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How to win in Marketing With a Small Budget

Alexander Novicov


Why you don’t need a massive budget, just a different point of view.

Winning in marketing means that you create campaigns and content that people consume, engage with and ultimately buy from you. Some brands have deep pockets and they are willing to experiment with different strategies. If they lose £100k they don’t really mind because, well, cash flow and investors.

They say money doesn’t bring happiness. Well, I think we can add that money doesn’t buy trust either. You can have all the money in the world, and all the budget in the world but if a person or an audience doesn’t trust you, they will never buy from you.

Do you really believe that Saudi Arabia believes in equality and human rights?

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Yesterday I read that Saudi Arabia’s Government is paying $25 million to international footballer Lion Messi to promote their country. The deal specifies that he needs to publish 10 posts on his social media per year to promote the country.

It doesn’t really matter how much budget you have if the product has flawed.

Let’s look at Red Bull — a global brand with a huge marketing budget. As soon as you think of Red Bull you think of extreme sports. This didn’t happen by accident. It was intentional. Red Bull is always present when there is an extreme sports event.

Red Bull Website — focusing on being a media company that sells energy drink.

They collaborate with professional athletes, they host events, they are on social media, they run billboards, they have their own Formula 1 team. They are everywhere.

It’s a bold and expensive marketing plan, but it’s paying off. If we go to their website, we can see clearly how they focus on being a media company that sells energy drinks, not an energy drink company that publishes an article and sponsors an athlete.

The lesson we can learn from them is to find out where our audience hangs out and go there and hang out with them, create content that inspires them, educates or entertains them.

How does this apply to smaller brands? Well, look at Tenzing Energy Drink. Their founder, Huib van Bockel, worked as the Marketing Director at Red Bull for 8 years before leaving in 2014 to create Tenzing.

They launched their first campaign last year focussing pretty much on ‘natural plant based’ ingredients. They did a lot of out-of-home media and digital ads.

I can see them being at the Love Trails Festival (a running festival in Wales that I’m speaking at), Midnight Runners (a global running club) and I notice that they are in some gyms. So in terms of the audience I think they focus on gym goers and runners. I’m not sure if they are after endurance runners.

Tenzing Home Page

Their budget is smaller than Red Bull but they are focusing on niche markets and they are trying to be in places where their future and current customers are. They are nowhere close to having a media company mentality but perhaps soon they will develop it as the cost of acquiring and retaining brand awareness with their current strategy will be astronomical.

The other way to win in marketing with a small budget is by putting all your eggs in one basket. Conventional advice would be the opposite. Diversify. But in this case, in marketing with small budgets, I think the best strategy is to go all in one thing.

So for example, if you want to run a campaign about your brand you would go all in creating content for ONE specific channel (Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn or Facebook). Most people would advise you to have all the channels possible. I think it’s a really good idea but when you don’t have a huge budget I would say focus on ONE channel and create native content for that specific channel. Focus on the creative and the value that your content gives.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

It might be that you want to do sampling, so you do sampling in one area and focus on that. It depends on the product and it depends on the audience. But whatever the strategy is, the creative needs to be a huge part of it.

The last point is creativity. Creative strategy. Most small business owners don’t have the budget for R&D (research & development) because they might have one budget but that’s to launch their campaign so there is no space for R&D. Then they neglect the creative strategy because some think it’s a waste of time.

Well if you are going to market and sound and be as everyone else it doesn’t really matter how much budget you have, it will be the same as trying to boil a cup of tea in an ocean. It will feel like hard work and that you are doing something but the impact will be non existent.

It’s better to go ‘crazy’ and stand out by staying on brand, by being yourself. But you need to create a creative strategy so you can differentiate.

A creative strategy is not a brand strategy and it’s definitely not a marketing strategy. It’s a separate document that goes into the overall marketing strategy.

Marketing with a small budget can be challenging but at the same time it can be a great experience because you have to get your hands dirty. Look at how Thursday Dating app created creative guerilla campaigns with balloons and funny messaging that caught the attention of celebrities and press, just because they are different.

Thursday Marketing Stunt

The goal is to be different by thinking why you are different and having a different point of view.



Alexander Novicov

I wake up every day striving to become the best version of myself. I’m a human, an author, ultra runner, skydiver, speaker and CEO at Way Boutique Agency.