Who comes to mind when you think about marketing strategies that defied convention?
- Steven Jobs with Apple
- Certainly the Volkswagen print ads of the 60s
- Old Spice “The man your man could smell like” TV commercials
- Proctor & Gamble’s “Thank you, moms” Olympics video
- Dos Equis “The world most interesting man” campaign
- Dove’s print series for “Real beauty”
You probably can picture each of these. They were memorable for breaking the rules. They gained recognition because they defied conventional marketing in some way. They looked at things differently. Or said or did the unexpected.
Taking the unbeaten path rather than the quick route is liberating. But that’s because you take a risk in saying, doing or picturing something in a very different way.
Turning the usual on its head, so to speak, is energizing. It’s also risky. After all, you could get it wrong.
For all the campaigns listed above, chances are very good that there were multiple tries for each strategy that didn’t work. That missed the mark. Those that worked found the sweet spot of heartfelt sincerity, as in P&G’s “Thank you” video. Or said something quirky and completely over the top, as in Old Spice and Dos Equis. Or questioned our values very visually, as Dove did. And of course Apple famously turned everything on its head, from innovation to marketing.
How can you get off of the safe and reliable path and onto producing marketing materials that are memorable and get talked about?
The easy answer is “take the unexpected route” with something that is funny, off beat, brilliant, or charming. Of course, how to get there is a whole different story.
The good news is that it is less expensive than ever to use social media to explore what works and what doesn’t. Shooting and editing video is more direct and faster than ever before. You can tweet a new tag line out and get immediate feedback before launching an expensive campaign.
Technology has made defying convention a breeze. You just need to be able to stop taking the safe route, take a deep breath, and open up to the possibility of different.
Marshall McLuhan said, “Historians and archaeologists will one day discover that the ads of our time are the richest and most faithful daily reflections any society ever made of its whole range of activities.”
Question why you are presenting your services and goods in the way you are. Talk about the strangely curious aspects of your widgets. Invite different folks to your marketing table and gain new insight.
Then apply this new thinking to everything you do, from sales strategies to HR, product innovation to marketing new categories.
So — yes, project and reflect your organization’s values in unexpected, irreverent, exuberant, thoughtful, wild, and colorful ways. Why not? Taking an unexpected route just may open up a whole new path for you, your customers and your organization.