ADVERTISING is usually the most important element in any brand marketing plan, but many companies are finding that other approaches are also effective. Some have pursued these approaches out of necessity, being unable to support national advertising campaigns, while others are just more innovative than most in developing their marketing repertoires.
Following are some examples of nontraditional marketing techniques:
- Special Events. Community-based and grass-roots events are especially favored, such as Adidas holding streetball festivals and track and field clinics.
- Proactive Publicity. This can be one of the most powerful and cost effective marketing tools. Publicity is free, approximately six times as many people read articles as read ads,2 and articles are more credible as they are perceived to be third-party endorsements vs. self-promotion. And the average salary of an in-house copywriter is very low compared to the average ad agency fee for creating an ad. Here are some examples of proactive publicity:
- When Hallmark launched the industry’s first personalized, computer-generated cards, they sent cards to talk show hosts.
- EasyJet invested a large portion of its marketing dollars in a lawsuit against KLM, claiming unfair competitive practices, positioning itself as the underdog on the side of the public.
- Trivial Pursuit marketers sent games samples to celebrities featured in the game and to radio personalities who had an affinity for trivia.
- The Peabody Hotel in Memphis has ducks march out of the elevator down a red carpet to its lobby fountain twice a day with great fanfare under the direction of the Peabody Duckmaster. Hundreds of people watch and take pictures, many of which are posted on social media.
- Outrageous Marketing Breakthroughs:
- A nonprofit organization, whose mission was to encourage woman over age 40 to get mammograms annually, wanted a message that would “break through.” I suggested they feature a bare-chested woman with a double mastectomy on outdoor signs along major highways, using shocking copy such as “Over 40? Don’t wait until it is too late. Get a mammogram today.” Or, “Which pain is worse? Over 40? Get a mammogram today.” (Imagine the buzz this billboard campaign would create.)
- To create buzz about the movie Frenzy, Alfred Hitchcock floated a dummy of himself down the Thames River.
- In the “Will It Blend?” campaign, Blendtec demonstrated the power and durability of its blenders by posting a series of YouTube videos of its blender blending everyday items (an iPhone, marbles, baseball, crowbar, Bic lighters, Super Glue, etc.).
- Taco Bell quietly conducted nationwide research to find twentyfive men across America named Ronald McDonald, and featured them in television and web ads enjoying items from Taco Bell’s breakfast menu.
- Brand as a Badge. For this technique to work, the brand must stand for something the consumer wants to say about himself or herself. Examples: the Nike swoosh; Mercedes-Benz; FootJoy: The Mark of a Player; and Tesla Motors.
- Cobranding. Kmart and Martha Stewart, Hallmark Confections and Fannie May Celebrated Collection.
- Ingredient Branding. Dolby, NutraSweet, Intel, Kevlar, Lycra, Nylon, Gore-Tex, and Culligan.
- Comarketing with Complementary Products. Identify organizations with which your target customers are likely to interact at the same time that they might be ready to buy your product or service. Better yet, find a quality branded product that your customers would use in conjunction with your product. Best, find another product that matches these criteria and that provides complementary distribution opportunities. Examples: bundling a free sample of a washing detergent with the purchase of a new washing machine, or accounting firms referring clients to financial service firms and estate planning attorneys, and vice versa.
- Contests. Crayola Kids Coloring Contest and new crayon color contest; Mars Inc.’s “Choose the next M&M color” contest.
- Being Helpful while Building the Brand. The Charmin SitOrSquat mobile app helps people find clean public restrooms all over the USA.
- Brand Magazines and Newsletters. Crayola Kids, Martha Stewart Living.
- Network Marketing. Primerica, Sprint’s Framily Plan, Amway, Mary Kay, Avon, Tupperware.
- Colossal Ads. The 500-foot-high working Swatch watch draped from the tallest skyscraper in Frankfurt, Germany.
Excerpted from Brand Aid, second edition available at Amazon.com.