Make the Most of Your Shoestring Budget

Instead of looking at a small budget as an obstacle–look at it as a challenge. Consider it a dare. And if your budget is non-existent, then you might want to look at it like a Double-Dog Dare. The next time your budget gets slashed (or not approved) here are some angles to consider:

Leverage Partnerships

In order to get what you want, look at your business network. Are there partners that might be able to help you out if you are able to tweak your marketing plans to achieve a shared outcome? If you’re able to do some of the heavy lifting, such as strategy and execution, there is a good chance you can find a partner who has some money to throw at the idea if you are able to loop their goals into the plan as well.

Look into Grants

If you’re a non-profit, this is a great opportunity to stretch your budget. If you’re a for-profit business, consider pivoting your marketing strategy to benefit a non-profit or charitable organization. This will also give you the opportunity to collaborate and expose your business to an entirely new audience. It’s a win-win.


Your company or organization should have something that everybody wants. Otherwise, why are you in business? If you are a services-based organization, you can trade out hours or projects for the support you need to accomplish your plan. If you sell goods, you can work out wholesale discounts or direct trade agreements with partners to help get what you need.

Social Media

It’s free to create an account. Buying ads is relatively affordable. The things that can be expensive when it comes to social media are content and analytics. You need strong content with solid design and messaging and you’ll need to report metrics on those efforts. Those things aren’t cheap. But if you’ve got a decent eye for design, you can crank out a few pieces of design work using Photoshop, InDesign, or free tools like Canva. At this point, most major social networks offer access to analytics and insights that can give you a scratch on the surface of how your content is performing at no cost. If you’ve done a decent job at those two efforts, think of creative partners you can leverage.


If your marketing plan requires some assets to be created and your budget is tight, consider repurposing some things. Photography is my favorite asset to repurpose. Whenever I schedule a shoot, I always get about 30% of b-roll and extra shots “just in case”. There is a good chance down the road, when my budget gets tight, that I will need to tap into that reserve of imagery to help freshen up the look of my marketing.

Remember, marketing is usually the last line-item increased on a budget, and typically the first one cut when times are tough. The next time your budget isn’t as big as you’d like, don’t get discouraged. Instead, get scrappy. Hustle. Kick over some rocks that nobody else has time to overturn. After it’s all said and done, you’ll be glad you did.

About the Author: Having been in the Columbus marketing scene for over 15 years, Dilara Casey has worked with companies with budgets ranging from $500 to $5 million all while staying on the cutting edge of marketing trends and innovations.

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