The key to successful marketing is to stand out from the crowd. Here are 16 out-of-the-box marketing ideas to help you raise brand awareness in a fun and different way. We include real-life examples to show you how other notable companies execute these strategies.
1. Turn a retail business into a coffee shop
A recent trend for businesses with a brick-and-mortar store is transforming a part of their space into a coffee shop. Brands like Kendra Scott, Ralph Lauren, and even banks like Capital One have hopped on the coffee bandwagon.
Opening a coffee shop under your brand can help you generate foot traffic from existing and new customers to increase sales. Customers will come for the coffee but might window shop and leave with something. The more people you have entering your store, the higher your chances of selling more products are.
2. Create a customer community
Creating a customer community takes time and tons of customer loyalty, but the outcome can work wonders for your business. Athletic brands like Nike, Lululemon, and Athleta are solid examples of brands with a solid customer base.
Nike has their Nike+ Run Club, where they encourage their customers to participate in cardio. Likewise, Lululemon and Athleta frequently host outdoor yoga sessions to bring their customers and new people together. The folks who show up for class are more likely to purchase something before they leave because they feel connected to your brand.
These brands can use tools like business texting to update customers on events near them, share community-exclusive deals, and more.
Smaller brands may focus on creating Facebook groups, such as air quality or allergy support groups for those who purchase an air purifier. Or a dedicated Reddit board for specific brands, like Nespresso coffee machines.
3. Let customers experience your products in person
Sometimes, it can be difficult for online-only retailers to convince customers that their products are worth the price — especially for bigger ticket items like furniture.
One way to let customers try out your products is to establish a store solely for customers to experience your brand. Instead of keeping your stock in the store, you can place online orders on behalf of customers to make things easier for your company to manage.
Mattress brands, like Casper and Tuft & Needle, are popular for their experiential store environments. Customers can try out a mattress and place an order for delivery. Other clothing brands, like Reformation, also keep limited inventory. Their stores focus more on letting customers try on pieces of clothing before finalizing an online order.
4. Create a custom Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok filter
Anyone can create a custom filter on social media, and it’s a great way to reach new people.
A lot of artists create filters to announce their new albums or tours. For example, James Bay recently released an interactive Instagram filter to announce the release of his song “Give Me a Reason.”
Other brands will create a custom filter to accompany a marketing campaign, like when The Oscars are premiering and filters promoting the event pop up.
Whatever platform you choose to create a filter on, make sure it’s engaging or appealing to your target audience.
5. Participate in a TikTok trend
TikTok is one of the most popular social media channels, regardless of age.
You’ll be surprised how many businesses made their claim to fame via TikTok. DuoLingo, whose owl mascot went viral for its feisty content and obsession with namesake Dua Lipa, is just one example of many.
But you don’t need a green owl costume to win at TikTok. You can study current trends and adjust them to fit your brand voice or try to create new challenges to engage customers online. There are a few TikTok accounts dedicated to sharing trends and how to utilize them, too.
6. Partner with other popular brands
Everything’s better in twos — so why not partner with another brand to increase your brand awareness?
There are numerous partnership ideas out there that are more common. Still, some unique ways to optimize partnership opportunities are collaborating with brands on YouTube videos, podcasts, or other things of the like.
In terms of podcasting, many smaller podcasts will guest host on a more well-known podcast to advertise their business. Non-podcast business owners also hop onto episodes to promote their business. There’s, quite literally, a podcast for everything, which makes it easier to lean into your niche audience.
Some examples include Kate Winkler Dawson, creator of Ten Fold More Wicked, who was a guest on My Favorite Murder to advertise the new season of her podcast and her latest book release.
7. Paint a mural in the city
Painting a photo-worthy mural in the city where your headquarters is can help you raise brand awareness. Not only will it appeal to locals, but anyone visiting the city as well.
When painting a mural, be sure to include your company name somewhere. If you want to keep it simple, you can have your social media handles or website URL.
8. Launch a clothing brand
When you think of fashion, I’m sure brands like Pizza Hut are the last thing to come to mind. But that’s the beauty of creating a clothing line. It’s a marketing strategy any business can use, even those outside the fashion industry.
Whether you’re printing slogans on Gilden shirts or developing a streetwear brand like Pizza Hut, designing, selling, and handing out freebies from a clothing line is a fun way to advertise your brand. Most importantly, it helps you build customer loyalty.
9. Gorilla marketing is still in
Who doesn’t love free stuff? Whether it’s college students, festival-goers, or city dwellers on their way to work, hitting the streets to give out your product can help you raise brand awareness and make someone’s day.
Many well-known brands have hit the streets across the nation to share their products for free. Red Bull is one of the most famous brands to do so when they would give out free drinks at concerts and public events.
Kind Bars and Yik Yak are two companies that frequented college campuses to hand out free nutrition bars and socks to promote their business. Other options include handing out shirts, stickers, pens, backpacks, or caps. Whatever you choose to gift, college kids are sure to appreciate it.
10. Hire a food truck for a store opening
Gearing up for a grand opening can be challenging, but one way to encourage foot traffic is to offer free food. Many businesses hire a local food truck to serve food to the first 100 or 150 guests that come to their store opening. Or, you can have a food truck stationed outside for the entirety of the day.
H&M is one business that hired a taco truck when they first started opening stores across the United States.
11. Donate to a beloved school or charity
Another creative marketing idea is donating to a local school or charity close to your company values. Of course, it works best when you donate out of sincerity.
That’s why it’s critical to find a charity or school that resonates with your business or ties into your mission statement somehow. For example, if you are a water bottle company, you can donate to a charity that provides water wells for poor communities.
12. Create a playlist on Spotify or Apple Music
Creating a playlist on Spotify or Apple Music is a free and quick way to get your company name out there. It sounds like a stretch, but many businesses will create playlists that match their brand values or space.
Nike+ Run Club is an excellent example of a brand that uses Spotify to its advantage. The apparel company has a curated playlist specifically for working out and running, which matches its brand image and includes a link to its mobile app of the same name. Nike frequently updates the public playlist to stay relevant.
13. Interact with other brands, or users, online
Wendy’s and other fast-food chains often “throw shade” at one another on social media, namely Twitter. It’s become a trend across the internet. But you don’t have to diss another brand to join this trend.
Many companies create social media accounts to interact with user-generated content, even if it’s unrelated to their industry. For example, brands like Hulu will often comment on viral videos so people will see their comments and hopefully visit their page.
But to be able to do this, you need to create a brand persona. Let’s go back to the DuoLingo owl — it’s known to be sassy and obsessed with Dua Lipa. That gives it a fleshed-out personality that makes it easier for customers to relate to or recognize.
You can also interact solely with customers if they’re generating content relevant to your business. Some customers will tag your business in the hopes of you sharing their content, so it’s a win-win situation for companies and customers alike.
14. Mail customers free samples
If you have customers on your mailing list, consider sending them product samples or exclusive offers. Sending free samples in the mail is a great marketing strategy for businesses in the beauty industry or those who can afford a try-before-you-buy model.
LovelySkin.com is one example of a beauty marketplace that retains customers by sending them free samples in the mail.
15. Host a webinar
Planning and executing a webinar can be a lot, but it’s a worthwhile investment for the extensive lead list. Instead of hosting a webinar solo, consider partnering with other companies in your industry to ease the workload and double the lead list.
Textline frequently hosts webinars with other leaders in the communications industry, like Aircall or Gorgias. Most companies will host a webinar one to three times a month, depending on time and resources.
16. Interact with industry-related boards on Reddit or Quora
One of the easiest ways to engage with people in your industry is to browse relevant Reddit or Quora boards. Some companies create user profiles on these sites to answer industry-specific questions or recommend their products. You can link blog articles or products when recommending suggestions to questions on relevant boards or topics.
For example, a company in the air purifier and clean air space can comment on any board relating to air quality or air-related illnesses, like allergies, COPD, etc.
The bottom line
Whether you use one of the items on our list, or branch out and create your own, have fun! The goal of out-of-the-box marketing is to test the waters to see if it’s a lucrative investment. Who knows? Your brand can be the next big thing because you did things a little differently.