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This article could be summed up in a single phrase: thinking outside the box.
You’ve probably already read about all your PPC, email marketing, SEO and such. And while these strategies are great and can really increase your conversions, you might want to do something to truly stand out.
Here’s where the unconventional marketing strategies come in handy. These can be either the growth hacking-style, high risk and high reward strategies or twists to widely used tactics.
All of them have one common feature: they require a creative approach.
In this article, I will show you eight ways, in which you can approach marketing differently, creating unique channels of communication with your customer base.
The list of unconventional marketing strategies we are going to cover in this article:
1. Get creative (and weird) with your content
Spitting out great and valuable blog posts is an amazing marketing tactic. But is it enough to get your customer numbers through the roof? It’s not very likely.
A good idea would be to try and approach your content from a completely different angle. Have a look at what Snickers did to solidify their new slogan: “You’re not you when you’re hungry”. This is only one of several clips done for the purpose of this campaign, but it’s definitely my favourite! Starring Rowan Atkinson impersonating the cult Mr. Bean it is truly an ad that stays in your head!
Great marketing needs to be loud. It needs to make your brand stand out. And most of all – it needs to sell the product! And that Snickers ad does it perfectly. It increased global sales and recognition for an easily recognizable brand that was on the market for 80 years.
You need to be careful with shocking content though. It’s easy to cross the blurry border between shocking-funny and shocking-controversial. The second one can only bring losses to your business – you don’t want that!
Examples? Just type in “controversial ads” on YouTube – there will be more than enough evidence!
Keep in mind that if you want your brand to be reimagined, a single ad won’t do. Have a look at Dollar Shave Club, a razor blade subscription service. In 2012, they released a video named “DollarShaveClub.com – Our Blades Are F***king Great”, which up until today gathered 25 million views. But they didn’t stop at that. Have a look at their blog. It’s filled with stories that seem reckless and funny, just like the video! “In praise of sitting while you pee”, “The cultural history of sweatpants” or “Men sniff their fingers after scratching their balls because it makes them feel alive”.
Bordering on obnoxious and gross, these articles are actually… informative. And entertaining, that’s for sure! With witty and original graphics and gifs, Dollar Shave Club’s blog is simply a great online place to visit. All this – the video and the blog – create a coherent brand identity. No matter how fun or how nonsensical your content is, there needs to be a strategy behind all that. You need to provide something more so that when someone stumbles upon your video, they can visit your blog and have more fun! That’s truly one of unconventional marketing strategies that can be executed with great impact – all it takes is a great initial idea!
2. User-generated content
I do realize it sounds a bit like asking people to do your content for you. There’s however much more behind that.
Imagine you are in the gaming business, the eSports to be specific. What would be your idea for a content strategy? Probably some tournament streams, compilations of best kills or “top 10” articles. While that’s great, you need something that would give you a more direct contact with your audience.
How about asking them to send you their top plays?
The well of ideas is truly endless when it comes to user-generated content. You could ask fans to take over your Instagram. You can also use Facebook reviews on your website to boost a sense of your brand’s reliability. Or feature stories of your customers’ successes achieved thanks to your business.
Although the user-generated content is one of the more unconventional marketing strategies, it can create a much stronger bond between your brand and your customers. Business, after all, is all about creating meaningful relationships and there’s no better way to do it than to engage in a conversation!
3. Don’t be afraid to show the truth
A couple of months ago a Polish food blogger released a collaborative video together with McDonald’s. The purpose of the video – to debunk some of the notorious myths concerning this chain’s food and to answer the questions asked by the blog’s followers. A company representative took the viewers to the kitchen and talked about the eggs, meat, bread, the oil or why the coke tasted better.
McDonald’s did a similar action in Canada, where they asked their customers to send in questions, to which the company later answered.
Now, transparency is important. It is one of the foundations of customer trust. But churning out facts about your business is not that convincing. Imagine if McDonald’s simply released an article or a video describing their production process. A one-sided approach could never possibly have such an impact as a two-sided conversation, or rather – a company’s response to the needs of its customers.
Even if the truth behind your company is quite grim and can harm your business or deter some of the customers, it’s a good practice to reveal it and become transparent. Maybe it’s also the time to improve and change, eh?
4. Have a persona
A success of a lot of marketing strategies, both online and offline, depends on having a good speaker. This, of course, doesn’t apply to written content or videos with no voiceover. However, for things like top 10 compilations, podcasts or appearances during various events, it’s crucial that you have a face and a voice behind your company.
Imagine sitting through a 10-minute compilation video where the speaker does nothing else apart from reading the script. Snooze-fest, isn’t it?
Now, imagine a charismatic voiceover done by a person with a quick wit and a convincing, and enthusiastic voice that keeps you engaged with the video until its very end.
WatchMojo.com is a popular YouTube channel, which specializes in top 10 lists. The voiceover in each of the videos is consistently provided by the same voice actors despite overtime changes in content layout. It gives a sense of familiarity and comfort – people simply know what to expect from WatchMojo.com. At the same time, the narrative is really engaging and gives the whole channel its unique personality.
Another example is TechCrunch – an online media organization devoted to tech, startups and the Internet news. Their daily Crunch Report features several hosts, but one of them – Tito Hamze clearly stands out due to his charisma, banter and an ability to convey information in a truly engaging and entertaining way.
The ability to convey stories and emotions with promotional videos can do a lot for your brand. Keep in mind that people are always going to trust people more than businesses. Having a persona might seem like one of the unconventional marketing strategies, but to be fair, it just makes your brand more human.
5. Give free stuff away
This sounds more like it belongs among the controversial and harmful tactics rather than unconventional marketing tactics. But read on, it can be highly effective!
Giving away free stuff can mean two things.
The first is organizing contests with prizes. This is a typical and not really unconventional marketing strategy used to drive customer engagement.
The second one is literally, giving away free stuff.
Have a look at various social media scheduling tools like Buffer or HubSpot. They all offer basic free plans along their normal, paid ones. Or Neil Patel’s Quick Sprout – a website optimization tool. It can be used for free, but you can also pay a fee for a more effective service. Another example – artists from Bandcamp, a music promotion platform, releasing their whole albums for a “Name Your Price”. This can be any price, from $0 to however much you’re willing to pay.
So how exactly can businesses benefit from releasing their software and tools for free?
It’s so much easier to convince people to join you if you provide them with an initial incentive in form of a free product. If they like it, they will be much more inclined to pay for a better version. If they don’t, and they cut their subscription, you can ask them what they didn’t enjoy and based on that feedback, improve!
6. Merge the offline with the online
Sounds like some sci-fi stuff, doesn’t it?
It, however, boils down to such basic stuff like putting up a massive poster with a QR code on a wall of a building you like. Most of the smartphones have a built-in QR reader and most people have smartphones. On a busy day, that’s thousands of potential customers walking past your ad.
There’s an element of exciting mystery to that as well. Scanning the code, you’re never entirely sure what’s going to appear on your phone’s screen.
7. Reach out to famous people
By this, I don’t mean contacting Johnny Depp to do a photoshoot or film an ad for a clothing line. That’s conventional to the bone. And we’re looking for unconventional marketing strategies.
Let’s look at the latest Viceland show starring a popular rapper – Tyler, the Creator. It’s filled with banter, it’s entertaining and most importantly, it can bring to Viceland a new group of viewers – Tyler’s fans!
Paradoxically, the famous people you might collaborate with can originate from backgrounds separate from yours and your strategy will still remain successful. Why is that? Well, bringing new audiences, encouraged by the presence of their favorite celebrity is a success in itself, isn’t it?
But it goes deeper. The presence of a celebrity can do a lot for improving your brand image. You will be seen as more relatable and more out there. Remember what I’ve said before – people trust other people. They also relate to other people – not to businesses or brands.
8. Use live video and stories
Live video is currently blooming and will be at the forefront of digital marketing in 2018. Stories? Well, there’s this meme that sums up the topic perfectly.
How can you use them to boost your brand?
Live video is perfect for Q&A sessions. You can also use it to stream some exciting events that are related to your business.
Stories are most widely used by Snapchat and Instagram. Use them to do exactly that – tell a story. Think of something characteristic, that’s related to your brand and that’s relatable to your audience.
Stories can be enriched with links to your website, exclusive offers and deals or even bits of interactive content (like the Instagram Stories polls). There’s really a lot to achieve when it comes to customer engagement.
In this article, I covered eight great unconventional marketing strategies that can really boost your business at a small cost. All of them include a smart approach to marketing and a fair deal of thinking outside the box.
Customers like new, exciting ways companies approach them. Although it can be risky to put money and time into one of the unconventional marketing campaigns, the return can extremely outweigh the potential losses.
It’s also worth noticing that many of the strategies I outlined are focused on the video content. Video is currently the buzzword of not only content marketing, but marketing in general. You should definitely consider producing some clips, even if these would be simple and short – videos drastically improve your conversion rates and are simply more adapted to the needs of contemporary users.
To sum up – think about how you can approach marketing in a different way! Your business can really benefit from that!