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Do the terms “guerilla marketing” (this guy knows his stuff) or “outside-the-box marketing” mean anything to you?
If they don’t, let me help you. These are marketing efforts that go beyond the typical marketing handbook and go straight to the people you are trying to reach. It’s simple, effective, and will always do the trick… if you do it correctly. And doing it correctly can be difficult.
Some of the “guerilla marketing” strategies include flash mobs, graffiti, and even sticker bombing. Don’t know what these are? That’s okay, because we won’t be talking about those. Those methods are most likely not right for your business (they might be, but that’ll depend on your mission). The key to any marketing plan is to convert consumers into customers, but with outside-the-box marketing strategy is imagination and creativity, not money, to achieve that goal.
The most important thing to think of when starting your low-cost, “guerilla” or “outside-the-box” marketing strategy is to never lose focus of your brand, your type of business, and your beliefs about your business, strategy, and goals.
Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Rosaura Ochoa via photopin cc
Social media? Really, Genevieve? Absolutely, but hear me out, because it’s all about how you utilize social media that brings you to another level. And it’s that higher level that you want to be at. In fact, social media will most likely play a part in every aspect of this article.
Recently, Kotex had a little epiphany on Pinterest. Pinterest is becoming one of the most widely used sites in the world, so it’s no surprise that Kotex, a women’s brand, would go to a site that is predominately visited by women. Many businesses have taken to Pinterest, but Kotex did it right. As part of its “Women’s Inspiration Day,” Kotex found 50 female Pinterest users’ pages, learned their interests, then sent each a personalized care package. The users then pinned all over the place, showing what Kotex had done.
If you’re a small business, chances are that you can’t do that exactly. Kotex is a huge company with a huge brand, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do something equally as imaginative.
We’ll use this as an example because it is relatively low cost. People in your local area probably love to go to high school sports games. Whatever sport is most popular will be the one you want to target. Shoot a low-budget short film that shows highlights from the team’s season, as well as a player or coach endorsing your product in a subtle way. If the stadium they play at has the capability, you could show it on the jumbotron. If not, you get the video to show at the local malls, on the Public Access channels, or anywhere else you think the people you are targeting will be.
The idea here is to go where the people are, have them see you in the community doing something that is mutually beneficial to you and the school. Then, the people of the community will search the video (because that is what communities do), where you’ll be waiting with it on your social media pages and website. It brings people back to your site and social pages, which means you are more likely to make conversions and sales. But remember, it’s all about what you’re selling, your brand, and your beliefs.
With this, think of “viral videos”. It’s all about creativity and imagination, and the more creative and imaginative you are, the more people will want to watch it.
Dig Deep with Grassroots
Grassroots campaigns are the hallmark of many organizations. This method utilizes people (preferably people sympathetic to your brand – so be careful here) on the ground spreading your message and trying to get conversions. To this end, think of non-profit organizations that stand on the sidewalks and ask you to fill out forms. You could even consider magazine salesmen part of a grassroots campaign.
The most successful grassroots campaign in recent memory is the Barack Obama Hope and Change Campaign from 2008 and 2012. He won the elections, didn’t he?
Many people believe the people on the ground helped him win the 2008 election. He got the younger demographic all riled up and excited about the prospect of hope and change, and they got out there and spread his message. Of course, it also had to do with his unprecedented social media presence.
The way a grassroots campaign can help your business is by putting the product at the top of your potential customers’ minds, getting your company’s message out into the public, or just to promote your brand. For small businesses, doing any of these (or all three) is crucial to building a customer base.
Flyers can work for this, but people tend to overlook flyers they are handed on the street. Do you often look at the flyers that are handed to you. This can seem intrusive, but it can also be effective in that people are holding your information in their hands.
Setting up booths at local events or setting up your own local event is also very effective. To make this even more effective, you should consider bringing on other businesses in your area that also want to get their message out there. It also helps keep costs low. Just make sure they aren’t a rival company…
You can set up shop outside your business or somewhere else you have license to be, and give away free products, set up competitions, or bring some type of entertainment (this can be expensive, but it shouldn’t be hard to find a local band that would do it for cheap). Be sure to have some type of credit card processing for mobile phones (trust me on this one, you’ll need these while you’re out “in the field”) when you’re out there, as well. As many people don’t carry cash on their person anymore, it’s important to take the point of sale directly to them.
While it may seem that there are limited options for a grassroots marketing campaign, there actually many, many options out there, but, again, you just need to conjure up a little creativity and imagination to make them work for your business.
What’s the Buzz?
Have you ever managed your own garden? Maybe, maybe not, but you at least know the basic principles of growing a garden, I’ll assume. With any garden, you must plant seeds first, then water them, watch them grow, and make sure you are attentive enough that they don’t die on you.
If you’re budget is tight, why not plant a few seeds in the minds of your potential customers.
This type of marketing is often called “Buzz marketing”. It’s also one of the most cost effective marketing strategies out there, but you have to be careful.
An effective buzz marketing campaign, or word-of-mouth marketing campaign, creates “buzz” for your company. But rather than let other people create the buzz, which can be negative, you create the buzz and manage its spread around the community. This can be accomplished with a grassroots campaign, or you can send an employee or volunteer to spread the word about a particular product, service, or just your brand, in general. The difference between here, though, is that the message you have sent out grows organically in the community as customers and consumers spread the word themselves.
Buzz can also be created online. Facebook allows “Likes” and Twitter offers “Retweets” that will send your message across the web like wildfire. These can also be seeded to fit what you want to say. If you give one of your employees the “buzz” and they tweet it out to their followers, which then gets tweeted to their followers, and the tweet eventually makes it back to your Twitter account, you’ve won.
Spotify (the free music player) and Facebook are good examples of buzz marketing. With no formal marketing, these companies utilized word-of-mouth marketing to get their brand out there. Both were also organic, in that it didn’t take a concerted effort by the company to get the brand out there.
By all means, avoid misrepresenting your brand. Remember that no matter how clever you think your new marketing campaign may be, if it causes a bad stir in the community, your brand will most likely suffer.
With that said, while creativity and imagination are tantamount to a successful marketing campaign, it can also lead to a misrepresentation of your brand if you’re not careful.
Here’s a little example for you:
Dr. Pepper is pretty reputable, right? Absolutely. We all know Dr. Pepper. It’s not quite cola, it’s not quite root beer. In 2007, the company ran a competition to see who could find a real gold coin worth $10,000. The larger competition was for a jackpot of $1 million. Seems pretty good, right?
Dr. Pepper proceeded to bury the coin in a Boston cemetery where somewhat famous people like John Hancock, Paul Revere, and Samuel Adams were buried. Soon thereafter, the company had angered Bostonians to the point where major parts of the city were shut down. The cemetery was closed, and Dr. Pepper closed the competition and promised to pay any security costs the city incurred because of the competition.
That’s not good for business. There are many examples of this type of marketing gaffe.
Grassroots campaigns can’t be too needy or aggressive, or your consumer base will be turned off by your company.
If you are trying to create buzz, make sure the buzz doesn’t become like a game of “telephone.” Make sure your seed doesn’t die, and keep re-seeding if you need to.
Remember that you need to control your message as much as possible, and you can do that by always keeping in mind your goals, your beliefs in the brand, and the brand itself.
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