Although we’re well into 2019, we would be amiss to neglect some of the most innovate feats of marketing ingenuity we saw agencies and brands implement throughout 2018 (and earlier). True marketing innovation is a remarkable thing to see, as it truly shocks and amazes — effectively having the potential to singlehandedly put a brand on a map … or ignite our Twitter feeds. Although this is something all marketing campaigns should do, this is unfortunately not the case.
Below is a list of my three top innovative marketing strategies of 2018, across every industry and marketing type, and what we can learn from them.
1. Guerrilla Marketing
Spending money to advertise your product: what’s so special about that? Welcome to marketing — it’s an incredibly expensive venture, as taking products to market can costs companies millions of dollars. So how did Tesla manage to make headlines internationally for free? They engaged in guerrilla marketing.
Tesla has always been proud to boast that it runs a $0 advertising budget. A brand with a declaration like that seems out of place in an article such as this. That being said, when Elon Musk put his own personal Tesla Roadster (paywall) driven by a dummy nicknamed “Starman” on Falcon Heavy, the flagship rocket of SpaceX, he scored a huge cross-brand marketing win.
Although guerrilla marketing may not always be achieved for $0, Tesla is an incredible testament to the fact that smart, strategic and well-thought-out marketing can yield exceptional results, so it’s not always necessary to simply try to throw dollars and expand your reach through traditional channels. Another older viral guerrilla marketing campaign included when Taco Bell falsely released a statement that they had purchased and renamed the Liberty Bell. As with all of these campaigns, companies can think outside the box, avoid playing by the prewritten marketing rulebook and create a fun, memorable presence for their brand.
2. Holistic Marketing Agencies
Siloed service providers are becoming a thing of the past. Marketing firms are becoming more efficient and managing client campaigns from start to finish. By leveraging industry connections, resources and expertise, firms can expand to include multiple service offerings all under one roof. The end-to-end service model can allow your firm’s clients to enjoy ease of mind and simplicity in the execution of their campaigns.
One company owning this model is Cycle Media, a marketing and media company that’s using this strategy to offer clients a plethora of services. What Cycle media does differently, according to a Fast Company profile, is having talent management, creative, production, and distribution all under one roof. The holistic service offering also allows for firms like Cycle to work with a variety of industries and not get pigeonholed into a specific segment. They’ve used this strategy to attract high-profile clients such as the NBA talk show Buckets, ESPN, Papa Johns, Lincon Records and Capital Records. Although not many marketing agencies I know of have adopted this practice, nvision (an award-winning marketing agency in Canada), and upriseVSI of the U.K. both utilize this holistic ideology.
The creation of a holistic strategy and team may not be something a smaller agency can accomplish from the get-go. In my experience, the resources required to successfully scale a cross-functional team properly are significant; however, as your firm grows, ensure you grow with this purpose in mind, as it can ultimately offer the best possible experience for your customers.
3. Social Media Marketing And Influencers
If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past several years, you’re well aware that social media marketing is a major way for brands to connect with customers. It has shown absolutely no signs of slowing down. Two incredible examples of best-in-class social media marketing include the BBDO and Collectively. According to Fast Company, Collectively paired over 75 brands with 1,725 influencers and personalities and achieved a total combined 1.2 billion impressions for the year.
BBDO is no rookie when it comes to big brands and big impact, either. Over the years they’ve worked with household names such as Lowesand created podcasts for GE, PSAs for Sandy Hook and dog adoption campaigns for Pedigree. Creating a noteworthy campaign with Bacardi was not something out of the wheelhouse of what BBDO was used to accomplishing, but boy — they definitely didn’t disappoint. BBDO hacked Instagram stories to effectively create a Bacardi DJ app through Instagram stories. Users could make their own DJ set on their own device. This showed the brand’s commitment to its fun, music-infused brand.
Don’t be afraid to use exciting new methods of marketing and move away from traditional expensive cost-per-mile (CPM) and cost-per-click (CPC) digital marketing initiatives. Influencer marketing, for example, can be incredibly effective if done properly. Influencers should share your brand’s values and be able to meaningfully connect with your target audience on social media. Hiring niche influencers can be a more cost-effective and strategic approach than spending dollars on the biggest name a budget can buy. When hiring influencers, consider using a group of influencers who can strategically communicate regarding your specific campaign to create the sense that your product or campaign has permeated the market. This effect can create FOMO (fear of missing out) in your target audience, leading to an effective and impactful influencer marketing campaign.
Is Your Campaign Next?
The takeaway from this article is very simple. Don’t be afraid to innovate.
Although I work hand-in-hand with brands to help create marketing campaigns that speak to their brand voice in a way that captures their story and delivers it to their target market … I want to push the envelope (in a good way). Use new strategies, technologies and initiatives to differentiate yourself in the market. Being a little uncomfortable is a good thing when you’re running a new campaign that isn’t a carbon copy of what’s been done before. Being different and purposeful drives results. These brands have shown it. Don’t fall into a trap of doing a slightly different iteration of what your competitor is already doing and be disappointed when you have less-than-optimal results from your next campaign.