Dec 20, 2012

Thinking Way Outside The Box: Three New Marketing Channels

Thinking outside the box

The marketing life cycle of the modern eCommerce organization is fairly predictable: set up an online storefront, optimize search engine results, buy up some ad space, and get on social media. This may seem like a recipe for success, but the standard cycle is no guarantee—especially if you’re a small player in a big field.

The trick is as it has always been: connect people with a need to your company, who provides that need. Unfortunately, the world of content is wide, and people build their internal content filters very fast. Sometimes you need a radically different approach to raise yourself above the noise. Here are three less-common marketing channels you might try:

Teleconferences and Online Courses
This is “the new black” of marketing. The idea is to set up a class where one can learn a skill that your company can teach expertly. If you sell outdoor gear, for example, you might consider a timely course on wilderness survival in the snow, with an expert either inside or outside the company teaching. If the subject is interesting enough, you can provide a great service (you might even charge), while building up your brand’s credibility.

Additionally, you might make the video recording of the class available afterwards, which can allow your brand to “go viral” if the content hits just the right note with your audience. The concerns you’ll want to address before you set up such a class are: What subjects do you think you could teach expertly? Who could you get to teach them? What subjects will be interesting to your audience? Will you charge for live attendance? Will you charge for the recording?

That said, this is a very popular secondary marketing channel, and if your company has expertise that could be shared in this format, it’s worth looking into.

Video Games
The heyday of “advergaming”, around the middle of last decade, brought us some truly mediocre attempts at merging marketing and interactivity. But these days, some brands are getting a lot of mileage out of making their own games and releasing them into the wild. The goal with an advergame is to make it a good game first, and an ad experience second.

If you feel like you’re up to the task of making an advergame, you’ll want to make sure you get it out to the various casual gaming blogs out there (Jay Is Games is probably the largest one). If you’re looking for inspiration, one of the most successful advergame series Doritos’ famous “Hotel 626” and “Asylum 626” Halloween-themed series. One thing to remember when using video games as a marketing tool: Avoid the Noid.

Charity Efforts
The best part of doing charity work in conjunction with brand awareness is that everybody wins. Your company gets sterling press, a good cause gets a benefit, and donors get to feel the happiness that comes with giving. “Cause marketing”, as it’s known, can be tricky, however. It’s really important not to appear to be using charity as a cynical attempt to leverage goodwill for profit, so be very judicious as to what projects you take on and how often you do so.

If you’re not queasy about revealing your marketing data, releasing reports and other publications that may help other marketers is an interesting new channel.

Image Credit: EvinDC, Lemonade Stand, August 4th, 2007 via Flickr, CC-BY 2.0

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