It’s becoming increasingly important for small businesses to try new and innovative types of advertising to reach prospective customers. This is especially true for startups that have limited budgets and little to no brand name recognition.
Many businesses in various industries have found that their audience has become immune to many traditional advertising approaches. Television audiences, for example, are inclined to tune out commercials or turn the sound down. What’s more, Internet users have become so overexposed to certain forms of online advertising that most of them barely register at all.
If you want your message to stand out, try to think of new ways to connect with your audience in places that are unexpected. Think outside the box when planning your next advertising campaign.
Though there’s certainly a place for traditional advertising, there are also exposure opportunities offline. The following are some ideas to keep in mind when experimenting with innovative offline marketing strategies.
Create fortune cookie ads.
At my company, Fortune Cookie Advertising, we found a way to take advantage of the widespread popularity of fortune cookies and turn it into a marketing tool. One campaign that we launched using this strategy was on behalf of the Missouri lottery. Since restaurant patrons are accustomed to seeing “lucky numbers” included with their fortunes, tying this in with a state lottery was a perfect fit.
Hire a sidewalk artist.
Street art, once considered to be the realm of outlaw graffiti artists, has since become quite trendy. Street artists such as Banksy and Shepard Fairey are now celebrities in the art scene, and this fact has not been lost on the advertising world.
In Europe, this has been taken to an extreme with 3D street art ads. In the UK and France, for example, mainstream brands such as American Express and Müller have commissioned 3D ads that are eye-catching works of art in addition to serving as effective advertising. You may not be able to afford anything quite so elaborate, but commissioning a mural painting on a wall or a sidewalk could do wonders for brand recognition.
Deploy modern guerrilla marketers.
The term “guerrilla marketing” was coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in the 1980s, but the concept remains as relevant now as it was three decades ago. A guerrilla marketing campaign can be anything unexpected, especially something that challenges people’s preconceptions of what advertising is.
The best guerrilla marketing catches people by surprise and appears to be something else, like a daredevil stunt or spontaneous performance. Some types of guerrilla marketing involve dramatic and extreme stunts.
For example, in 2012, energy drink company Red Bull used a skydiver to deliver its message, resulting in a viral YouTube video that got more than six million views. A less dangerous form of guerrilla marketing includes a flash mob, where a group that appears to be strangers spontaneously breaks into a performance while delivering the company’s message.
To inspire more creativity for your next ad campaign, study other creative campaigns and proven advertising principles. At the same time, market your business in a way that’s unique to you.
In a way it’s ironic that advertisers turn to offline marketing to “think outside the box” nowadays. While you still can be cutting-edge and creative with online marketing, the offline world still offers many untapped advantages — not the least of which is that your audience is exposed to your message while walking around in the real world.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Yan Revzin is the Co-Founder of Fortune Cookie Advertising, a non-traditional and experiential marketing company selling advertising space within fortune cookies at Chinese restaurants throughout the United States. Connect with @fortunecookiead on Twitter.
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