Part one, which can be found here, delves into the whys of outside-the-box marketing. In part two, we’re going to take a deeper dive into the how. How are brands like HQ Trivia and Chik-fil-A making effective, cost-efficient marketing decisions? How can you make similar outside-the-box approaches work for your small business?
Before we jump into all that, a quick refresher.
Outside-the-Box Marketing Strategies – What are they and Why Should Your Small Business Implement them
Outside-the-box marketing goes beyond the basic social media page or blog post. These approaches are unusual, and they’re a bit wonky. But, that’s exactly why they are so effective. Outside-the-box marketing grabs and holds the attention of your customers, and that’s never been more important.
According to Forbes.com, the average American is exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 unique ads between the time they wake up and the time they hit the hay.
If you’re not standing out, you’re being left out.
But, there’s hope. Unconventional, unique, and memorable approaches to marketing ensure you and your business won’t be lost in the blur.
Your Small Business Needs to Implement Outside-the-Box Marketing Strategies
Exceptional outside-the-box marketing approaches are effective for three reasons.
1. They Set Your Brand Apart from the Lot
Differentiate your small business from the other ten that sit along the same street by taking a non-traditional approach to marketing. No two businesses are alike, and by highlighting the differentiating factors between you and the competition, you can emphasize how you are what they aren’t.
2. They Allow Word of Mouth to Work for You
Handing out flyers or distributing emails en masse are only so effective. Once consumers know what to expect, they tend to pay less and less attention to you and your brand. Flip the status quo and create something unexpected. When your customers go home at the end of the day, your wildly entertaining promotion be that thing they’re so excited to tell their family and friends about.
3. They Build Mental Associations
Consumers tend to return to the brands they remember, so create something memorable. Consumers will be inclined to return to your services in the future once the mental association is formed. If that association relates the mission of your brand to your unique, fun approach, all the better!
Examining Successful Brands Taking Outside-the-Box Approaches
How HQ Trivia & Robinhood Make their Customer Work for Them
HQ Trivia – a trivia video game app – and Robinhood – a financial service that offers commission-free trades via a mobile app – have implemented marketing strategies that utilize pre-existing customers as vehicles to increase brand exposure.
For users who refer friends to play, HQ Trivia will doll out ‘free lives’ (essentially a second chance, should you answer a question wrong). Similarly, Robinhood will provide a share of a random stock, free of charge, to users who refer another individual to create their own portfolio on the app.
Putting consumers to work as brand ambassadors is an ingenious marketing strategy for several reasons.
Customers are referring those who they know are interested in the stock market. As a result, no resources are wasted marketing towards disinterested populations. Furthermore, with this model, growth will increase exponentially over time. As more individuals are referred, the network grows, leading to even more referrals.
Utilizing User Generated Content (UGC)
Content created by the user is readily available to those business leaders who have an established social media presence. And at no cost at all!
In order to capitalize on UGC, it’s important to stay on top of current social media trends. For example, memes and TikToks – though they may seem trivial or inapplicable for business purposes – could be worth investing some time and money into, if you know your target demographic interacts frequently with this kind of media.
Blendtec’s ‘Will it Blend?’ Campaign
Back in 2007, Blendtec – a company that produces commercial and residential blenders – launched their ‘Will it Blend’ Campaign. The campaign featured Blendtec founder, Tom Dickinson attempting to blend unusual objects, and posting the results on a YouTube channel.
The marketing campaign quickly went viral. As Dickinson put it, “The campaign took off almost instantly. We have definitely felt an impact in sales. ‘Will it Blend’ has had an amazing impact on our commercial and our retail products.”
The concept was absolutely absurd, imagine the person who pitched this idea in the marketing team meeting! How could videos of blending up Justin Bieber dolls actually translate to sales? But, the campaign blew up because of its absurdity. People saw the videos, found them outrageous, sent them to friends, and word spread.
Chik-fil-A, Cow Appreciation Day and the Art of the Interactive Campaign
As if they needed to provide further incentives to bring customers through the door, Chik-fil-A annually hosts Cow Appreciation Day. The idea was born back in 2005 and has since blossomed into a nationwide quasi-holiday. On the second Tuesday of each July, any customer who goes to a store dressed as a cow will receive a free entrée from Chik-fil-A. According to the brand’s website, in 2018 almost two million customers grabbed their udders and procured some free chicken!
Chik-fil-A is accomplishing several goals simultaneously through this unusual marketing strategy. The campaign rakes in great publicity for the business and is trend-worthy on social media. Moreover, the campaign is quirky and different. It invites customers to have a little fun and enjoy themselves. Customers are primed to return to the brand going forward because of this association they’ve formed.
Crafting Your Own Outside-the-Box Strategies
When considering how you can adapt one of these approaches to fit your own marketing model, keep in mind the importance of personalization. Personalization matters because proving to your customers that they are your top priority makes them feel valued. It will also entice them to return to you down the line.
In addition, consider ways in which growth mechanisms can be built directly into your product. Is it possible to apply the referral program utilized by HQ Trivia within your business?
Lastly, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to embrace some weirdness. Unusual campaigns tend to work because they are unusual (remember those cow udders?), taking chances that seem outrageous may just pay off in the long run.
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