If you’re like most marketing directors, you’re probably asking yourself, “How can I grow my sales and revenue without spending an arm and a leg on a new, expensive marketing program?”

Well, the good news is that companies like Colgate, Valvoline, A-1 Steaksauce and Pepsi have, in some cases, grown their revenues by simply putting their thinking caps on.

What follows are some anecdotal case studies I’ve heard over the years. They illustrate that it’s entirely possible to grow sales and revenue without spending a dime.

(Please note: These are stories I’ve heard at conferences and events. I haven’t been able to independently verify them. Despite that, they illustrate a valuable point — that you don’t always need money to grow your sales and revenue. Sometimes, you just need a brain.)

Here are some new and innovative ways some of the Fortune 500 have grown sales just by being innovative and inventive:

Colgate Toothpaste did what all good brands do and analyzed the needs of their target market. They realized that even though dentists encourage us to brush three times a day, most people only brush twice a day. Based on that, they re-positioned their toothpaste as “The toothpaste for people who can only brush twice a day.” By re-positioning the brand, they were able to differentiate themselves from their competitors who, in the consumer’s mind, didn’t have the “twice a day magic formula” that Colgate had.

Valvoline Oil took a similar approach by creating a line extension for “people who can’t change their oil every 3,500 miles.” The new oil, which probably cost about 5% more to produce as their regular oil, was twice as expensive. Valvoline figured out that the person who couldn’t change their oil every 3,500 miles would probably be willing to pay a premium for an oil that protected their car for 7,000 miles. The result was that Valvoline got to charge twice as much for a product that only cost 5% more to produce. Brilliant!

A-1 Steaksauce grew their market share by changing 1 line of copy on their label. How did they do this? Their research indicated that consumers open their refrigerator door 8 times for every 1 time they open their pantry. So what did A-1 do? They added “Refrigerate after opening” onto the label (even thought that wasn’t necessary). By doing this, A-1 Steaksauce was seen 8 times more frequently than it had been in the past. The more times customers see a product on their shelves, the more times they use it. Bravo.

Pepsi grew their sales and revenue by convincing restaurants to offer free refills. Remember in the old days when you had to pay for every soft drink you ordered? Well, the folks at Pepsi decided that one way to grow sales was to encourage restaurants to give free refills. The more refills, the more Pepsi sales. How did they do it? They convinced one restaurant chain that providing free refills was a way to increase customer loyalty. Once the first restaurant started offering free refills, they just went to other restaurants and said, “Hey, your competitors are offering free refills. Why aren’t you, too?” The result? More sales and revenue for their brand.

Again, most of these stories are anecdotal, but they illustrate a point — you don’t need big bucks to grow sales and revenue. You just need new ideas.

With that in mind, here’s a technique you can use to generate new ideas to grow your sales and revenue:

  • Get your team together for a brainstorming meeting. All the regular rules apply. In other words, any idea is a good idea (initially). Keep track of the new and innovative ideas on a white board.
  • During the brainstorming meeting, get inside the mind of your customer. Figure out what it is they’re really buying. (Remember, people don’t buy Porsches because of their German engineering. They buy Porsches for their sex appeal. Keep that consumer insight in mind as you analyze what people are really buying when they purchase your product.)
  • Analyze some of your competitor’s marketing ideas. There’s nothing wrong with borrowing an idea from a competitor and using it for yourself. Jot these ideas down on the white board.
  • Ask yourself, “How would a physicist solve our problem?” Jot those ideas down. Then ask, “How would an artist solve our problem?” Keep asking that question from different perspectives to see what you come up with.
  • Interview your customers. Find out if they have any new and innovative ideas on how to grow your sales and revenue. You’ll be surprised at some of their outside-the-box thinking. Keep track of those ideas, too.
  • Interview people who didn’t buy your product. You’ll learn more from people who don’t buy your product than from people who do buy your product. Interview them. Find out why they didn’t buy. Then leverage that information in new and innovative ways to grow sales and revenue.

At the end of the brainstorming session and the interviews, you should have a bunch of new and innovative ideas floating around. Most of them will be bad ideas. But about 1% of them will be pure gold!

Here’s an example of putting this technique into action. I came up with it this morning while on a business trip.

Customer Insight: Regular sized tubes of toothpaste aren’t allowed through airport security. That means many travelers arrive at their hotels without toothpaste.

Opportunity: Approach hotels about providing¬† travel-sized toothpaste in the complimentary bathroom kit that’s in most major hotels around the globe.

Result: By adding a new sales channel to a toothpaste brand’s network, sale will increase accordingly.

We’ve covered a lot of ground in today’s blog post, but if there’s one thing that you should remember coming out of this post, it’s this — you don’t need a big budget to grow your sales and revenue, you just need good ideas.

Post by Jamie Turner, Chief Content Officer at the 60 Second Marketer, the online magazine of BKV Digital and Direct Response. Jamie’s new book, “How to Make Money with Social Media” will be published by the Financial Times Press this fall.