It’s completely OK to be a little crazy
If you ask an owner of a small enterprise which expenditure they are most reluctant to make, chances are quite a few will mention marketing. This is understandable. It’s much easier to estimate and calculate potential gain when new equipment or technology is introduced. Even investments in human resources are more tangible than those made in getting the world to know more about your company and its offer.
Still, does that mean that small businesses need no marketing campaigns and that their products and services just need to be good and affordable enough that the clients will eventually find out about them? Nothing could be further from truth.
Not only do people have to hear about you, but they need to do so now. If you postpone it till the next week, you are running a risk of your competitor presenting their offer first. If what you have is not significantly better or cheaper, the customers will probably decide to stick with whoever was there first. For you, that might be the difference between running a successful business and closing your company down.
On the bright side, you need to know that expensive campaigns don’t guarantee positive results. Nowadays, it’s your idea, your creativity and originality and a little help from social media that can achieve more than any other combination. Let’s look at some ideas that might have seemed strange when first suggested, but which have not only improved the image of those companies, but also increased the number of their customers.
30 Nights at the Museum
When the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, USA, organized a contest, where the first (and the only) prize was an opportunity to live one whole month in a room, which would be part of an exhibition at the museum, thousands of people submitted their entries. Needless to say, the number of followers on social media skyrocketed and many local and national stations reported the news.
What the chosen person had to do was just live there and report their thoughts and experience using Twitter, Facebook and other similar platforms. Quite a good salary was offered in compensation. As a result, the number of visitors rose more than expected, bringing more money to the institution. The money has been used to improve the quality of exhibits, while the positive image and vibe created are still present. So much, in fact, that another contest was soon organized. The investment of 10,000 dollars, which was the lucky winner’s salary for the month was probably one of museum’s shrewdest pieces of business.
Dutch Heineken compared the excitement shown by a group of girls opening a brand new walk-in closet full of clothes with the delirium shown by a group of their male counterparts who have just entered a walk-in fridge with hundreds of cold bottles of Heineken.
This original idea was followed up by a series of visits to beer festivals, where such fridge was reconstructed, allowing people to recreate and parody the ad. Of course, the crucial part was the action taken by those lucky ones who managed to get into one such fridge. They used every platform available to let the world know what they had done. Heineken could hardly have asked for more.
Drawing attention to what really matters
It doesn’t have to be a large company that sets examples of original campaigns. Sometimes you don’t need to look further than a local NGO or an advocacy group to see how people’s attention can be grabbed.
It was in Vancouver, Canada, that startled citizens noticed life rafts hanging off the sides of buildings, manned lifeguard stands (sans David Hasselhoff) in city parks and life jackets under benches. Very soon it became clear what the authors of those unusual scenes had in mind.
If we don’t do something about global warming, the seas will rise and flood coastal cities. By staging this relatively inexpensive performance, a Canadian organization dealing with limiting carbon emissions managed to create powerful images and raise people awareness about this omnipresent problem.
Free Air Guitar Giveaway
When a new radio station was launched in Scotland, everyone expected the traditional live, on-location shows at attractive venues and possibly a few posters around the town. Instead, all those in Glasgow were treated to one of the cleverest advertising campaigns in that part of the world.
Empty guitar racks were strategically placed all over the city, accompanied by a sign: “Free Air Guitar. Take One.” Naturally, what followed were pics and videos of people playing air-guitar solos all over Glasgow. The campaign went viral in no time, with newspapers, blogs and social media platforms buzzing. Needless to say, the station plays rock music.
What do they all have in common?
All the ideas, and many more we didn’t mention here, have some things in common. First of all, it is the fact that their ideas were original to a point that nobody remembers anything even remotely similar. Then, there’s this aspect often neglected in marketing campaigns called relevance. If you can imagine yourself rowing your boat around Vancouver instead of cycling and if that image made you think about what you can do to prevent it from becoming a reality, the creators of the campaign nailed it. Also, not many beer-lovers would fail to appreciate the pleasure of having one or two bottles of ice-cold beer of excellent quality.
Finally, what’s possibly the most important, there is the role that social media platforms played. Much wider audiences got targeted by those directly exposed to the campaign. There was a need created among those directly exposed to the campaign to let everyone else know about it (not that most people need any special convincing about sharing on social media these days).
What are potential problems?
Apart from the obvious ones, such as lack of ideas and creativity, money is often mentioned as the most common issue. The smaller the company, the bigger issue of expenditure for marketing campaign is. That is also understandable. You’re not making as much as you planned, you’re having cash-flow problems, you forgot to budget for marketing campaign, etc. However, if your current problems may endanger your long-term future, you need to be resolute and brave and deal with them as swiftly as possible.
You may opt for one of increasingly affordable invoice loans to overcome a temporary crisis and become able to invest in your most valuable asset – yourself and your company. Another option is to reallocate some funds and invest them in marketing. Finally, do a little research on the internet and you’ll find many accounts of people using inexpensive, yet original ideas to promote their businesses.
Today’s world is pretty saturated when it comes to small businesses and their number is still steadily increasing. That means that competition is fiercer than ever, which, in turn, requires from you to put more effort into making your offer stand out and being noticed and hopefully remembered. The examples mentioned demonstrate that money isn’t the most important element of a successful campaign, which means your company, no matter how small, can play on the same field as large multinational corporations.
All you need are faith in what you’re doing, because if you yourself are skeptic, you won’t be able to convince other people. The rest is done courtesy of the magic of the social media, since they are the present-day word-of-mouth you need so desperately.