Worse than a shoestring budget

I’ve met some interesting people on Linked In this week. My “Surf Director” title at Pineapple Hill has led to some really fun exchanges, many of which had nothing to do with surfing, banana trees, or cows.

I met a guy for coffee to discuss his interest in revitalizing a blues club he owned and eventually having a chain of them via the franchise model. Although it didn’t fit with my personal “Time:ROI” formula, it rekindled memories of my early marketing work in arts and entertainment. Back in Florida, as PR Director for a county arts council supporting 26 adjoining municipalities, I was involved in a number of concerts and festivals. I was a member of the International Festival Association and even had a Certificate in Festival Marketing from Purdue (the university, not the chicken brand).

One event, a music festival held on the grounds of the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Art, drew 40,000 people when fewer than 10,000 were expected. Let’s just say we were short on a lot of things including port-o-lets. In those days I spent time at BB Joe’s, a jazz club in downtown St. Pete, and got to know a lot of musicians and singers.

But all that was before I drifted into and “around in” various aspects of ad agency work, starting in PR and going from there into copy writing, planning, account supervision and strategic brand planning. Drifting further and further from the arts into categories such as financial services,  manufacturing and technology.

Anyway, getting back to my LinkedIn coffee session that day, it felt good to talk blues and jazz and marketing all at once. I liked the idea of revisiting my roots in the arts. Just halfway into my Vanilla Nut Mocha, I was already hooked enough to at least scratch out some ideas for getting started on a shoestring budget.

Now, to be clear, shoestring budgets aren’t given much more than what I call a “napkin draft”.

Despite being very “first blush”, my notes pointed out a few things many start ups overlook –especially in the area of promotional merchandising and grassroots marketing.

These would apply not only to marketing a nightclub or restaurant, but to other areas of business too where experential marketing and strategic branding can make a big difference without necessarily needing a lot of cost.

The bottom line is that branding, done right, is always better than no branding. And branding done wrong, can be worse than a shoestring budget.

In the meantime, have you checked today’s surf report?

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— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill