What comes to mind when you hear the word “marketing”? What about “branding”?
Both of these words probably invoke a strong response; they are, after all, two of the most important tasks that lie ahead for anyone who’s hoping to establish their brand, particularly in a crowded industry.
But for anyone who dares to think outside the box, guaranteeing a great return on investment is not just possible, but likely. It’s still going to take some work, but if you choose to explore some forgotten or underappreciated tactics for establishing your brand, your success might just surprise you. Here’s three methods to think about.
Underrated, but Not Forgotten
It’s the year 2015, and blogs are a strange beast. The world was introduced to blogs way back at the beginning of the World Wide Web, and they’ve played an important role in the way the Internet has developed over the years.
Blogging may, in some circles, still be synonymous with angsty millennials airing their grievances on BlogSpot, but the truth is that blogs are experiencing a renaissance—and this time they’re playing an important role in branding.
Consider the blogs of 12 Keys—a renowned chain of rehabilitation clinics—and Quincy, a company that specializes in compressors. Both of these businesses walk in very different circles, but what they have in common is a practically masterful use of the blog.
I’ll say it as simply as I know how: blogging is an underappreciated way to establish your brand. It’s not about making the hard sell; instead, it’s about providing resources for prospective customers: a way to answer common questions or provide insight into what your product or service has to offer, or even how it’s made. If your company doesn’t have a blog yet, it’s probably time to start one.
The Sky’s the Limit
Even though Internet marketing commands the budgets of most modern PR departments, physical advertisement is still playing a significant role in business development in America.
In fact, so common is this practice that it’s given rise to something entirely different: “guerrilla marketing.” You can see some terrific examples of guerrilla marketing here, including elaborate sidewalk displays and interactive billboards.
Some of these displays might look like they could cost an arm and a leg to develop and implement, but as you’ll see from some of the above examples, sometimes all it takes is a well-chosen location or some striking imagery to capture the public’s imagination.
Because the truth is, many American consumers have grown bored and jaded with the sort of marketing that happens on our screens. Pop-ups ads and Flash banners have their place, but if you really want to engage in some marketing that will net you a great return on your investment, something more visceral and personal might be what you’re looking for.
How to Build a Movement
If you really want to think differently about what it takes to make a statement in your industry, sometimes you have to take things back to the basics. I’ll give you an example.
You may have heard of Chipotle: a rising star in the fast food world. What’s remarkable is that they’ve achieved this level of name recognition by almost completely shunning traditional marketing channels. In fact, Chipotle didn’t air a TV commercial until 18 years after their incorporation.
Instead, Chipotle is creating a significant contrast between their media presence and the methods favored by their largest competitors, such as McDonald’s and Taco Bell. Consider that TV commercial I mentioned earlier. Instead of a barrage of doctored photographs of food, Chipotle chose to focus instead on another message: their commitment to civic responsibility.
And frankly, this approach feels exactly right in a world where the world’s most savvy consumers—millennials—are quickly growing impatient with traditional media campaigns, calling them (among other things) “less authentic.”
The truth is, branding and marketing are less dependent on deep pockets than ever before. Instead, the most successful campaigns are built with a combination of determination and out-of-the-box thinking. If you’re the owner of an up-and-coming business, you’ll probably be surprised by what’s possible when you put yourself in the shoes of the people you’re trying to reach.