In a world of big advertising budgets, even well-funded companies are increasingly turning to more creative and often less costly advertising tactics as consumers shy away from slick commercials and aggressive sales pitches.
Thanks to the power of social media and a healthy dose of creativity, small and large businesses alike are finding big-impact campaigns don't have to cost a fortune, and can be more successful and popular than traditional advertising.
So, before you kick off your next marketing campaign, you might want to take some cues from these highly inventive, relatively low-cost marketing ideas.
Will It Blend? by Blendtec
Running for over six years now, Blendtec's "Will It Blend?" campaign is one of the best and most entertaining viral campaigns around. Running on the company's website and YouTube, Will It Blend? is a series of infomercials featuring Tom Dickson, the Blendtec founder, blending a variety of unusual items in the high-powered blender including a cooked chicken, golf balls and even an iPad.
Garnering more than 220 million hits to date, the popular Will It Blend? campaign has been a huge success for the company, with Dickson saying, "The campaign took off almost instantly. We have definitely felt an impact in sales." Clearly, Will It Blend? showcases the power of the viral video done right - not to mention a pretty good blender¹.
Ikea's Domestic Space campaign
No stranger to clever and unusual campaigns, Ikea came up with an ingenious way to get customers to save their catalogues with their Domestic Space campaign. Based in Australia, the popular marketing campaign offered people "rent" money in exchange for keeping the catalogues in their home, i.e. renting space. The rent cheques were redeemable in Ikea stores only, meaning people would spend their cheques and even more once inside.
For the relatively low cost of $2 million dollars, the company generated over $14 million in sales in the first week - an increase of 59 per cent. For small businesses with catalogues, it's a great idea that should get a few creative synapses sparking2.
Cadbury's Giant Chocolate "Like" thumb
As chocolate manufacturer Cadbury discovered, getting likes doesn't necessary translate into consumer engagement. To help increase the number of active visitors to their Facebook page, Cadbury decided to build a giant 'like' thumb made of Dairy Milk pieces and show a live stream of the process.
The company used teaser ads to help build up interest to the event, decorating the studio with their fans' content and photos. The result? Cadbury gained 40,000 new Facebook fans and more than 350,000 active participants. Granted, it was a lot of chocolate, but surely it did not go to waste3.
Grey Poupon's "Society of Good Taste" campaign
Not one to shy away from snobbery, Grey Poupon, the mustard for those with "superior taste", offered their Facebook fans the chance to become an exclusive member of their "Society of Good Taste". This clever campaign provided an app that would scan hopeful members' Facebook pages for their interests and friends.
Only if they "cut the mustard" could they join the society. While it seems somewhat contrary to turn away potential fans, the unique campaign managed to ingeniously hone in on Grey Poupon's target market4.
Cingular's Dropped Call billboard
A great example of guerilla advertising that is more creative than costly, mobile phone provider Cingular rented a bright orange billboard with the words "HATE DROPPED CALLS?" - except in this case, the word "CALLS" was missing from the billboard and lying on the ground where passersby were sure to stop and look up. Cingular's campaign takes traditional billboard advertising to the next level, showing that it doesn't need to be boring.
One of the best ways to learn how to successfully deploy a marketing campaign is to observe the success of others. As these examples show, creativity and a dose of fun can go a long way in capturing people's interest, creating brand loyalty and generating sales - all on a reasonable budget5.
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This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Kathleen has a degree in marketing with over 10 years experience in the IT field as a database developer and web designer. As a freelance writer, Kathleen has written for several publications across Australia as well as for various business and hi-tech blogs online.