Teletubbies and chalkboards: Tips for advertising with little or no budget

by: Charles Gaiennie on

Marketing and advertising obviously takes a lot of creativity and outside-the-box thinking, but this holds especially true with a limited budget, if there is one at all. Having coordinated the publicity for every organization I've been involved with in high school and college, I have definitely had my share of interesting ideas thanks to small budgets. Aside from chalking on sidewalks and handing out food, I've disobeyed school poster-posting policies by taping posters to toilets and windows, stood on tables in cafeterias and even dressed up like a Teletubby.

Silly as some of these things may seem, they are pretty effective for niche markets like student bodies, but for companies looking to establish themselves or maintain their reputation, dressing up like a Teletubby may not fall in line with their branding or company image. Then again, it may. The bottom line is understanding who your target market is and how you can stand out to them in an appealing manner.

To accompany our new advertising promotion which was made with a chalkboard and a camera, we'd like to offer just a few ways you can advertise your business or organization with little or no budget. An original or out-there idea can garner a lot of buzz, but keep in mind your company's style and always include a logo for consistent branding.

Word of mouth: This is a tried-and-true and very effective way to market your business. Whether it's via an exchange of business cards, a chat about your services at a party or having your family and friends spread word to their friends and colleagues, word of mouth and networking are the easiest ways to spread your business' name. People trust people they know, especially when it comes to recommendations. Remember the time your Aunt Beatrice told you about the poor food quality at that new restaurant? You were probably reluctant to dine there. Well, the same concept works in reverse. Generating new business and spreading your company's name is as easy as telling someone all the good things about it.

Press releases: How is your business different from the others in the industry? What have you done to separate yourself from the rest? Find something unique or useful about your businesses and send out a press release to local magazines and newspapers like Point of Vue, Gumbo and The Courier. Good press in a publication with a large or faithful readership is a huge marketing win. If you have a relationship with a journalist or publisher, try writing an article or column about your field. Establishing yourself as an expert in your field will generate lots of credibility for your company. Remember, however, to provide advice that's relevant to the local readership.

Sponsor events: Offer some sort of service to the organization or company hosting the event in exchange for logo placement on the t-shirt, banner or brochure. Lending a tent, generator or PA system or providing drinks or other services for the day will do you good in the long run. I know lots of people who still wear old Tunnel Run and fishing rodeo shirts. All it takes is a glance at the sponsors to generate business for you down the road. 

Guerilla marketing: This is where it gets fun. Chalk downtown, put stickers on gas pumps and bathroom stalls or cover telephone poles in fliers. Give hats and t-shirts with your logo to everyone you know. Try a cold call or two. Set up a food tasting outside Walmart or any other highly-trafficked area. Go to the library or Books-A-Million to put business cards in books similar to your industry. Try to think of any way to get your name out there without a billboard, magazine ad or radio spot. These techniques might reach fewer people, but they're usually more memorable. And a whole lot cheaper.

© Copyright The W.L. Gaiennie Company 2016