In a world where it’s more common for someone to have their nose pointed at a screen than the environment around them, advertising is focused on reaching through the screen and grabbing the consumer’s attention.
However, not all people are enamored with their smartphones. Some generations prefer to leave their phones in their pockets, and even those who are normally tuned in are opting to power down in favor of mindfulness and presence. Tech-tired populations are unplugging more often, and interactions with the world are becoming a priority.
Digital marketing is by no means fading away, but the power of unconventional advertising can shock a consumer’s system enough to be more memorable. Opportunities to catch a customer’s attention aren’t limited to the screen, and with more people looking up, the audience is growing. If you want to set yourself apart from the competition but are fresh out of social media content, consider branching out into the real world and reaching a new segment of audience you haven’t catered to yet.
Beyond the world of newspapers and flyers lies an entire segment of advertising that you can touch, interact with, or even sit on. Companies have gotten creative with their marketing tactics and taken over everything from escalators to the side of boats in the name of setting their brand apart.
When you’re assessing physical environments for advertising opportunities, make sure you consider who you’re trying to reach. Sure, one of the goals is to widen the reach of your product, but that only helps if you’re reaching people who will actually engage with your product and not just giggle at your ad. Advertising on the side of a boat is great when it’s for something everyone needs (like food) or for a lifestyle product relevant to the population in a marina, but it’ll fall flat if you’re trying to reach the average Joe.
When you’re trying to reach a wide audience with a product that applies to a decent chunk of the population, target high-traffic areas that a variety of people will see. Bench advertisements can be aimed at those in public transit areas or open spaces like parks — everyone needs to rest once in a while. Similarly, bus banners will be seen by those who use public transportation as well as those driving or walking along roads, or even people glancing out windows.
Contrary to what the name implies, this isn’t just jumping out of bushes and throwing your product at people. Scare tactics don’t usually go over well. However, surprising a consumer by having your brand show up where they least expect it is not only novel, but occasionally amusing.
One particular facet of guerilla marketing is perhaps the hardest to pull off, but one of the most effective: ambush marketing. Ambush marketing takes advantage of a crowd already gathered somewhere, a sponsorship that’s already in place, or some other promotional opportunity that wasn’t originally intended for your brand.
In the 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremonies, the man selected to light the flame also happened to be the owner of a small athletic clothing business. Adidas was the official sponsor of the games, but audiences assumed the man was dressed in his own line, despite being decked out head-to-toe in the actual sponsor’s gear. The small Chinese clothing business saw a jump in sales after the television appearance, despite no money being spent on a marketing campaign with the Olympics.
Your brand may not have an Olympic event to take advantage of, but searching for guerilla marketing opportunities is often worth the effort. When used correctly, you end up with free exposure without expending any money — all it takes is thought.
Advertising campaigns spend a lot of time and energy looking at audiences, demographics, and hypothetical wants and needs of the consumer and figuring out how to capitalize on that information. While capturing the attention of customers that you don’t have yet is one surefire way to grow your business, if you turn your attention inward, you might just find your business growing as a result.
Before you try and figure out how to catch the eye of new people, make sure that you’re meeting the needs of your current customers. If your line of work isn’t conducive to cutting-edge campaigns but is still something everyone needs, like home maintenance companies or medical services, a solid reputation in the community can make up for what you lack in entertaining advertising.
This means doing more than just avoiding bad reviews and creating a baseline of satisfaction. You want to make sure you have the best customer service possible, that you provide honest, candid information to your customers, and that you’re going above and beyond the call of duty. People notice things like that, and when they notice, they tell their friends.
Word of mouth and a strong community reputation are invaluable to a brand. If you have people recommending your services, even if it’s a once-in-a-while service like appliance repair, you’ll see steady referral business. If you hear a customer bragging about the service they received or encounter an exceptionally thankful customer, ask them to leave a review online to show their support; it’ll help convince new customers of your company’s value.
At the end of the day, as cliche as it is, creativity wins. If you can elicit a response from a possible customer (or a current one), they will remember you. It can be mentally taxing trying to be new and different all the time, but the effort pays off in the case of advertising. If you build a strong business from the inside out, and then seek unique ways to get in front of your target demographic, you’ll begin to reap the rewards.