Marketing is not an exact science, despite what some experts may have you believe. Though there are many complex techniques you can employ to drive traffic and engagement it is impossible to accurately predict human behaviour 100% of the time. Analytics and data can help you to identify patterns and implement strategies but you can never rely on these factors as a guarantee of success. Therefore creativity is so important in marketing, both digital and offline. Some of the most well received campaigns have used unconventional techniques that fly in the face of everything you may have learned about how marketing “should” work. Here are five unusual but potentially effective marketing techniques:
1. Brutal Honesty
This phrase will no doubt cause many marketing professionals to experience a sinking feeling of dread. Creative language and presenting products in the most positive light seems instinctive whereas mentioning anything that could be construed in a negative way seems like a huge risk. This can be a risk that pays off, though as the consumer often appreciates the human touch a lot more than a over polished spiel about the numerous benefits of your product. In the UK, during the 1990s, a humble varnish manufacturer popularised an expression that is now synonymous with no nonsense marketing. “It Does Exactly What it Says on the Tin” was Ronseal’s famous tag line and this transparent, simple approach came to define their brand image. At the time, this flew in the face of convention as the dominant trends in TV advertising were either loud, hyperactive, hard sell style values or big budget, narrative driven pieces. The stark contrast and almost comedic simplicity of Ronseal’s approach made them a firm favourite with the public.
2. Embrace the Unusual
Trends matter to marketers and being aware of them is essential if you want to be competitive, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you must follow them. Unusual approaches and even downright weird marketing techniques can be extremely effective. Creating content that seems intriguing or even challenging can be a great way to stand out from the often bland and repetitious marketing landscape. Narrative driven video content can be especially effective, especially if you can engage your audience in a way that makes them feel as if they are watching a TV show, rather than an advert. Guinness, PlayStation and many other brands became well known for doing this, even in their shorter adverts. Flash mobs, living art installations, free samples and interactive games are just a few more ideas you could potentially employ. Though your campaign ultimately needs to drive engagement and conversion, it must also have personality and unique appeal to truly engage your audience.
3. Let Your Customers do Your Marketing for You
This takes confidence in your product and will require you to have established at least a small base of existing customers, however, it can be one of the most effective ways to allow a brand to grow organically. Encouraging user reviews, videos and blogs can build a community around a product or brand and despite all the advances in digital marketing techniques, simple word of mouth or peer endorsement still matters. Influencers can be a good way to get this started as they will often provide reviews or comments in return for a freebie, but you can also go a step further by encouraging every day users to get involved as well. Since the rise of user generated content, many people now feel more comfortable sharing their opinions online, whether in writing or in video form. Another example is the gaming world, where many users enjoy creating and sharing content based on existing products or titles. The rise of “modding” has created a micro industry. Ultimately, you are trying to engage your customers in such a way that makes them feel compelled to connect with others and create something themselves.
4. Issue a Challenge
This is a bold move and it will only be appropriate for certain industries, but this unique approach can stimulate a powerful response in a potential customer. Issuing a challenge grabs a person’s attention immediately and many famous campaigns have enjoyed success by doing just that. The fitness and self-help industries are two examples of markets that thrive on challenging customers to use products or services, rather than gently persuading them. Rather than leading with the list of potential benefits, campaigns in these sectors often features lines such as “Are you up to the 30 day challenge?” or “Do You Believe in Yourself?” These are powerful, emotional triggers for many people, which is why they can so be successful. Though its important to get the tone right, appealing to your customers sense of drive can be extremely effective, especially if you are ultimately trying to offer them something that will provide significant benefits to their health and overall wellbeing.
5. Offline Marketing
This doesn’t necessarily have to be boring leaflets or flyers that nobody really looks at, there are all kinds of ingenious ways to use physical marketing to help give your campaign a boost. Things like free stickers can be great, especially in industries such as music and street food. Independent record labels frequently give away free stickers to their customers and the most successful will enjoy a huge peak in engagement. Instagram, twitter and Facebook posts showing where users have placed their stickers have the potential to go viral and even a few hundred shares can be enough to raise brand awareness. The most successful offline techniques are also the most memorable. Using experiences, rather than things is a great way of engaging with potential customers in a way that helps you stand out. Hosting a live music event, comedy show or quiz might not seem like a good way to drive conversion, but it can help to promote your brand and build reputation. This kind of event also gives you the opportunity to sell to potential customers directly, hand out promotional products and gather valuable feedback in real time.