solutions.

So how do you actually advertise and drive new sales at a relatively low cost? Consider these 3 Strategies:

  1. Blog your Way to Success – If you think blogging is just for writers or those people who love to brag about their traveling experiences or the food they eat, its time you change your view. Blogging helps you validate your expertise and can further help establish yourself as an authority in your industry. Blogging also helps build rapport and engagement. If you have information that you think can be valuable for your audience or if you encounter frequently asked questions that need answers, blog about it! Once you have gained a following, you can easily find opportunities to monetize

Tip: Not confident about your writing style? You can consider hiring a blogger.

  1. Turn to Social Sites – You’ve seen the boom of social media platforms. You’ve also probably heard or come across social media marketing. We’re an early adopter of using social media (Facebook, in particular) for business, and doing so had helped us gather solid fans and clients. You can also do so. Social media is a great way to reach out to a possible client base, to listen to your customers, and to expose your company and brand all these for FREE! All you need is that (again) spark of creativity to cleverly communicate your value proposition to your audience.
  2. Exciting Giveaways – Think only those corporate giants can map out great giveaways to promote their brand? You can, too, even on a tight budget. Think of cool and valuable promo items like reusable bags, personalized mouse pads, notebooks, shirts, umbrella, care packages, or a nice iPhone or iPad case. There are lots of affordable giveaways that you can think of even if your funds are limited, just think out of the box

If you are among the many small business owners struggling to find low-cost marketing ploys to make a big impact, don’t give up. All you need is a bit of creativity, simplicity, and passion to produce something exceptional. If you need more inspiration and a marketing lesson, just rewatch the film. Make Despicable Me an inspiration.