4 Marketing Ideas That Are Sure To Make A Splash

Business in a slump? Hear how four innovative companies have reinvigorated their marketing strategy.
Business Writers
July 29, 2011

Feel like your marketing has fallen flat? Not to worry, there are several ways to liven things up and get your customers reengaged with your business.

Feel free to steal these cool ideas.

Hitch your company to a star

Lindsey Harper is the founder of Swayable, a mobile phone app that lets you ask your followers or friends to vote by posting two photos, along with a short question explaining the dilemma.

After she launched the app in April, she noticed that tweens and teens were the largest audience. Her marketing hook was a no-brainer: Tweens = Justin Bieber. Harper created a Bieber Twitter fan site and Facebook page that she populated with about facts, tidbits and trivia about the teen idol. Harper paid less than $100 for editorial use of two Bieber photos through a licensing service, and combed news reports for tidbits that she rewrote. Then she began to include Swayables in the Facebook and Twitter feeds in order to introduce kids to the product.

"I figured out a way to reach my target audience by giving them content they want to consume and then slowly introducing my product as a way to consume that content," Harper says.

The result: Traffic tripled each month and downloads grew exponentially.

"It's working insanely well, traffic continues to grow, and it costs me about $100 a month to manage this full campaign. Nothing I've paid for outside of this has worked nearly as well," Harper says.

Steal this

If you want some stardust to rub off on your brand, make sure you stay on the right side of copyright laws. Snagging photos, video or music without permission will get you the wrong kind of attention. And implying that a celebrity has endorsed you is a big no-no.

Blog posts, newsletter articles and tweets about celebs who appeal to your customers are fine. Get creative with contests: Let customers vote on a new Kristen Steward gelato flavor, or ask them to design Brad Pitt's man cave using products from your electronics store.

Mobilize your customers

Brent Thomas invented BikeWrappers, a reflective wrap for bicycle frames that increase night-time visibility of the bike to motorists as much as a quarter-mile away.

Because he's based in San Francisco, home to thousands of avid cyclists, Thomas held a treasure hunt to introduce his product. He announced the hunt on the company blog, Facebook and Twitter, telling people to stand by for the appointed day. Then, he released the GPS coordinates of five sets of BikeWrappers hidden around the city, and fans raced to get there first.

In addition to increasing local awareness of the product and picking up followers, the promotion was picked up by several blogs, bringing the company national attention.

"I learned that people love free stuff. It was a creative idea to get some press and give out some free product," Thomas says. He also saw a 200 percent increase in sales from the BikeWrappers website.

Steal this

Thomas' promotion was a simple race: Whoever got to the five hidden BikeWraps first won; the race makes sense for his athletic target audience. You could ask people to find urban treasures like an historic marker or beautiful architectural detail, checking them off on a printed card.

Use this tactic to get people into a retail location by making it the end point of the hunt. Welcome anyone bearing a completed card with refreshments, freebies and a tour of the premises. Take photos of winners and post them to social media.

Ease customers' pain

Last year, Ptex Group, a marketing and business services agency, wanted to boost customer retention and enhance customer service for its clientele of small to mid-sized businesses.

President Meny Hoffman says, "We asked ourselves, 'What is the most painful thing for a typical small business owner?' The obvious answer was, 'Paying the bills!'"

Now, along with every outgoing invoice, clients receive a colorful postcard with a New York State $1 scratch-off lottery ticket glued to it. The card says, "With Ptex Group, You're Always a Winner!" Copy includes a "Winners Hotline" phone number and encourages lottery winners to call the company and share the good news; this also encourages positive interaction with the brand.

Since starting the program, Ptex Group's accounts receivables and payment collection time frames have improved by nearly 27 percent. Of the thousand or so lottery tickets sent out with invoices, more than 250 customers have called the "Winners Hotline "to report their winnings. The average winning amount is $5, but one lucky client won $100.

"Instead of dreading that familiar invoicing envelope, people are actually looking forward to receiving it in the mailbox. Customers have commented that they called Ptex Group to request additional services, in part, because they wanted to receive more invoices with lottery tickets," Hoffman says.

He adds that clients help spread the word about the company by telling their business associates and friends about how much they enjoy getting the invoices plus lagniappe.

Steal this

If you send bills, this $1 investment can get your customers to open them with excitement instead of dread.

Give something extra

Reliable Respiratory, a distributor of breathing equipment for conditions including sleep apnea, wanted to spice up the collateral its sales reps handed out. The solution: Tiny bottles of Tabasco sauce imprinted with the company's name and contact info.

" I brainstormed with the sales manager to figure out why the company is ‘hot’ and how it could tie in with home health care," says Stanley Hurwitz, principal of Stanley Hurwitz/Creative Communications. "We decided to pitch two timely angles in healthcare, cost containment and compliance."

Because the space on the bottle for customization was tiny, the company glued the bottles to cards saying, "We’re HOT on cost containment and compliance.” Reliable bought 720 of the mini-bottles (five gross), which cost approximately 50 cents apiece.

Sales reps got such a great response from the healthcare offices they called on that the company extended the program to patients, including a bottle and card with every delivery of equipment.

"The concept was featured in a few home health industry magazines. We got great buzz on all fronts," Hurwitz says.

Steal this

Look around you for cool items that can tie in with your company's message. Instead of custom imprinting, simply add a sticker with your company logo, message and contact info. If you can order large quantities, ask a local promotional products company to scout something unique just for you.