While traditional advertising still has its place, in this day and age, it takes something really unique to put a business on the map and get noticed. Customers are inundated all day long with sales and marketing messages that one more advertisement is usually just white noise. The upside is that if you can find a way to interact with customers in a different way, you have a great opportunity to grab their attention and grow your business. Here are 10 of our best off-the-wall ideas to market your business:
1. Sticker the town
Get some stickers printed up with your logo, website URL, phone number and a catchy slogan or image and put them in places where people aren’t expecting to see anything. Think about well-trafficked sidewalks, bus stops and windows. Just use caution when applying the sticker to make sure that it’s in a place that won’t cause damage or be seen as “graffiti”. You can also do something similar with sidewalk chalk messaging, coupons or flyers. The key is to show up in a unique way in a place where you are catching your customers off-guard.
2. Crazy business cards
In today’s technologically advanced society, it seems a like business cards would be a thing of the past, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. A great business card is an inexpensive piece of marketing that can be handed out to anyone who is interested. Why wouldn’t you use that opportunity to create something that will get you noticed. Think unique shapes, bright colors or animal prints. Anything that is different, clever or unique and will help people remember who you are and what you do.
3. Throw a party
Throwing a party is a great way to build some goodwill in the community and grow a loyal customer base as well. Think about major events that are going on and what you can do to celebrate (World Cup, Olympics, election night, etc.) You can also get creative and make your own event like a faux birthday party for an important historical figure in your industry or a National Pirate Day Party. Tie the party in with some free food, drinks and possibly themed costumes and people will be sure to come.
4. Have a contest
A contest can be a really fun way to get customers involved with your business. You’ll want to think about relevant themes, but don’t limit yourself. Things like Ugliest Kitchen, Cutest Pet, and Best Costume (for Halloween or other holiday) can all work well. Make sure you take lots of photos and tie them in with your social media accounts and encourage all participants to share the photos as well. Having a highly desirable prize will encourage people to participate.
Pro tip: If your prize is big enough (like a kitchen makeover or a dinner every week) and the contest creative enough, your local news might just pick up on the story as well. Make sure to call your local newspaper, radio and television stations with a story tip.
5. Institute random acts of kindness
This is an idea that will not only help grow your business, but it will help you feel good as well. Take any opportunity to do something kind and just let people know that it was done by your business. Things like buying the coffee for the person behind you, helping an elderly person with some yard projects or bringing some tasty baked goods to a local homeless shelter can be great ways to spread some goodwill in your community and foster a sense of goodwill about your business as well.
6. Incentivize social sharing
Social sharing is a great way to get your existing customers to do the marketing for you. Offer a discount on a purchase if your customers share their experience on any social media site. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are logical choices, but every person has their own favorite social network, so try not to limit the ways that people can share. Just make them show proof of the social share at the time of purchase and thank them with a nice discount. Word of mouth marketing could likely be the most cost effective and efficient marketing you ever do!
7. Teach people something new
When you run your own business, you are by default an expert in your industry. If you can find a unique way to share that expertise, you’ll very quickly build up a loyal following. Think about hosting a Saturday demonstration, hold classes for people to learn about what you do, put together a tip sheet or guide that people can pick up at your business location or just start a blog where you post relevant and useful information. However you do it, teaching customers something new will help showcase your expertise and you’ll build your reputation as the “go to” source.
8. Partner with local artists
Reach out to the local art community to create something unique and impactful that will attract the attention of potential customers. Whether it’s showcasing up and coming artists in your store or yarn bombing your local park or having local photographers help create a one-of-a-kind menu for you, working with those in the art community is a great way to showcase your business in a new and beautiful way.
9. Run a scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts are a tool that will get people in your store or shop in a really fun way. This can work a number of ways, but however you set it up, the goal should be to get people to interact with your business in a way that they hadn’t thought about before. One way you could do this is to partner with other local businesses for a larger-scale hunt with multiple locations. If your store or shop is large enough, this is a great way to get people to take a look at products that might generally be overlooked. A scavenger hunt can even be run online and will certainly help get people to less trafficked areas of your website.
10. Make your business a daily attraction
Make your business a place that people want to come back to every day and you’ve instantly built yourself a loyal customer base. If you’re a restaurant, feature a totally new, off the wall dessert or drink every day. Feature a new pun or quote on your outdoor signage every day. Have a secret password at a set location that changes every day, which gets customers “in the know” a discount on their purchase. There are so many ways to do this, but the key is to have fun and be authentic.
Growing a business is hard work, but it doesn’t have to break the bank and it can even be a lot of fun. Hopefully these ideas will help spark something for you. Best of luck and happy marketing!