marketing on a budget
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The Great Depression was a devastating period for America’s economy and citizens: unemployment was rife, families experienced terrible poverty, and businesses crumbled. While there had been economical problems before – 1873’s panic, the recession of 1923 – the Great Depression made a deep impact on the country, and people still fear another could be on its way whenever the economy wavers.

However, some businesses did manage to perform well in this time. Many companies stripped their outgoings, reducing advertising in the belief that nobody had money to spend on their products. Procter & Gamble, for example, maintained its marketing campaign, and – thanks to their investment in wide-reaching radio ads – managed to come out of the Great Depression with minimal financial damage. Likewise, Chevrolet expanded its marketing budget while the competition pulled back, and had claimed the top spot in its sector by 1931.

So, what can you learn from these two examples? No matter how tight your budget is, no matter how limited you believe your advertising options, you can still get your brand out there into the public consciousness. Read on for 7 tips you can use learn from business that flourished in America’s most financially-unstable time.

Make the Most of your Marketing Resources

Doing nothing to promote your brand will get you nowhere. Even on the smallest budget, you still have some funds to play with – this is as good a starting point as any. Thanks to the internet, advertising your products and services is easier and more cost-effective than ever.
While many businesses prefer to pay internet marketing agencies to handle their online presence, on a tight budget you should make the most of the free tools available. Google Analytics can help highlight the best and worst parts of your site. Keyword tools will help you find the best, most effective search terms. Creating blogs, articles, and more costs you very little – and so does sharing them on your social networks – not to mention they’re free.

Create Outstanding Content

As we mentioned earlier, getting blog posts out there can be hugely effective. Writing content yourself is an obvious money-saver, but what if your spelling and grammar show room for improvement? Try to find a colleague or friend with stronger skills, and see if they can spruce it for you. The better and richer your content is, the more attention it will receive on social media.

Use Videos

Brands that survived through the Great Depression didn’t let smaller budgets stop them from advertising, and neither should you. Thanks to YouTube and other video-based sites, you can now create, publish, and circulate promotional videos for free. Provided you create videos that entertain and engage, you can do your brand a lot of good – especially if your work is shared enough on social media. Even if they don’t directly reference your services, a funny or powerful video associated with your brand can transform your online visibility and reputation.

Try DIY Materials to Minimize Marketing Costs

Just as people had to draw more on their own personal skills in the Great Depression, you too can make the most of DIY. Infographics, for example, are powerful marketing tools that allow brands to share information in an eye-catching visual way – there are plenty of free templates available online, requiring you to simply fill in the blanks. Use these and share them on social media. You may also want to try DIY posters, greeting cards, and more to spread your message.


Just as recycling goods can give old stuff a new lease of life, recycling your content can be a great, cheap marketing technique. Take a collection of interlinked blog posts or articles, and convert it into an e-book available for download; build your best Tweets or Facebook posts into a striking collage people can share; edit videos together to form longer webinars.

Give Stuff Away

This might seem difficult in times when you have little to go around, but giving goods away in a contest can bring traffic to your site. Create a competition on Facebook and/or Twitter, inviting people to Like, Share, or comment, or all three) on a post to win a tempting item – the more attractive the prize, the more people will share!

Try Working with Other Sites

Writing guest blog posts or articles on other sites – not direct competitors, but perhaps those offering different services in the same industry – can make new users aware of your brand. This technique also generates backlinks to drive traffic to your site from new sources. See if you can return the favour as payment to really save money.

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Asher Elran
Co-founder at Ignitur