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8 Unconventional Marketing Tactics Every CMO Should Take Advantage Of

By Adam Torkildson

It’s great if you’ve been using the traditional, popular marketing tactics that every other business in your industry trusts. However, these strategies tend to plateau after a while. They can also become expensive for a typical marketing budget.

If you’re looking to cut costs and see better results, it might be time to reach for some unconventional (often called guerilla) marketing tactics. Doing so requires a focus on creativity and resourcefulness to reduce your marketing budget while boosting your ROI. If you’re having trouble thinking outside the box, here are eight guerilla marketing techniques worth considering:

1. Leverage Reddit

Reddit is a somewhat underrated marketing tool with potentially high ROI for marketers. It’s basically millions of groupings of content-sharing platforms aimed specifically at certain niches. You can find conversations surrounding the products and services you offer and share detailed content and links to your website from the simple platform.

It’s likely that there’s a subreddit conversation surrounding your specific products, and you can leverage the existing audiences through these conversations.

2. Go Against the Grain

Customers like people who are willing to be unique, even weird, when it comes to their marketing tactics. It makes them stop in their mindless digital scrolling to take in a new, engaging piece of content.

You might post an edgy meme, create a strange commercial, or begin a campaign for the weirdest high school photos. Fun, creative topics that are less than typical will attract attention.

3. Start Handing Out Awards

Just make up an award and start handing it out to your followers. It’ll attract media attention and potentially set you up as a more credible business.

The best thing about this tactic is that it’s versatile. You could take a silly approach, handing out awards like “The Best Handlebar Mustache” or “The Most Spectacular Trampoline Fails of 2019.”

Or, you could make a serious endeavor, creating real awards for companies or individuals to truly honor them. For example, if your company sells eco-friendly products, you might create an award that recognizes someone for their efforts in helping the environment, such as a college student who started a movement to clean up her hometown beach.

These awards—silly or serious—can really connect you with people. You’ll play on their emotions and give individuals much-needed attention. Giving attention to one person on a regular basis can increase engagement across your entire audience.

4. Get Followers to Share Your Products

You don’t have to create all of the content for your products and services yourself. You can also make use of content that others have produced, such as your users, brand advocates, and social media followers. User-generated content might prove vital to your campaign, since it comes from the people who actually use your products and services, and they know best what to highlight for other users.

There are many ways to collect user-generated content, including but not limited to:

  • Hold a contest for user-generated content. Offer them a tangible prize as an incentive.

  • Encourage followers to use a branded hashtag. Make sure that the hashtag is unique or features your brand name.

  • Have a “Featured Followers” spotlight. Regularly reach out to followers and ask permission to repost their content on your feed.

  • Invite an influencer to do an account takeover. Choose somebody trustworthy who makes high-quality content.

  • Make your products Instagram-friendly. For instance, look at the Share a Coke campaign, with its customized bottles that people love to show off.

Best of all, it’s no cost to you because your followers will foot the bill and make it for you. It will also bring your community together and give them a greater sense of closeness through participation.

5. Steal Traffic

Stealing traffic may seem strange, but there’s really nothing illegal or event unethical about it. Your audience is out there listening to conversations and engaging with content in your industry. Why not take advantage of existing traffic rather than trying to create it from scratch?

There are many ways to steal traffic, such as using trending hashtags or leveraging online traffic associated with an event. You could start by using a tool to monitor brand mentions, trending hashtags, or conversations in your industry so that you can target your campaign accordingly.

For example, if your company sells tech gadgets, you might leverage the existing traffic surrounding the yearly Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Post updates about the event, gadgets you’re excited to see, similar products being presented that are in your show, and photos of you or a team member attending the event.

The traffic already exists around these conversations—you’re simply grabbing it and using it for your own marketing purposes.

6. Make Public Art

Hire someone to design an artistic advertisement, whether it’s in your storefront window or on a billboard. The above-average artwork will draw the eye and show that you truly care about your followers.

A popular trend in public art marketing is sidewalk chalk. Whether you have a storefront and use your sidewalk to illustrate promotions or you write out a promotion on a city sidewalk in a public space, this can generate a lot of engagement and attract an audience in and of itself.

7. Give Something Back

Don’t forget that you are nothing without your customers—let them know how much you appreciate them. You can generate more business simply by saying thank you for what you’ve already made.

Giving back can be as simple as sending a thank you letter, but many successful businesses go a step further and give a gift. You could send a coupon to your dedicated customers at Christmas time, donate to a charity of your followers’ choice, or send a swag gift in the mail.

8. Start a Movement

If your audience is passionate about something, use that to your advantage when marketing. This passion usually brings out a lot of engagement, which will raise brand awareness across all media platforms.

For example, an audience passionate about animal rights might enjoy a campaign to help find homes for animals in a kill shelter. You can generate good will as well as sound marketing leads by recognizing the passions of your customers and acting upon them.

CMOS and all digital marketers in general are trying to connect with their audiences. A human connection strengthens the bond between you and your audience and makes it easier to market to them. Empathy is key. Read “Being Human: How H2H Marketing Forges Strong Customer Relationships” to see how you can be more relatable and make more of a marketing impact.

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