3 low-cost and lo-fi marketing trends for the new normal

This post was originally published on Aug. 28, 2020, and it was updated on Dec. 28, 2020.

COVID-19 has changed how we live, work, and relate. In the small business world, it’s no different. 

With social distancing measures still in place, brands have downsized or completely scaled back marketing budgets. In the wake of COVID-19, nearly $50 billion globally has been pulled out of the advertising market. 

But instead of killing advertising, the pandemic has forced a creative renaissance. Instead of relying on huge budgets and professional shoots, we’re seeing the rise of self-edited, lo-fi, and home-shot content. 

Whether you’re a small business owner or new entrepreneur, you can take advantage of these new marketing trends. Below, you’ll learn how large brands have adapted to this shift, and how you can implement what’s currently working for them into your marketing strategy. 

In this video, we spoke with Sally Sargood, Chief Video Officer at #OpenWeStand partner, Animoto, who shares ideas on how to create videos that connect with customers and drive action for business success:

Low-cost/lo-fi marketing is the new normal

Big budget commercial shoots are nearly impossible to do right now, and as a result, brands are opting for more scrappy production out of necessity. 

Traditionally, this would scare most big brands. But, according to one YouTube exec, these scrappy ads are actually outperforming many others on the platform.  

And, this extends across the entire business landscape and is greatly influenced by the type of content published across TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram. 

Less-polished advertising has a certain appeal and makes even large brands feel more accessible to their audiences. 

How small business and brands can embrace the new normal

DIY content just feels more natural to watch. You don’t feel like you’re being marketed to. 

Here are a few ways your business can use this trend to create low-cost and lo-fi videos, social media posts, and other marketing content in this changing world. 

1. Create videos like you were sending them to a friend

Today, we have a lot of different platforms that cater to live stream videos like Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook Live. 

This style of video has become the norm and what we expect. It feels more relatable and down-to-earth. 

For example, we have the Mint Mobile Ad featuring Ryan Reynolds that’s him running through a parody PowerPoint. Even though it’s low-budget, it’s entertaining and holds your attention better than most ads.

You can apply this same style of thinking to your video content, whether it’s for a paid advertisement, a social media story, or a post. 

Imagine you were creating a quick video to your friend about your business: what would you say and how would you say it?

2. Crowdsource content from followers

You might have seen Facebook’s “We’re Never Lost If We Can Find Each Other” ad throughout the lockdown. Essentially, this ad celebrates all the ways we were staying connected throughout lockdown, the footage that plays through this ad was all obtained from real people.

You’ll notice the production quality is much higher, but the idea remains the same.

Try to source content from real customers, a.k.a. user-generated content (UGC). 

Related: What is user-generated content and can it help your business?

This can show up in many forms, but here are some ideas:

  • Re-share stories or pictures that customers have posted about your products or business.
  • Add any user-shared stories or images to your Instagram Story 
  • Create a short video with your customers enjoying your products, shopping at your business, etc.
  • Go live on Instagram or Facebook and answer any questions your followers, clients, and customers have.
  • Conduct Zoom interviews with satisfied customers about their experience working with you and share these across social media.

3. Utilize quick, off-the-cuff content

Great video and social media content don’t have to be extensively planned, shot, and edited. Instead, we can take a page out of Gary Vee’s book to think differently about content.

Overall, your goal is to create as much content as possible spread across as many different platforms as you can manage. Best of all, this content is meant to be short and off-the-cuff, while still being packed with value.

Here are some ideas:

  • Screenshot your tweets and share them on Instagram Stories in Create Mode to create funny and consumable memes. (Plus, this is a good way to let your Instagram audience know that your business is also on Twitter.)
  • Take a screenshot of your thoughts on a notepad app and share these.
  • Run polls to your Instagram and Facebook followers and share the results.
  • Take pictures or short videos with customers and clients and share these across social media.
  • Cross-post short video content across TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
  • Create daily Instagram Stories sharing your “thoughts of the day.”

Hopefully this has helped you understand how marketing and advertising is being done in the new normal, and how you can adapt your small business to the changing marketing trends. 

Check out these resources on for more business lessons and strategies you can use to thrive through these tough times.