11 Uncommon Marketing Strategies to Jumpstart Your Business

Every marketer wants more leads, signups, and subscribers - without spending too much money. And while achieving these results may be a dream in most cases, you can make a huge splash with your marketing if you simply take the time to sit down and get creative. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to “wow” your customers. Out-of-the-box thinking will take you farther than your dollars ever can. Here are eleven uncommon marketing strategies you can use to grow your business. 

1. Use stealth tactics to grab your competitor’s customers.

Every company wants to steal customers from its competitors, but most don’t make it their number one priority. If you have a competitor that’s offering a similar product, but not giving its customers great results, you have an opportunity to target those individuals.

For example, when Airbnb launched, it had a number of similar competitors in the space. The travel giant reached out to those competitors’ customers with email campaigns that targeted individuals who posted opportunities to stay in their homes on Craigslist. The kicker? The emails appeared to be from another friendly Craigslist user letting them know about the site. This type of stealthy tactic is risky, but for Airbnb, it really paid off. 

Airbnb marketing strategy.

2. Surprise your customers with giveaways

Giveaways are nothing new. Many businesses use them to drive interest. But what happens when you take them to the next level? Diamond Candles found out when it decided to include a ring valued at $10, $100, $1,000 or $5,000 with every candle order.

Diamond Candles marketing strategy.

The product took off. Diamond Candles scaled its revenue to a million dollar run rate in just 18 months. In 2013, the company was recognized as an Internet E-Retailers 2013 “Hot 100” eCommerce sites alongside Warby Parker and other internet power brands. This is giveaways taken to another level. It’s all about understanding what your customers love and surprising them with free stuff! Of course, most of the rings included are of the $10 variety, so the candles are priced up to accommodate that. The company isn’t losing any money in the process. 

3. Bring in another brand

Need more exposure for your brand, or want to target a new audience? Bring in another brand (that isn’t a competitor!) that can help you meet your goals. Take Spotify and Starbucks, for example. Using app integration, customers who like a song they hear at Starbucks can use the brand’s app to find out what it is and play it on Spotify, bringing more eyes and ears to both brands. 

4. Launch a referral program

If you want to grow your followers quickly, referral marketing could be your best bet. Referral programs allow customers to promote your product for you. It’s a simple concept, but small businesses don’t use it enough. The fact is, you don’t need the budget of a major company to pay actors or sports personalities. “Real” individuals are often more effective influencers than A-listers. 

92% of people trust personal recommendations. Image via NeilPatel.com.

The good news is that you don’t have to plan your referral program from scratch. A tool such as Ambassador can help you handle all the details of your program, so you can get creative with the promotion.

5. Give away stickers

Take a tip from the powerhouse forum Reddit. Stickers may seem like a ridiculously easy way to grow your business, they can make a huge impact. By giving away free stickers (or other quick, easy, and cheap marketing swag), and encouraging people to post them in public places, you can get a lot of eyes on your brand. When he launched the community site Reddit, Alexis Ohanian spent $500 on stickers--his only marketing investment. He travelled around the country and placed the stickers in visible places and gave them to strangers. And this is how the community web forum was born. Use a trusted site to order stickers in bulk. StickerMule offers huge discounts if you print stickers by the hundreds. 

Reddit front page of the internet.

6. Run photo contests

Photo contest are a cheap and easy way to get potential customers engaged with your brand. They’re easy to enter (anyone can submit a photo on Facebook or Instagram with your specific tags), and they provide you with great user-generated content that you can reuse on other channels. Offer the winner a special prize or discount, and don’t forget to ask them to share something about your brand to be considered in the running. Check out Harpoon Brewery – they’re leaders in great photo contests. 

7. Give video contests a try

Similar to photo contests, video contests are an excellent way to encourage user-generated content. Though not as many people will take the time to shoot a video as they will to take a photograph, you’re more likely to get more engaging content, since putting oneself out there on video requires more thought and effort. That means you’ll also get quality content you can reuse later. You can run video contests on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or other similar channels.

This video contest from VerveGirl asked beauty vloggers to submit videos of their best beauty tutorials. The vloggers got a chance to show their skills to a huge audience, and the high-quality videos were great advertising tools for Verve.

Another reason the content was successful was that VerveGirl gave daily prizes out to voters – enticing them to come back every day for more chances. This helped the contest get over 1,400 participants in only two weeks.

Verve girl.

8. Copy the experts

Sometimes, being creative means copying someone else. It may seem counterintuitive, but doing what has already worked for someone else can benefit your business in a big way. Look at sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy and the content they’re producing. This content constantly goes viral and gets tons of shares. While the audience and subject of the content might be different than yours, it’s a good idea to look at what these brands are doing right and learn from them. Specifically, look at headlines, content structure, and how they promote the posts.

9. Turn your product into a challenge

One of the largest challenges with viral marketing campaigns is that it’s often difficult to tie the viral content back to the company’s actual products. By going against the trend and making your product the focal point of your viral marketing campaign, you can accomplish two goals. Example: food companies that ask their customers to create the brand’s next great flavor, such as this campaign from Lay’s. To make this work for you, find the need your product solves, and turn it into a challenge for others to solve that need. They’ll be forced to keep your brand top-of-mind throughout the process. 

10. Start your business as an invite-only platform

As consumers, we want what we can’t have. If you’re just starting your business, consider opening up your site to an exclusive list of customers to start with, to drive additional interest. Think about Facebook and Pinterest when they first started. Once one person gets access. Their friends will want access as well. Back in 2013, the Slack homepage told users they had to get an invitation to use the product. (See the screenshot below). Many brands have used this tactic successfully to grow their user bases. 

Slack project management.

11. Take advantage of popular hashtags

Joining in on weekly hashtag themes (via Twitter), such as #FlashbackFriday or #ThrowbackThursday can get you the number of views you want for your brand. By actively participating with hashtags thousands, or even millions, of people are already using, you become an active participant in the community and have access to an audience way beyond your typical follower count. 

Grow Your Follower Base

To grow your follower base and build your business, you need to stand out with unique messaging, fun campaign ideas, and solid products. 

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