A Lesson in Penny-Pinching from the Pentagon

penniesNewsweek reported (April 19, 2009) that the Pentagon is using a new “weapon” in Iraq. A redesigned Humvee? An improved rifle? Nope. An iTouch.

What Can the iTouch Do for the Pentagon?

It’s certainly not the first gadget that comes to mind when you think of the army, but they’re using it to translate, store video (say of a tribal leader advising villagers to cooperate with the soldiers), and share data about suspected insurgents. Since it has an existing support structure and development tools, it’s not difficult to find programmers to produce specialized applications to display video from drones or use the iTouch as a remote control for a bomb-disposal robot.

Say Goodbye to $400 Hammers

Instead of following the well-worn path to $400 hammers and $5,000 toilets, someone decided to look past the military-industrial complex and use comparatively cheap, off-the-shelf tools.

You don’t need boatloads of money to be successful; you do need to think creatively. Leverage what you have. Use existing resources in different ways. The founders of Apple, Yahoo!, Blogger, etc. didn’t have VC funding. They had ideas, and the ability to execute them (dreaming is great, but without execution it goes nowhere).

Draw Outside the Lines

In a recession, it’s even more important to look at where you’re spending money and figuring out how to get better results from your efforts. Are you better off Twittering? Or putting an ad in a (gasp) magazine? Should you concentrate on brand awareness? Or monitor the Internet for mentions of your company name and brand (positive or negative)?

It’s not about the money. I once ran a very successful marketing campaign for $75; more on this Monday.

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