Small business owners know that marketing their brand is pivotal towards achieving commercial success. Through marketing, you can spread the word of your business throughout the community and build brand recognition. At a certain point, however, basic marketing strategies – handing out flyers or brochures, cold-calling potential customers, sending out mass emails – lose their effectiveness. If your marketing techniques feel tired, and if consumers consistently know what to expect, perhaps it’s time to rethink your marketing approach and venture outside-the-box.
What is Outside-the-Box Marketing?
If you’re looking to grab attention, consider doing what your competitors aren’t. Create campaigns that are going to reverberate inside your customers’ heads; campaigns that people will be giddy to talk about when they sit down at the dinner table with family and friends.
Outside-the-box marketing strategies work because they are memorable. Mental associations, once they are formed, tend to stick around. Create that linkage, and sales will follow.
Why Should Small Business Owners Implement Outside-the-Box Marketing Strategies?
- Outside-the-box marketing strategies are a sure-fire way to get people talking about your brand. Marketing strategies can only take a business so far. However, word of mouth can deliver an entirely additional layer of exposure (at no cost to you!).
- By doing things in a drastically different manner than your competition, business owners can set their brand apart from the lot. Every business is different, and by utilizing unexpected marketing strategies, you can accentuate how your brand is what they aren’t.
- Implementing outside-the-box strategies into your pre-existing marketing plan can assist in developing a unique persona for you and your brand. People tend to remember things that are fun (and slightly outrageous) especially well. Prompt individuals to build mental associations between attributes like these and your brand. Doing so will put you well on your way towards building a loyal consumer base. And, loyal consumers will return to your service time and time again.
What Might Outside-the-Box Marketing Look Like?
Outside-the-box marketing tactics come in many different shapes and sizes. Here are some ideas (and examples of how brands have implanted these ideas) to get you thinking about what kind of measures might work well for your business.
Put your social media presence to work by highlighting user-generated content (UGC). UGC is any content that is created by consumers. Consider how Wendy’s utilized UGC and their Twitter presence to increase brand exposure several years back.
Wendy’s & the Infamous Chicken Nugget Tweet
In 2017, 16-year-old Carter Wilkerson posed an innocent question at Wendy’s Twitter page. “How many retweets would I need to receive a year’s worth of free chicken nuggets?” Wilkerson asked. Wendy’s response: 18 million.
Wendy’s received a boat-load of free publicity by making the engagement on social media. This ‘marketing campaign,’ if you will, came at no cost to the company (minus the cost of some chicken nuggets) and resulted in an incredible amount of exposure.
Entice Customers to Act as Brand Ambassadors by Offering Rewards or Giveaways
Like the concept of utilizing UGC to increase brand exposure, offering rewards or giveaways builds upon the premise that word of mouth via customers is a viable way to create positive mental associations and get people talking about your business.
How The Morning Brew Makes their Customers Work for Them
The Morning Brew is a news organization that sends out free daily emails that inform subscribers about the happenings of the business world. To incentivize subscribers to share the newsletter with family, friends, and colleagues who might take an interest, The Morning Brew offers a set of cool prizes. As you can see from the graphic below, the more readers one refers, the better the prizes get.
Prizes range from access to a premium Sunday edition of the newsletter to a free trip to the company’s headquarters.
Because customers are referring people they know are already interested in reading about the world of business, The Morning Brew doesn’t have to worry about wasting resources advertising to populations who might not be interested in the service. Furthermore, with this model, growth will increase exponentially over time.
Increase the Interactive Nature of your Marketing Campaigns
Consider augmenting certain interactive elements into your marketing campaign. When customers feel as though they are playing an active role in the development of your brand, they are more likely to return to your service. Giving back to customers via discounts, promotional expenditures or surveys is a great way to accomplish this goal.
Chobani’s ‘I Dream of Creamer’ Campaign
Chobani is stirring up the creative juices of their customer base with their ‘I Dream of Creamer Contest.’ Launched in February of 2021, the contest invites anyone and everyone to submit an idea for a coffee creamer flavor they would like to see the brand produce. And, to the winner of the contest, Chobani is offering up $75,000!
This campaign rakes in publicity for the businesses and is trend-worthy on social media. Moreover, it is quirky and different – inviting customers to have a little fun and enjoy themselves. By creating that mental association, customers are primed to return to Chobani in the future.
Showcase your Humanitarian Side
A fourth and final avenue worth pursuing to add some spice to a tired marketing campaign involves showcasing your business’ humanitarian side. Giving back to the community can garner some good publicity. Also, doing so can better your brand’s reputation as a whole. Tangentially, by showing customers that you and your brand are passionate about doing good and conscientious of the world beyond the bottom line, you can develop that all-important sense of transparency.
(Check out this article to read more about alternative marketing strategies.)
What Else Should Small Business Owners Know about Outside-the-Box Marketing?
Business owners should consider implementing unusual or outside-the-box marketing strategies alongside or in place of their pre-existing practices because doing so provides extensive latitude for brand growth. However, it is worth noting that there is some risk inherent in outside-the-box marketing strategies.
Ideas – especially well-thought-out ones – can take significant time and money to conceptualize and develop. As with SEO-based marketing, businesses may not reap the results of a new marketing plan immediately because these strategies take time to build up and information takes time to spread. Like all things business-related, there’s no guarantee that your original intentions will come to fruition.
But don’t let this qualifier slow you down. Business leaders who devise unique marketing strategies can be confident that as word spreads, that strategy might just be the key to scoring a copious number of new customers and elevating the brand’s reputation exponentially.
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