In a world where ROI and the bottom line rule marketing, sometimes it’s easy to forget about the fun, audacious, sometimes unconventional marketing tactics that probably drew you to the industry in the first place. We would never advocate that tracking your return on investment isn’t critical to the health and growth of your business; but rather, that we, as marketers, love to swing for the grand slam. For us, it’s all about finding the perfect balance between tried-and-tested marketing techniques and a few unconventional marketing tactics and campaigns with the power to disrupt the market and break through the clutter. Here are a few of our favorite awesome, unconventional marketing tactics.
1. Work for free:
When you pose this idea to your financial planning analyst, you may want to put a little marketing spin on the verbiage, but we’re just going to say it: you can get something for nothing. Offering a free consultation, inviting customers to try your services or products before they buy, doing pro-bono work, or giving high impact lectures (gasp!) for free can attract prospective customers who might have otherwise been on the fence. This technique works especially well for products that can’t be sold as a necessity, require customer education such as consulting or dietitian services, or are new entrants into the market. If you’re stuck on what might be of value to your target audience, lean on your marketing agency or advertising agency to do some research about what “hooks” – whether it’s features, face time with the CEO, or freebies – would get them in the door.
2. Take advantage of the halo effect:
It stands to reason that if you can be guilty by association, you can also look incredible by association too. The phenomenon in which a person or product enjoys increased brand association or a boost in perceived customer value thanks to alignment with another, more powerful or popular brand is called the “halo effect.” Established brands releasing a niche product sometimes use this to attract loyal customers to new markets, but any company can take advantage of this trend. On the local level, find charitable organizations, popular public figures or tastemakers, or trendy venues where you can host an event and start making connections. Most people and organizations are willing to exchange in-kind marketing collateral such as: access to shared email lists or exclusive discounts for your cross customer base when there is a mutually beneficial fit. This technique can scale all the way up to the national or global level depending on how dedicated you are. A good marketing agency will likely have pre-existing contacts and ideas on what might be a good alignment, so start there.
3. Build a memorable brand:
Do something quirky. Make mistakes. Be human. Even the most corporate, buttoned-up organizations can benefit from moments of humanity. Recognizing that there is a time, place, and audience who responds to this type of marketing and balancing it against more conventional messaging and imaging is key. Perhaps you limit the funkiness to your Snapchat or Instagram feed, or maybe you run simultaneous campaigns that target both sides of the same coin. A great example of an organization that does this well is Geico. Ask any millennial or hipster and they can probably cite several of the silly “Switch to Geico – it’s what you do” advertisements featuring everything from an addled Tarzan, to a dog stealing spaghetti from its owners’ plates. None of these ads mention the comprehensive asset protection or excellent customer service Geico has built a reputation on. That information is reserved for prospective customers looking for a quote or surfing their online space. What these ads do is disrupt a mature, saturated market and raise awareness that then drives prospects farther down the funnel and into exploration mode. Trust us, they are laughing all the way to the bank.
4. Everyone loves a themed party:
Think: product launches, fundraisers, new menu launches, release events, and more. The opportunities to host an event are near endless. Although the upfront cost and work of hosting an event can seem inhibitive, your marketing agency will help you offset this pain point and set measurable goals. Events often serve the dual purpose of raising brand awareness and generating leads. The trick is to host an event that speaks to your audience. Too often, organizations jump on an opportunity to attend an event without a clear understanding of who is actually in attendance. They generate leads by bribing unsuspecting bystanders to exchange contact information for freebies, but the quality of these type of leads is often low … people will do anything for a free t-shirt, right? Instead, get crisp on the type of customer you want to attract. If you are launching a new line of skincare products, consider hosting a spa party. If you’re releasing the newest issue of a community magazine, go for the hottest new venue in town. Everything from the theme to the event programming should speak to the people who would truly use your products or services.
5. Blog, blog, blog:
And then blog some more. This is such a simple, low-effort marketing technique with tremendous potential. All you have to do is consider the amount of amateur marketers and online celebrities who are consistently making thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, garnering huge followings, and receiving coveted brand endorsements to see the potential in blogging. Blogging is still often overlooked in the marketing mix because it is sometimes hard to quantify the return on investment and requires nurturing to build a readership. That said, it only takes one person to find a niche topic that attracts prospective customers and brand partners (see above and remember that halo effect) to start a blog. Any good digital marketing agency or content marketing agency can support your in-house blog writing to ensure your content is relevant and consistent. If you aren’t ready for the full commitment, consider writing guest blog posts that are popular among your audience to test the waters and build out a larger blog program from there.
These unconventional marketing tactics are not only fun – they are effective and are an excellent compliment to your traditional marketing campaigns and initiatives. It really is okay to think outside the box.