5 great shoestring marketing campaigns

Small business owners are constantly on the hunt for cheap, effective marketing ideas. Tight budgets, particularly within start-ups, mean that many firms shy away from marketing altogether – often constricting their growth.

You do not necessarily need to spend a fortune to get results. Instead, creativity is the key to a great campaign. Here are some examples to get you started.

1. Threshers voucher

Back in 2006, alcohol retailer Threshers apparently recognised the potential of viral marketing. Just before Christmas, a voucher entitling the holder to 40 per cent off all wine and champagne ‘leaked’ onto the internet. The company claimed that the voucher was intended for their distribution partners only, and that it was never meant for public use.

As the voucher began to spread across the internet, Threshers executives gave interviews saying that they were concerned about the impact of the vouchers on their bottom line. They also reported that footfall was up dramatically in stores.

It later transpired that this was a cleverly orchestrated viral campaign. The company enjoyed massive increases in sales volume and a spike in profits – in return for a remarkably modest investment.

2. Weapons of mouse destruction

Firms in some of the less romantic industries often find it difficult to devise marketing campaigns, and there are few industries less romantic than pest control. Yet Cleankill, a London-based pest control business, managed to find a humorous and memorable way of marketing their services.

Following the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, the firm ran adverts with the tag-line, “Excuse me Mr Chilcot – Cleankill really DO have the weapons of mouse destruction.” The adverts were run in unusual places, including theatre programmes and church magazines around the firm’s catchment area.

Cleankill’s investment was very small, partly because they advertised in publications in which space is very cheap. The firm saw a 16.5 per cent increase in turnover during the first quarter of 2010.

3. Carlsberg don’t do litter…

London commuters may have noticed something strange on their walk to work back in April 2007 – the pavements were strewn with £10 notes.

Each note bore a sticker proclaiming that “Carslberg don’t do litter. But if they did it would probably be the best litter in the world.”

Carlsberg spent just £5,000 on the stunt, but it is still regularly cited as one of the best ‘ambient’ marketing campaigns in recent memory.

4. Need a new barbecue?

In another ‘ambient’ campaign, in which marketers use every-day, out-of-the-home objects and spaces to convey their message, an Indian retailer turned to the sewers to shift units.

Vijay Sales attached barbecue forks to sewer grates and spray-painted the phrase “Need a new barbecue?” below, along with their telephone number. Aside from boosting sales, the eye-catching campaign helped to raise brand awareness amongst Vijay’s potential customers.

5. My dad is a graphic designer…

Just last month the head of Harrison and Co, a Brighton-based graphic design business, announced on Twitter that he had asked his daughter to design a new poster for the firm. The poster consisted of a felt-tip drawing of some flowers, with a scrawl above that read, “My dad is a graphic designer. He designs logos and brochures and websites and suff [sic]. Some of it’s not bad. Ruby Harrison.”

The poster was an instant viral hit, causing massive spikes in traffic to the Harrison and Co website – at no cost to the business.

Marketing on a tight budget can be a difficult task. But, with a bit of creative thinking and a good grasp of technology, businesses can get a big boost from a small amount of cash.

What are your marketing shoestring ideas? Tell us!

Ready to set up your cover?

As the UK’s biggest business insurance provider, we specialise in public liability insurance and protect more trades than anybody else. Why not take a look now and build a quick, tailored quote?

Start your quote