Frugality vs. cheapness in construction marketing

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The Googleplex in Mountain View, CA

Sometimes words have similar meanings but with subtle (and important) differences.  Consider, for example, the connotation of “frugal” vs. “cheap”.  Cheap has a negative connotation, implying less-than-excellent quality.  Frugal, on the other hand, correlates with cheap in “price” but not necessarily in quality.  But not necessarily.

If these words cause your mind to spin in confusion, perhaps I can explain the concept with an example of my upcoming visit to California for the Google Top Contributor summit.  The cheapest way to do the trip is to take the free travel provided by Google to San Francisco and return home right after the summit is complete.  A cheap, and frugal, extension to Vancouver in economy class would cost a few hundred dollars more.  In my case, I’ll simply be frugal — using airline points earned through business expenses I would need to pay anyways, I’ll return to Ottawa in a business class seat.

If I had passed all the frugality tests, I could have arranged this extension for the grand cash cost of $71.  But because I failed to realize the option when originally booking my travel, the penalties bring the true cash cost to $300.00.  Still, a six day west-cost visit to California and Vancouver, staying either at four star hotels or with relatives, with business class travel for half the transcontinental trip, for a cost of $300 is, well, frugal.

Cheap marketing implies keeping your cash costs low, but not thinking about quality and not using much imagination and creativity.  Frugal marketing implies taking the magical extra steps to create a powerful and effective marketing experience, which “should be” much more expensive cash-wise, but isn’t.

The problem is frugal marketing as I describe it here is not something you can easily duplicate or replicate with a cookie-cutter model.  You need to assemble various elements creatively, based often on situational opportunities.  Rarely can you achieve frugality based on the words of a single marketing guru or advertising sales representative.

Taking my travel example in detail, for example, I combined a (special) free travel opportunity earned through voluntary contributions with extensive knowledge of airlines points systems and the practical fact that my 87-year-old mother lives in Vancouver.  Each of these elements, independently, has some value; the magic occurs when I realize all the pieces in one puzzle. (An example of the detail involved — I planned my routing to return on Saturday, a good time to snare a one way-business class points ticket, because of course most business people paying full fare try to avoid Saturday travel.)

Now, having read this post, you may wonder, how you can put this knowledge to work in your own marketing campaigns.  I have to admit that I cannot tell you specifically what to do here and, if you were to ask me as a stranger (and not one of our paid advertising clients), I would expect you to pay me a consulting fee, which of course defeats the frugality concept.

However, you can still take the pieces and put them together with some thinking:

What are your greatest strengths (where you combine your passion and natural ability)?

How can you correlate these strengths to the interests of your current and potential clients to enhance, build and improve relationships?  Related to this, is what can you give in the community that doesn’t require much money but offers great value to the individuals and organizations you wish to influence — and which you sincerely like and support as well?

Are there ways you can combine seemingly unrelated knowledge points and interests to enhance and add to the experience and power of your initiatives?

Putting things together, I realize even as I write this posting that I have missed a critical element in my frugal travel to the west coast in September.  Is there a way I can use this visit to enhance, meet and connect with potential clients and business opportunities on the West Coast while traveling? Yes, frugality is an evolving process.

You can still register for the Frugal Construction Marketer livecast Friday at 2 p.m. here.

 

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