Why Brands Should Be Marketing Opportunists

Marketing and advertising for big brands can be a lot of fun – especially when your competitors leave the door wide open for you to take advantage.

With social media ready to take any great content viral at the drop of a hat, it pays (now, more than ever) to look for opportunities to make a bold, witty, sarcastic, or profound statement about… well, anything.

And while it’s a lot of fun to see big brands duking it out in their ads, there is nothing stopping small businesses using current events to market themselves too.

In fact, making witty and engaging content that relates to current affairs is one of the best ways to ensure your content generates plenty of buzz, and ultimately high rankings in search engines, and all the other benefits that go along with being a popular brand publisher.

What’s nice about opportunistic marketing is that its the message that counts. You don’t need a big marketing budget to compete with your wits.

This article is going to look at a few examples of how being opportunistic (i.e. being aware of your competitors and leveraging their strengths and weaknesses to your own advantage) can really pay off.

BMW vs. Mercedes

This example comes from two leading car manufacturers competing in the South African market in the early 90s.

Mercedes came across an amazing true story of how a driver plunged 100 meters off Chapman’s peak drive (on the outskirts of Cape Town), and survived.

Their marketing department did a great job of making a fairly profound statement about the quality of Mercedes with this ad:

A good ad, that sent a powerful message – made all the more powerful because it was true.

But, it probably took the people over in BMW’s marketing department all of ten minutes to come up with a fantastic opportunistic ad of their own. This BMW ad aired a little while later on South African television:

Pretty cheeky – the inference being that a BMW will stay on the road when a Mercedes won’t. But, a great example of how being opportunistic in marketing can turn your competitors strengths to your own advantage.

Finding contemporary marketing opportunities

As a tactic, businesses looking to market and advertise their brands – especially online, via social media – need only keep a sharp wit, and an eye on the news.

A great example of the type of issue one might exploit for gain is the recent horse meat fiasco suffered by Tesco’s in the U.K. You can check out the news headline on the BBC, entitled Horsemeat scandal: Tesco reveals 60% content in dish.

In case you aren’t aware, it was discovered that over 60% of the meat in Tesco’s bolognese was contained horse DNA.

Naturally, the British, who view horses more as companions than food, are outraged. And, despite my personal disgust in the whole issue (I mean, think carefully about what processed meat you’re eating – it could happen to you too), this is marketing pay-dirt for anyone willing to step out on a limb.

Spoof marketing ideas

In response to the horse meat debacle, I could imagine another grocery store brand or burger chain putting together a low budget ad, made for YouTube, that has the punchline:

So hungry you could eat a horse? Tescos, we’ve got you covered.

Another one I saw recently:

Have you heard? Now traces of zebra have been found in Tesco barcodes.

How about:

My daughter has always wanted a pony, so I’m buying her a Tesco Quarter Pounder for her birthday.

One could go on all day, but the point here that this issue has plenty of juicy potential for creating powerful marketing and advertising with plenty of social equity.

Benefits of marketing opportunism

The point about being a marketing opportunist, regardless of whether you are a huge brand, or a small business, is not only about capitalizing on other people’s misfortune.

Instead, it’s about showing that you are connected. You know what’s going on in people’s lives and you are talking to them in a language they understand, are interested in, and are familiar with.

Building a marketing and advertising campaign around issues that people are familiar with gives you a step up, right from the get-go. Let current affairs set ‘em up, and you knock ‘em down.

If you can take familiar issues and present a surprising perspective, or something funny and entertaining, people will respond positively.

As a marketing strategy, it’s much more energy efficient to take inspiration from what’s happening in the world today, than it is to constantly try come up with something entirely new.

What is your take on marketing opportunism? Do you think it works, or is it too gimmicky for your business or brand?

Share your marketing tips and ideas in the comments.

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