When we wake up every morning, marketing experts predict we are exposed to 4,000 - 10,000 ads each day! From your branded body wash to the ads on the radio, podcasts, social media, television, in the newspaper, magazines and in your mailbox, we see and hear a lot of advertising, most of which we aren't interested in. So, we've gotten good at ignoring it. That's a conundrum for small business owners trying to make a living while competing not only with the big brands' budgets but also people's attention. What to do? How about trying some out-of-the-box marketing strategies? Here are 10 ideas you can personalize and run with:
Out of the Box Marketing Idea #1
Create a partnership with another business. This can be a complimentary product or service or can be based on location proximity. For example, a veterinarian office and a local pizza shop are side by side in a strip mall. They decide to have a Pet-za (pets and pizza) Promo. Both businesses ask their community to send in photos of their pets who look like, or are dressed up like their favorite pizza or pizza topping ("pup"peroni or pe"purr"oni, sausages, slices, etc.). The businesses tape flyers on the pizza boxes and attach to vet receipts, as well as promote and share images on social media. The local paper is contacted and a fun story with the photos is run the following week. This seemingly unlikely partnership has just gained a lot of attention with little effort or cost.
Who could you partner with?
Out of the Box Marketing Idea #2
Promote your business with either a sidewalk sign or chalk (make sure you aren't breaking any local ordinances first!). Use kind quotes (I.e. "Have a Great Day from Darius Dental"), or "Start Here" with a hopscotch followed by colorful arrows up to your business doors; "Best Banana Bread This Way", "Shop Small Business", etc. This is best for late Spring to early Fall to avoid the rain washing away your art.
Out of the Box Marketing Idea #3
Speaking of art... commission a mural on your building to attract people to photograph in front of it. People love a good photo op and will specifically come to your mural, whether they are a customer or not. Paint a set of wings, big crazy hair to stand under outside a hair salon, a speech bubble with a fun quote, or a graffiti version of your business logo. Use your creativity and it will pay off!
Out of the Box Marketing Idea #4
Host a contest or giveaway. This can work great for building your audience, engagement and brand loyalty. A contest usually requires a submission that will be voted on by others, while a giveaway doesn't require anything too complicated from entrants and is randomly selected. Select a goal for your contest or giveaway and then identify the rules, entry requirements and winner selection process. The contest or giveaway should be aimed at reaching your goal. For example, giveaways requiring submission to enter the contest are great for capturing prospect info and growing subscriber lists, while social media photo contests work well to boost brand awareness.
Out of the Box Marketing Idea #5
Create a hashtag or a meme. Do you remember the #shareacoke campaign from Coca-Cola? How about the #MyCalvins by Calvin Klein? And everyone remembers #IceBucketChallenge. Create a short, easy and catchy hashtag that aligns with your brand. You can also use images to create your own meme, poking fun at your industry. While memes and hashtags tend to have a short lifespan and can easily fall flat, you can definitely use them as part of your marketing.
Out of the Box Marketing Idea #6
Write a blog post with a Hot Topic. Ideas include clapping back to online haters, writing a response to a controversial tweet, scandals that you believe have negatively impacted your industry, Myths vs. Facts, a mistake you made and how you overcame t, or defend your stance on a divisive issue in your industry.
Out of the Box Marketing Idea #7
Set up a pop-up shop. Whether you co-share retail space for a day, a week or month with another local business, or you rent an empty brick-and-mortar store, you can use a pop-up shop to increase brand awareness and drive sales. You don't have to stick to retail spaces - to cut costs you can host at a residence, inside an office building, or even a winery! Get creative and use those business partnerships to create something great!
Out of the Box Marketing Idea #8
Host a Scavenger Hunt! Once again, use your connections to send people to various locations around town to win a prize. It can't just be any prize - it has to be worth something to get people to participate. You can design so the first person to complete wins a prize, or have it run over the course of a week and all participants who send in photos at the different locations will be entered to win (or make prizes for everyone). Because you will be driving traffic to various locations, make arrangements with those businesses to either hand out prizes as people come in, or be part of the Grand Prize. Have fun and get creative!
Out of the Box Marketing Idea #9
Sending handwritten cards in the mail is always a nice surprise. It's even better if you can include free samples of your product or an item related to your service. Or, if it's for an occasion, such as a birthday, send a birthday candle for them to make a wish, a tea bag with your company logo to wish them a relaxing day, or seeds they can plant to commemorate this birthday and show some love to the planet.
Out of the Box Marketing Idea #10
Host a sampler event. This is perfect for people who sell products that can be sampled. However, if you are a service provider or sell products that cannot be "sampled", partner with a local coffee shop, wine bar or restaurant to sample their menu with your top 10 clients (you can ask them to bring a guest as well).
There are many options to providing exposure for your business outside of the traditional marketing channels. Get creative, use those connections and find something unique that is fun and will gain attention.