In the world of social media, small businesses are faced with the challenge of producing a constant stream of marketing content to funnel through social channels. Some social channels are easier than others. Instagram for example makes it easy to give your customers a glimpse into your everyday life. A quick snapshot of office culture or staged vignettes makes it easy to feed the curious consumer. However, the same photos don’t always translate that well over to other digital media feeds like Facebook, Pinterest, or even your blog. Small business owners that who don’t have the resources to constantly create marketing material can take a shortcut by relying on other people’s events for their own marketing content.

The best way to get the most dynamic level of thriving new marketing material is through volunteer work. In a volunteer environment, you’re the boss and can pick and choose which type of volunteer activities you’d like to get involved in. Take the example of local photography and videography business that just launched their very small two-manned production last year. In desperate need of additional portfolio material, the duo took on a string of strategic volunteer assignments throughout the county. They were involved with the Newport Beach Film Festival, where they reaped access to red carpet step-and-repeats that provided them with both photo opportunities and interview videos.

Over the course of the entire Film Festival, the team was engaged with a highly functional highly visible organization in which they were at the heart with complete access to all events. A brilliant collaboration, the team walked away with hundreds of final cut photos that ranged from red carpet stars, behind the scenes staging, event parties, entertainment performers, and more. Taking it a step further, the team created a promo video with footage they took during their volunteer stint. With just a month of complete dedication, the small business not only walked with a gold mine of marketing material – they also walked away with a new set of business contacts and professional experience.

Now fully functional with a stream of fresh business from great referrals, the team still engaged in volunteer work to keep their skills sharp, gain access to new industries, and supply a steady stream of marketing content. Naturally great at what they do, the volunteer work has also boosted sales through great word of mouth resulting from not only the fantastic product they’ve provided but also from the superb customer service they gave during that time.

Perhaps your business isn’t service-based and you don’t have the time to invest in volunteer work. You can also get philanthropic by serving great causes through gratis items sourced from you business. There are two types of charity functions that will best serve your needs. The first is a business booth the charity enables you to set up on their premises, usually for some sort of a fair. Here they provide you with a tent and a table, granting you on-site access to all their attendees. In exchange they request a percentage of the sales. Not only does this type of arrangement stimulate a rich environment for sales, you’re also afforded the opportunity to market your business at a minimal expense. Of course, this is another ripe moment to grasp marketing material by means of booth/product photos and videos of new customers experiencing your products.

Charity silent auctions are the second type of events that allow for a fresh marketing material. Here all you need to do is provide the set-up material that usually consists of the product, any related props, and a stack of business cards or well-designed club cards. My only advice in this area would be to enter a contract with the event organizer that specifies which conditions need to be met. Unfortunately there are event organizers that emphasize the event but aren’t trained in maintaining proper vendor relations, meaning they use you for the chance to gain an auction item but don’t follow through on what you need to gain marketing materials. To prevent a fall out, ask for the photographer’s information ahead of time and contact that photographer requesting specific photos of your auction item. Your contract with the event organizer should also detail what you’re offering and what you expect in return, including which items you expect set up with your auction item and how many photos you expect in return of your contribution.