Differentiating a brand is not for the weak of heart. Even established brands can find themselves struggling to create a blip on the sales meter. Too often, the competition is saying the same things you are, or somebody else is first, or says it louder, or – you get the idea. To create a little drama and stir things up, one of the most effective things you can do is invent your own marketing to advertise around. With the help of today’s social media outlets, this additional marketing push can be very compelling.
For example, some years ago, Radio Shack wanted to increase store traffic over the holidays, so they did a little research with women to learn their top ten most-wanted Christmas gifts. Then advertising was created to offer the list to any man who stopped by the store. Anyone who’s ever been desperate for gift ideas knows how tempting an offer like this can be.
To build some advertising buzz, The Toro Company decided to pull a stunt that had more to do with mowing down the competition than with cutting grass. They entered one of their riding lawn mowers in the Baja 500 off-road race in Mexico. In addition to the instant PR created by the spectacle of a lawn tractor rider suited up in full racing gear, the stunt generated a huge amount of additional free press and buzz around the brand. They didn’t win the race, but they sure won the competition for something to talk about in their advertising.
Even in the financial services category, where sameness can be a big hurdle, some invented marketing can overcome advertising inertia. One Australian Bank staged a series of “Honesty Experiments” to promote the honest nature of its credit card business. These included dropping wallets around for people to find, giving people incorrect change and letting money slip from actors’ pockets. Capturing the typically honest response from the Australian public gave the bank plenty of advertising material to work with in both traditional and social media.
Not to be mistaken with cause marketing, invented marketing can be small and episodic, and it can be created to support your chief brand strategy or a business initiative with a shorter life span. Either way, inventing something to talk about that’s uniquely yours can take you a long way toward being different in a branding landscape that’s often filled with too much similarity.