One of the challenges faced by many small businesses is that of competing with bigger businesses in the world of marketing. Big businesses have large amounts of money to spend on marketing strategies that small businesses don’t, but all is not lost. There are other ways to make your business visible, to attract interest, and subsequently to obtain new customers even with a limited budget.
Unconventional marketing, in particular, enables small businesses with lower budgets to produce an impact. Also known as guerrilla marketing, these strategies aim to take your core message and present it in a unique way that wins the attention of your target audience. Read on for some unconventional marketing ideas that can help you spread the word about your business and attract new customers, despite the larger competition.
Related: Marketing Without a Budget
• Promote a cause important to you as a business or close to your customers’ hearts. You may even reward contributors to your fundraising efforts with a special discount or gift.
• Run a “Who needs your business the most” contest, where people can nominate themselves or others in need of your services to get them for free. For more constest ideas, check out How to Do an Instagram Giveaway.
• Put a catchy sign or ad in a place where people will see it, such as at traffic lights, in bathroom or food lines, or in waiting rooms. See if you can center your messaging around waiting, patience, or any other emotion people in this place is likely to be experiencing.
• Pull off a publicity stunt like a flash mob to surprise and delight people in a memorable way.
• Try coming up with images of your product or service being used in a completely unexpected way. A baby at the wheel of a vehicle or a dog using a smartphone, for example. Just make sure your messaging can tie back to your product.
• Make some YouTube videos. They don’t have to be professional promotional pieces. Simple homemade how-tos, tutorials, or even funny videos like “You know you’re a [common label for your target audience] when…”. This is a great way to connect them and reinforce your knowledge about them. Just be sure to use a harmless label that they are proud of or self-assign.
• Get your car wrapped with your logo and contact details.
• For brick and mortar companies, have a novelty at your store such as a pinball machine, a store pet, or juke-box that makes for fun times, memorable experiences, and a reason to come back.
• Give passersby or social media followers something to think about by presenting a fact or riddle of the day, whether on your storefront or your social media accounts. You can even make a contest out of it.
• Run a local scavenger hunt for items related to your business, industry, and community. Bonus points if you can partner with a local nonprofit to help raise funds for it.
• Have a mascot in your store, whether a live pet or something plastic or stuffed.
• Organize a community service day to get people involved in bettering the community around you.
• Attract people to your website by turning offline features into online features, such as a dressing room, drive up window, or tour.
• Give out decals for cars, laptops, or water bottles. Make them unique to your business, but attractive enough that people will want to decorate their personal items with them. Try a fun graphic, witty slogan, or other captivating element.
• Keep a fishbowl in your store where people can submit their business cards. Select a card at random on a regular basis, such as weekly or monthly, to receive a free prize. This will also help you to collect contact information for potential leads.
• Hold a client appreciation barbeque to say thank you and how much you appreciate your best clients. This is great for you and for them to network.
• Create an event that is out of the norm for your business and your customers, such as an adult fun night for preschools or a kids create night for interior designers.
• Use catchy titles for promotions, like “Change your brakes, save a life.”
• Arrange for industry experts to come into your store to give talks or workshops about subjects related to your business or important to your audience.
• Start a collage in your store or online and encourage people to send you (via direct mail, email, or social media) funny or interesting photos related to your product or service.
Incorporate guerrilla marketing strategies into your marketing system and see how you can pack a punch without breaking the bank.