As someone with a company that specializes in nontraditional advertising, I have found that it’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to find new and innovative types of advertising to reach their customers. This is especially true for smaller companies and startups that have limited budgets and little to no widespread name recognition.
Many of the businesses I work with have found that their audience has become immune to many traditional approaches to advertising. Television audiences, for example, are inclined to tune out commercials and/or turn the sound down when they appear. What’s more, Internet users have become so overexposed to online advertising, in the form of annoying pop-ups and banner ads, that most of them barely register at all.
Though there’s certainly a place for promoting the latest devices through online advertising methods, you can often find more creative and original exposure opportunities offline. Because computer, tablet and smartphone users have come to expect a constant barrage of ads wherever they surf, the offline world is once again becoming attractive territory for marketing and creative advertising. The following are some principles to keep in mind when experimenting with innovative offline marketing strategies.
Find New Ways to Reach People
People are accustomed to seeing ads in familiar places: on billboards, on TV and on websites. If you want your message to stand out, try to think of new ways to connect with your audience in places that are unexpected.
At my company, FortuneCookieAdvertising.com, 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 people are accustomed to seeing “lucky numbers” included with their fortunes, tying this in with a state lottery was a perfect fit.
Think outside the box when planning your next advertising campaign by tying it to an event (like the lottery) and considering new opportunities beyond traditional ads.
Use Street and Sidewalk Art
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.
Smaller businesses may not be able to afford anything quite so elaborate, but they may be able to get a mural painting on a wall or on a sidewalk.
Look to Modern Guerrilla Marketing
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.
Make Your Advertising Campaigns Unique
It’s always a good idea to study other creative advertising campaigns as well as proven principles of advertising. At the same time, it’s essential to market your business in a way that’s unique to you. If you are inspired by tactics such as fortune cookie advertising, street art or even having someone skydive into the street, you can find ways to tailor such methods to suit your particular brand.
In a way it’s ironic that advertisers almost have to 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.
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. Follow him @fortunecookiead.
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