Anthony Basile

Marketing is a game of attention. It’s all about using the tools at your disposal to get your audience’s eyes on your brand. Of course, marketing is complex and multi-layered, but sometimes a simple idea can unlock exciting new possibilities. For example: Your list of marketing tools is longer than you may assume.

Just because you’ve never used a marketing channel before, that doesn’t mean you can’t get great results with it in the future. You can accompany all the standard types of content — blog posts, white papers, short video, social media marketing posts, email marketing — with new and novel offerings.

By experimenting with both content and form, you can make your audience take notice, whether you’re targeting consumers or fellow businesses. In a field based on winning attention to build brand awareness, that’s an enormous leg-up.

7 Types of Marketing You Don’t See Every Day

So, what exactly does it mean to go beyond standard types of marketing? This is often a question of finding new places to present your brand’s message, and to work in new forms and media.

For instance, thinking outside the box could mean going with physical, real-world marketing materials in an intensely digital age or going the other direction and embracing new technology. Whatever you and your competitors are currently doing, there may be value in reacting against those norms.

The only real requirement around implementing a creative marketing idea is that you stick to solid fundamentals. You should still be engaging in strategic planning and analysis to make sure your campaigns are performing well, even if they’re more offbeat or unusual than your normal offerings.

By its nature, out-of-the-box marketing is varied, so no list of innovative marketing ideas can ever be comprehensive. With that said, here are seven fun and interesting concepts to get your brainstorming session going:

  1. Interactive content like quizzes, polls and games: Interactive digital marketing solves one of the major issues with more general content marketing. Namely, it encourages people to pause for a moment and engage, rather than simply passing by.

    If you offer up a poll where customers want to see the results or a fun, tempting quiz, you’ve created a great hook to keep people engaging with your brand. Just remember not to make the advertising aspect of the content too strong. After all, playing a game with branded elements can be fun, but interacting with a thinly veiled commercial, less so.
  1. User-generated content campaigns: Contributions from your customers can be great additions to your lineup of marketing content. A user-generated content campaign provides value in two ways. First of all, it gives you access to a stream of new material without having to spend your own employees’ time on creating the images, videos or social media posts. Second, it delivers credibility, because the testimonials aren’t coming from you, but from real users of your products and services.

    And what do the users get out of this? They gain a platform, and a chance to reach an audience of fellow customers. Just make sure to keep a close eye on these campaigns — an influx of content about your brand, but not created by you, can risk you losing control of your message, to potentially embarrassing ends.
  1. Experiential marketing events: When huge portions of the day are lived in front of screens, whether performing day-to-day tasks on work PCs or scrolling through social media platforms on smartphones, breaking out of that online space can be a marketing cheat code. Giving your audience some face-to-face time with your brand at pop-ups or longer-lasting immersive spaces is a way to communicate directly with a wide audience.

    Of course, experiential marketing has its limits — the geographic reach of an in-person event can never compete with a digital campaign. If you can reach a significant portion of your audience with a live pop-up, however, it’s worth investigating. People may appreciate the chance to unplug and “touch grass,” and your brand can be there for them when they do.
  1. Branded entertainment releases: Marketing doesn’t have to be all business. You can create content that’s explicitly designed to be fun, thus associating your brand with well-produced media. Podcasts, live streams and web video series are a few of the formats you can try out, depending on your team’s skills and your audience’s interests. Even in the business-to-business space, there’s room to put entertainment first, through a few different methods.

    A series that offers a fun glimpse behind the scenes at your company can humanize your brand and potentially attract new recruits. Educational content where you show off your thought leadership and expertise can prove interesting and enlightening for highly engaged members of your industry. Whatever your exact field may be, you likely have something fun to share.
  1. Cause marketing and socially conscious campaigns: Becoming engaged in your community and supporting good causes can build a strong, appealing brand entity when done right. Showing that your company cares about the world around it and is interested in more than profits is a strong, inspiring message. With that said, it’s important never to make social causes an afterthought in marketing, to make sure you don’t seem insincere or opportunistic.

    Every area and industry has causes that need help, and that could make an effective match for your brand. Environmental issues and community groups can benefit from companies’ philanthropy. It’s worth noting that these are not marketing efforts in the traditional sense, but rather extensions of your brand into supporting worthy causes.
  1. High-tech experiences with AR, VR and more: By offering tech-saturated content marketing experiences, you can tap into a pure form of novelty, giving audiences something they haven’t seen before. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) may be good mediums in this regard, though it’s worth noting that development efforts on this tech have been back-burnered amid industry-spanning AI mania.

    With that said, you don’t need a dedicated piece of hardware to give your potential customers a little “wow factor” via technology. Adding AR elements to product packaging, for instance, is a way to interact digitally with your customers, and the most common AR interaction device is a normal smartphone camera.
  1. Sponsored or branded street art: Associating your brand with compelling, beautiful outdoor art is a great way to integrate yourself into your community. Commissioning a skilled creator to work on a piece for your company can forge a connection with the artistic community while also producing impressive work.

    As with other unorthodox marketing methods, it’s best to handle art with care and compassion. Think about what kind of piece you’re putting together, and square away the details of the location. Stories about ads being painted over beloved existing artwork don’t count as good press for the companies involved.

These seven are just the beginning of the innovative marketing strategies you can implement. Don’t be afraid to experiment as you find creative, bold ideas that help your brand thrive.

Why Out-of-the-Box Marketing Ideas Work (And How You Can Use Them Effectively)

If there’s one concept tying together bold, out-of-the-box marketing methods, it’s effort. The old standbys are old standbys for a reason — they’re reliable, and your marketing department is probably ready to execute them at a high level. So why branch out?

The main motivator is the need to make an impression. Today’s customers have a wealth of choices — no matter what particular sector you operate in, you’re likely competing with a long list of rivals, each of which with its own marketing strategy. Being different, unique and dynamic is a way to make your name memorable amid a flood of high-quality materials and campaigns.

Don’t Forget the Audience

The North Star for your innovative marketing campaign should be your target audience. While the content you’re producing may break from the norm, it can be important to stick with best practices behind the scenes, performing market research and tracking audience metrics the same way you would for a more conventional campaign.

The value of a creative content marketing offering comes from its ability to make your potential customers sit up and take notice. If they’re not responding, it’s not the end of the world — but it is potentially a sign that you should pivot. There’s always a new creative marketing idea waiting for you to try out, just one brainstorming session away.

Leave People Wanting More

Some of the innovative marketing ideas we’ve discussed aren’t as explicit as other, direct styles. Branded entertainment or socially conscious marketing, for instance, don’t have the hard-selling power of a TV commercial. There’s nothing wrong with this difference, though. The content is simply leading your customers down the funnel to deeper engagement and purchases.

An unconventional marketing strategy is also a great source of brand awareness. Interesting, entertaining and informative content can bring your name and logo into spaces that would otherwise be off-limits to marketers, with audiences willingly seeking you out. It’s hard to put a price on this kind of appeal, and that’s exactly why you should consider chasing it.