Marketing secrets of the big brands

Four scalable marketing techniques for entrepreneurs and growing businesses

As the owner of a small or midsize company you may often wonder what the marketing secrets of the big brands are. You might imagine what you could do with an unlimited marketing budget plus a large, capable team to execute. You may think, if only you had the resources to implement the same strategies, tactics and tools of the big brands, you’d be able to achieve the same amazing results, right?

Peeking behind the curtains of these large companies shows that bigger isn’t always better. In fact, once you look behind their closed doors, there are many key strategies that can help smaller companies (with modest budgets) achieve similar, remarkable results.

What happens behind closed doors?

It’s true, large consumer packaged goods companies do have the advantage of a huge marketing budget, a wealth of knowledge from which to draw and access to some of the top marketing minds in the industry. They utilize these resources and lean into what works, adapting to new technology and trends that make their marketing more powerful.

On the other hand, these large behemoths are often unable to adapt quickly to changing consumer trends. And though they have unimaginable resources at their fingertips, they have the same problems small companies face, just on a larger scale.

Their marketing teams are asking the same questions and attempting to keep up, just like any other company. The difference, and their secret super-power, is that they have access to significantly more data and can draw correlations because of their powerful data teams.

What strategies, tactics and tools do they use?

Though they’re using a bigger budget, these big brands utilize key strategies that companies of any size and budget can use. Rather than spending like a big brand, results can be achieved on a much smaller budget by simply thinking like a big brand. Below are four examples of scalable techniques for entrepreneurs and growing businesses.

Tear down the silos

Big brands work cross-functionally and de-silo as much as possible. You can apply this concept by having all areas of your business communicate frequently and consistently.

Set up meetings between your teams to collaborate and create programs that will sell your product. Creating incentives around innovation and collaboration can lead to the creation of programs that speak to customers and drive sales.

Different teams have different strengths and they should all be included in marketing efforts from the beginning. For example: Marketing is often at the forefront of understanding and following trends; Sales knows what is working well and selling to retailers; and R&D could innovate with not only the product but the packaging as well.

Too often, companies are too siloed and don’t take advantage of the shared brainpower they have across departments. Resources already exist within your collective teams, all you must do is make sure everyone is talking and collaborating to take full advantage of the collective knowledge.

Plan ahead

Large companies create marketing plans for the following year anywhere from eight months to two years in advance. Many small to medium size companies are more reactive and the thought of planning marketing initiatives in advance is overwhelming.

What they don’t realize is that by planning they set themselves up for success throughout the year. An added benefit is that there are often discounts for media buys when purchased in advance.

Advance planning allows companies to take full advantage of partnerships with their first choice of brand influencers and optimal partners, creates efficiencies for sales programs and retailers and allows the team the time to analyze programs and adjust for what is working and what is not.

Partnerships are key

The big brands are very adept at creating diverse partnerships that expand their influence and audience. Not only does a partnership expand reach, but it also allows a business to share the budget for a promotion with another brand.

Any business can take advantage of partnerships by seeking out like-minded companies to help promote a product, run co-branded giveaways or create multi-faceted promotional campaigns. Shared marketing is not only interesting and intriguing for the consumer, but it can be newsworthy and greatly expands the potential audience for a marketing campaign.

Know your consumer

Knowing your consumer and what motivates them (and their purchases) is a basic and key component to marketing success. Marketing dollars allocated toward speaking to the wrong consumer or those spent without regard for consumer motivation, are dollars wasted.

Research your consumers. Learn all about their wants, needs, struggles and worries and then learn to speak their language. This way, you can solve their problems, celebrate their wins and be more in tune with their motivations.


The one area that is worth spending like a big brand is data. Investing in data such as Panel data, IRI or Nielsen can help determine where to allocate precious marketing dollars to maximize the bang for the buck. If purchasing data isn’t in the cards, gathering whatever intel you can pull together on your own.

No matter what, thinking like a big brand is a great first step to achieving comparable marketing results. Though they may always have the advantage of a massive budget, many of their strategies and tactics can maximize the results of a minimal marketing spend.

Jennifer McGhee is a managing partner for VOCO Creative, a Colorado-based Marketing Agency that specializes in savvy marketing for brands. 

Categories: Sales & Marketing