Oct 05 | 4 minutes read

Why You Need to “Get Scrappy” with Your Digital Marketing

Ever heard about "scrappy marketing"? We asked returning #EME2016 speaker Nick Westergaard to introduce it in his own words - scroll to find out why brains matter more than budget, how cloud-computing and Valentine's Day can be a good match and much more!



It is an overwhelming time to be in marketing. Each day we wake up and are distracted by all of the shiny new things coming at us. There are nearly 1.6 billion people on Facebook. Snapchat has 150 million daily active users. An excited mom in a Chewbacca mask can post a Facebook live video and dominate news cycles online and off. 

It’s hard to know where to start as a marketer. It’s easy to just bounce from network to network, setting up presences everywhere for your brand, creating and sharing every new form of content. But this is neither efficient nor effective. As marketing continues to change at a breakneck pace, few have the resources to be this unfocused with their marketing. 

You need to be smart. You need to get scrappy. 

If you’re asking, “What is scrappy?” — let’s start with what scrappy isn’t. Scrappy isn’t marketing small. Scrappy isn’t marketing on the cheap. And, most importantly, scrappy isn’t dumbing down your marketing.

My favorite definition comes from the website Urban Dictionary, which defines scrappy as describing “someone or something that appears dwarfed by a challenge, but more than compensates for seeming inadequacies through will, persistence, and heart.”

In short, anyone can get scrappy. It doesn’t matter if you’re B2B, B2C, non-profit, or government. The local plumber who does its own marketing can benefit from getting scrappy just as much as a marketer in a larger organization. As Samantha Hersil, who leads digital marketing at Schwinn Bikes, told me, “We all wish that we had a few people and a few dollars more.” We all face the same hurdles that can be overcome with will, persistence, and heart.

Scrappy is doing more with less. Scrappy is a spirit determined to simplify marketing in today’s complex digital world. Scrappy is thinking like an underdog (even if you aren’t) with a winning and determined mindset.

Let’s explore the Scrappy mindset a little further.

Brains Before Budget — When you start to think about personnel, tools, and technology, digital marketing can get real expensive real fast. Remember, getting scrappy is more than just being cheap. It's about getting smart first so you can do more with less, putting your brains before your budget.

Faced with all of these shiny new things, too many marketers skip strategy. Before you rush to plant the flag on a new social network, ask yourself, what is it you’re trying to accomplish? What’s your business objective?

Market Like a Mousetrap — As the saying goes, "no one’s ever bothered to build a better mousetrap.” That’s because the mousetrap is both effective and efficient. Like the mousetrap, to get scrappy with your marketing, you have to be both effective and efficient. To be effective, your objective has to be clearly defined first (the trap’s objective is pretty obvious) so that you know when the job is done (snap!).

Efficiency provides the best construct for a more scrappy relationship with money. Being efficient is more than just being cheap. You’ve still met your desired objective. You’ve just done so with minimal expense.

See Ideas Everywhere — Stay open to ideas from outside your industry. “Nope. That’s a B2C idea. We’re B2B. That won’t work here.” Or perhaps, "That’s too business-y. We’re a non-profit and things are so different for us." Many times you can have an even greater impact because it’s an approach that’s not often taken in your industry. For instance, a cloud-computing company once developed an app that allowed fans to create custom Valentine’s Day e-cards to share via social media. Wait! Isn’t Valentine’s Day a consumer-focused holiday? Isn’t cloud-computing a B2B industry? Maybe, but they had some fun and stood out in a big way by daring to think beyond their own sector stereotypes.

Technology is moving too fast for you to be confined by the ideas in your industry. To stay ahead, you have to learn to collect insights and ideas from beyond your specific niche and industry.

To get scrappy with your marketing you need to remember to (1) put your brains before your budget, (2) market like a mousetrap, and (3) see ideas everywhere. Then and only then can you start doing more with less. More isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s just more. By embracing this mindset, you can get scrappy with your marketing as others are already doing—at organizations big and small.

Nick Westergaard is Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, where he helps build better brands at organizations of all sizes — from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies to the President’s Jobs Council. He’s also the author of Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. An in-demand speaker at conferences throughout the world, he also teaches branding and marketing at the University of Iowa and hosts the popular On Brand podcast.