Welcome to the 21st century, people.
Yep, we’re ten years in, but many businesses are still marketing according to 20th century principles. In the 21st century, $10,000 can do what used to cost $100,000, but the moves are more complex, mistakes are harder to recover from, and the worst move you can make is to be boring!
Here are some of the cutting edge techniques you can use to stand out against the 21st century landscape:
01. Viral Marketing
Yeah, so you’ve heard of this one, but you might have a hard time defining it.
Viral marketing is about getting your customers to spread your message for you, just like a virus. The rewards can be huge as your brand spreads exponentially. But be warned, it’s actually one of the hardest strategies to pull off.
In general, people have a grossly inflated impression of how the public perceives their businesses. For this strategy to work, your message, whether it’s in the form of a video, article or blog post, must be worth spreading.
Getting a stranger to tell a friend about your business is a complex psychological game, and you have to be clever to be worth talking about.
02. Undercover Marketing
Undercover marketing is one way to kick start a viral marketing campaign, but it carries a lot of risk. Essentially you are starting off a conversation by pretending to be a client or customer. Although this approach is, at best, borderline ethical, it is surprisingly common.
Sometimes actors are hired to infiltrate online chat rooms, parties, coffee shops — anywhere there are potential customers. They find natural ways to introduce the brand, plant the seed and get out.
Undercover marketing can easily backfire if the ruse is detected. For this reason, I don’t generally recommend this technique to my clients.
03. Anchor Advertising
Anchor advertising is a psychological technique that involves purchasing strategic advertising space and creating a brand image that your audience will have no prior emotional attachment to. The key here is anonymity and a complete absence of message. Yes, that’s right… NO message at all.
Strategically place your new icon in various advertising media over a period of about three months. More nefarious campaigns may use flyposting, graffiti or wheatpasting to great effect. After the three months are up, wait for your seeds to grow.
If you manage to place your mark where the customer browses the competition — a supermarket shelf, a comparison website, etc. – your brand will have instant appeal. Even though the mark is not understood consciously, its impact is immediate and extremely powerful once you launch your full campaign.
04. Alternate Reality Games
This is where modern marketing gets weird! This trend is really taking off, and it can create a customer experience like nothing else.
An alternate reality game (ARG) is an interactive scenario based in the real world, and the customer helps propel the story. A designated ‘puppet master,’ usually the marketing agency, runs the game as secretively as possible. The game only works while the puppet master is completely invisible. The user must be able to interact with the fictional elements of the game in a realistic way without seeing behind the curtain.
An example would be selling a plumbing service by running an ARG about a mythical creature who lives in pipes, and the users must find it. The users must be able to browse real websites, visit real locations, and call real phone numbers to find the pieces of the puzzle.
This one is NOT for the faint of heart. It requires some serious planning, but the payoff is immense.
Come back tomorrow for part two of this post, where I’ll reveal even more cutting edge marketing strategies you’ve never heard of!