NBC recently charged a staggering $4.5 million for 30-second commercial spots during the Super Bowl. Moving to social media platforms drops that cost significantly, at $750,000 for one day of disappearing Snapchat ads or $400,000 for a front-page YouTube placement. However, the fact remains that marketing is tremendously expensive and often demands huge advertising budgets. If advertising dollar amounts like this are difficult for corporations to swallow, what are emerging companies and startups supposed to do?

Mattress startup Casper seems to have a decent grip on the idea. The direct-to-consumer mattress company that only offers one high-quality mattress style has managed to land $20 million in sales in its first 10 months of operation, with a slim-to-none advertising budget. They’ve had to be smarter about their spending, because as CEO Phillip Krim pointed out, they simply don’t have the same resources to go head-to-head against major retailers like the Sleepy’s and Mattress Giants of the world.

That isn’t to say Casper isn’t spending on advertising – their “The Perfect Mattress” ads running in the New York City subway system surely comprise the bulk of their ad spend. However, through their targeted and engaging social media strategy, exciting bed in a box mattress delivery system, and quality product, they have been able to garner the support of many brand advocates who adore their product and customer service.

As brand evangelists are eating up Casper’s cute sleep-related references to current events like Valentine’s Day and uploading videos of the box-unwrapping process, the company is off to a successful first year with many sales generated through word of mouth. Their relentless focus on the customer experience shows in the quality of both their mattresses and consumer engagement, and proves that it is possible to grow a business without spending millions.

Fanny Sun, MSD Intern