Excellent marketing is like an ambush: The more surprising and impactful you can make it, the more likely it is to succeed. Creative marketing gets talked about simply because people feel compelled to share it. With social media such a part of modern society, this can mean hundreds and even thousands of free impressions from a single unique idea.
But where to start? Use the following as your inspiration.
1. Support Your Community
Parr Lumber, an Oregon lumber yard, sponsored a local youth soccer team only to find that their name was spelled "Parr Lamber" on the team jerseys. Rather than insist on a reprint at a cost that would exceed their donation, they ran with it. Over a decade later, locals still joke about going to "Parr Lamber" for their wood, and have a lot of respect for how the business handled it.
How can you leverage a mistake into a publicity win?
2. Broadcast Your Expertise
SEOWiSE is a company that coaches small-business owners on building a Web presence using a combination of SEO and social media leveraging. When founder John Ellis realized he could record and broadcast coaching sessions via Google+ Hangout on Air, he got the right permissions and made many of those sessions public. The result was a constantly updated, public demonstration of his expertise in action.
How can you put your best foot forward in the most public, useful way possible?
3. Be a Visible Volunteer
Giving time and energy to local charities is nothing new, but martial arts industry consultant Tom Callos takes the idea one step further. He encourages his clients and friends to leverage the energy and manpower available to the martial arts studio into large-scale good works for the local community; for example, promoting studios with a park clean-up or benefit drive rather than simple advertising. His clients have turned their martial arts schools into local hubs for volunteerism and good works, with one creating a leadership program that turned into a TED Talk.
What problems in your community can your business solve?
4. Know and Appeal to Your Audience
New Relic is an application-monitoring service based in Portland, Oregon, that understands its target market perfectly. Application monitoring is deep tech, meaning that the people who decide to buy such a service—or the people whom the deciders go to for advice on such services—are hard-core geeks. To appeal to its target market, the company started giving away t-shirts with geek-friendly themes and the New Relic logo to the CTOs and IT teams at target companies. People liked the t-shirts, remembered the logo, and some even turned into new clients.
What kind of giveaway can you create to catch the attention of your core audience?
5. Showcase Life Behind the Scenes
Behind-the-scenes action is one of the fastest way to build traction and interest among your fans and followers, whether you run a bar or a Fortune 500 company. Using a GoPro-style wearable camera, or simply grabbing video over the course of a day and broadcasting the results, has netted several professionals a wealth of shares, likes and retweets.
What parts of your business would your customers most like to see?
6. Get Really Creative
You've probably seen these on the Web already—The "Reserved for Drunk Drivers" parking spot with a tree in the middle of it, or the barbells-on-the-bus-handle ad for Fitness First health club. You've seen them because they're creative, clever and very shareable. You can find a humorous context for almost any business offering; you just need to learn how to leverage it.
Where can you find surprising context for your marketing message?
7. Become One With Nature
McDonald's in California let designer Sean Click plant California Poppies on highway barriers in the shape of its famous Golden Arches. This idea gets even more credit for creative genius, because in California, it's actually illegal to dig up this state flower.
How can you use the landscape to sell your product?
What's the most creative ad you've seen lately? Share with the community.
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