Most sales and marketing pros could probably do pretty impressive work with an unlimited budget. Yes, there's nothing quite like a blank check to unlock creative genius. But then the alarm goes off, your feet hit the floor, and it's time to spend another day in the real world. That's the one where big dreams and budgets regularly collide.

Sometimes, though, an immovable dollar sign produces stunning innovation. It makes you look at the standard tools—things such as ads, logos, brochures, sales centers, and model merchandising—and start picturing them in different ways. “Why bother?” turns into “Why not?”

This year's entries in The Nationals showcase the best—and often, very expensive (one brochure costs $45 each to produce)—that builders have to offer prospective home buyers.

But the 10 pros judging the entries in the 25th annual award program of the NAHB's National Sales and Marketing Council also saw plenty of examples of individuals who were given something quite ordinary to work with, gave it their special touch, and turned it into something spectacular. Some others had hefty price tags, but more than paid for themselves in the traffic and sales they helped generate.

These are the types of projects we've gathered here for you. We talked to builders and marketing magicians who maximized golden opportunities and tackled challenges head on. Here are some highlights from this year's competition.