I kind of specialize in low cost advertising and marketing promotion production after working for non-profits and promoting employee programs where there is no budget other than people to do the work who are usually volunteers and basic equipment like cameras, printers, and computers. Here are tips I use to make the most of common supplies with a zero to low advertising budget.
Strategies for Low Cost Production
Use as much free stuff as possible like open source/free software, creative commons media, sponsored materials, public domain media (sound clips, videos).
Partner with other organizations to lower the cost of their advertising and combine marketing plans to strengthen their market presence. For example, a tourism organization I work with partners with regional tourism groups and the provincial government to promote their area.
“Who you know” — Ask your team about their talents, especially their hobbies outside of work. You’d be surprised how many people outside their work are talented musicians, video editors, photographers, renovators, etc. who can donate their time or have contacts with people who can provide low cost advertising materials.
Be simple with your ads and use a casual everyday scenarios, lighting, and scenes for yours ads. A recent ad by President’s Choice is a good example. It was Galen Weston Jr. sitting in a well-lit kitchen talking to two women about the new product – – that’s it!
Use your archives and find older ads and media. Is there something you can reuse and recycle?
Set up a common repository of advertising stories, media, materials, etc. for your organization. It’s common to share a stock photography and video library.
Tactics for Low Cost Production
Combine marketing campaigns with an advertising partner. Ideas to combine are direct mail campaigns, out-of-home media, events, and commercials.
Use free open source software. Lots of choices for creative people on different computer platforms (online web tools, Windows, Linux, Mac)
Ask your corporate/organization’s sponsors to help you with events by providing materials you can use for promotion. My sponsors commonly pay for printing of posters if you include them in the poster and thank them for sponsorship.
Borrow and Share. Do search on the internet for ads that resemble yours and adapt their designs or approach to your brand.
Use Bing/Yahoo, Facebook, or Google promotional coupons for free digital advertising. Usually they provide $50 of free advertising for new sign ups. You can sign up, use the free $50 and continue if you like.
Use social media to get input from customers. Not an innovative idea, but getting input either through voting, a contest, or reward system is a win-win for the company and consumer. Plus, you can get good publicity from asking for input.