A month ago, we published a blog outlining all the equipment a company needs to handle video marketing. That number rang up between $2,641 on the cheaper end and $6,276 for those higher spenders. For most small businesses just trying to keep their head above water during a global pandemic, that number seems like quite the pipedream.

So with that in mind, I opened up my wallet and out dropped a few coins, a button, three tangled paper clips and a crisp hundred dollar bill. That got me thinking—what if that was my only marketing budget? Could I still design a video ad for my company? Below I’ve outlined 3 approaches (all mostly under $100) to making a high-quality video ad on a low-quality budget. These tips assume that you have access to at least a newer iPhone or other high-end smartphone—which can be minimally used to take convincing video.

The cheap lightbox approach

If I could choose one item to help me survive on a deserted island it would be a photo lightbox. Obviously, I’d die right away, but before that I’d be able to get the clearest, brightest lighting on any item I could find on that island. A decent photo lightbox runs around $80, leaving you $20 under budget. With built-in LED lights and variable backgrounds (namely white and black), you can easily isolate an object and pan a camera around for some basic spec shots. For instance, the advertisement below has moments that can be replicated in a photo lightbox with some creativity (timestamp 0:03):

The CINEMA 4D approach

Alright, this is cheating—you don’t even need a camera for this one. CINEMA 4D is software that helps to render animations. A monthly subscription costs around $95, but the program isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re new to the program, an entire month can be spent just trying to learn the basics. Learning CINEMA 4D is like teaching a grandmother to make a Squarespace website—it can be done, but at what cost? With all that being said, rendering a commercial and making it fully using special effects is an easy way (albeit a time consuming one) to make an ad look professional. 

The renting equipment approach

Alright let’s cheat on this one too.  It may be almost double the aforementioned budget, but you can rent a Sony Alpha a6600 camera and a lens for around $185 for 7 days. Yup. We know that’s over budget, but video projects always run over budget. And that extra $85 will put you in a much better position than using your little iPhone. Videography is an investment in your company—if you invest pennies you get pennies. If you invest dollars, the stock market crashes. Shit. That’s the wrong proverb. But nevertheless renting a quality camera is probably the easiest approach, and we’d recommend it over trying to use an iPhone and a cheap lightbox or trying to learn CINEMA 4D in a single month.

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Making a video advertisement for your small business is essential. But getting all the proper equipment feels like a Warren Buffet-level investment. Using some of these tips, hopefully you’ll be able to make a video ad that saves the piggybank and still gives your company a professional presence.


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Mintleaf is a creative marketing agency based out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It serves the greater Seacoast Region and specializes in videography, content marketing, social media and web design.



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