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10 High-Impact, Low-Budget Ideas for Marketing in a Down Economy (Part 1)

by Jonathan Kranz  |  
March 3, 2009

When the going gets tough, the tough get... cheap. Today, a good marketing idea has to be as inexpensive as it is clever. In part 1 of a two-part series, I offer five inexpensive suggestions that can lead to productive results.

1. Use all of the buffalo

The buffalo was more than a source of meat. Hides became clothing and shelter; bones became tools; sinews became bow strings.

Think like a Plains Indian and get the most use out of every marketing effort possible. One case study, for example, can serve as

  • Spider-food on your website that boosts SEO and provides meaningful content
  • A direct mail insert in lieu of the traditional product brochure
  • A tradeshow handout to jump start conversations
  • A leave-behind for sales calls


Exploit the public relations potential of a big project such as a whitepaper or e-book. If the content is genuinely valuable (not merely promotional swill), you may be able to pick up good press on the cheap.

One of my clients got a half-page article in the leading trade magazine for its industry—and scored a seat at the executive leadership table in the industry's dominant professional association as a result of the great press.

Target appropriate editors/bloggers/reporters with your content and include a quick note explaining its relevance to their audiences.

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Jonathan Kranz is the author of Writing Copy for Dummies and a copywriting veteran now in his 21st year of independent practice. A popular and provocative speaker, Jonathan offers in-house marketing writing training sessions to help organizations create more content, more effectively.

LinkedIn: Jonathan Kranz

Twitter: @jonkranz

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  • by George Waggoner Tue Mar 3, 2009 via web

    Powerful, practical stuff. Good insights.

  • by Bill Freedman Tue Mar 3, 2009 via web

    Jonathan...thanks for your contribution to this important and timely topic. Further writings and dialogs on marketing in a down economy can be found at:

    %3E%3E%3E Tippit/Marketo webcast titled "Buyer Behavior during a Recession." See the slide deck at:

    %3E%3E%3E Bill Freedman (that's me) blog titled "1 Strategic and 6 Tactical Marketing Practices for Recessionary Times" at

    %3E%3E%3E Harvard Business School/John Quelch research note "Marketing Your Way Through a Recession" at

    %3E%3E%3E Geoffrey Moore Blog titled "Focus—Sure—But How?" at

    %3E%3E%3E Seth Godin blog titled "Marketing in a recession" at

    ...clearly there is no shortage of good ideas.

  • by Neil Anuskiewicz Thu Mar 12, 2009 via web

    Great article. I hope that your series includes something about permission-based email marketing.

  • by Sameer Bhaduri Sat Mar 14, 2009 via web

    Hey Jonathan,
    Good stuff for tough times n' good times too!
    The underlining point to be made here is that the 'Corporate Communication Strategy' should be clear and effectively reflected in all media...

  • by Stanley WASSEO Tue Mar 17, 2009 via web

    I concur to your excellent metaphor of the plains indian. Check

  • by Liberty Tue Mar 31, 2009 via web

    You definitely offer some helpful advice for marketing in a down economy. I wrote a blog which gives tips on this too, here it is -

  • by Mel White Tue Apr 14, 2009 via web

    It seems obvious, but "Playing to Your Strengths" includes not overlooking your existing customers. Too often, we spend our time searching for the next big sales opportunity and that opportunity is right in front of us as an existing customer who just needs a little TLC. We found that if we give them the tools to succeed, such as web-based tools they can incorporate into their website, they are more likely to rely on the company that helped them succeed.

    For example, we provide our distributors with a Design Search tool, which can be re-branded for their site. We do the maintenance. They get the benefit and we get the sale. For an example, see

  • by brian Tue Dec 29, 2009 via web

    Great points here. I especially agree with the social media buzz/overkill.

    Don't try to do too many things at once, pick one or two sites and be engaged on them, having a profile that hasn't been updated in 10 months isn't doing anyone anything.


  • by Protea Digital Tue Dec 29, 2009 via web

    Excellent point about choosing your social media weapons. There is no real value to trying to get onto every network. Just chose three and put a lot of work into those.

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