There are some iconic ad campaigns that folks of a certain age will never forget - it was through the marketing efforts of major companies that we were introduced to characters like Ronald McDonald, slogans like "Just Do It" and the persistent image of celebrities of the day brandishing a thick milk mustache. This level of advertising infamy used to be reserved solely for corporations that could afford Super Bowl ads, but the dawn of the Internet has allowed marketing strategies for small businesses to assume the same resonance as their big-time competition. As you make your way into future ad placement and development, take cues from successful campaigns from the past with these simple but brilliant tips.
Forget about your marketing past
When companies find an advertising slogan or angle that is effective with their loyal base of customers, they often ride out that success for years and years. Before you plan your next big marketing move, a daring small business solution is to know when enough is enough. Brainstorm small ways that your brand can surprise customers with a new spin on the same old campaign - this could mean a shake-up in aesthetic, slogan or even channels of advertising, all of which can be successful if well-timed and cleverly done.
A great example of this is a bold move made by the Pepsi Corporation in 2010 that has incited social awareness in the years since its release with the Refresh Project. The concept of the promotion used funds that Pepsi had used on Super Bowl promotions for the 23 years previous, and re-purposed it as a dual social media call to action and huge benefits for forward-thinking causes of that time. The project drew customers to the company's website, where they could vote for the causes they found most relevant, an early example of a big company harnessing cloud hosting and web services to service the community.
HubSpot writer Marta Hagan wrote a piece on some of the most unforgettable advertising campaigns of all time, and commented on the uniqueness of the Pepsi Refresh Project in particular.
"The Refresh Project featured a pledge from Pepsi to hand out more than $20 million in grants to do-good projects in six categories... in what has since been coined 'crowd-sourced philanthropy,'" she reported.
If it makes sense for your brand to make an investment in charitable projects like these, this only stands to improve your reputation amongst potential customers - it's hard to deny a business that is giving back.
Challenge your customer
Online marketing for small businesses can take cues from pushing the boundaries of traditional advertising and challenging consumers to engage with a product in a way that's daring and unusual. Other impressive campaigns in recent memory are the result of such actions, specifically the emergence of pay-what-you-want services, a selling technique popularized in the music and film industries that has spilled slowly but surely into other sectors.
Independent band Radiohead was one of the first to make this marketing choice in 2007 to accompany the release of its album "In Rainbows." The call to action was simple - with six albums already released and a loyal fan base, the band challenged fans to decide what the value of its music was to them. Done before cloud services were part of everyday life, the band sent a CD to followers who pledged at any level - this increased access of the material to those without much to spend, and give those with more money the opportunity to pay more to support a favorite group instead of shelling out the traditional twenty bucks.
Improving business efficiency can truly be as simple as a forward-thinking method like this one - in the case of Radiohead, the payback was enormous. HitFix, a music industry blog, reflected on the success of "In Rainbows" in the wake of the campaign.
"In January 2008, the band still managed to earn No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with the release of an album they essentially put up for free three months prior - and without a record label's marketing division... or radio play or a traditional single or the usual three-month album promotion cycle," writer Katie Hasty pointed out.
Harness affordable marketing tools
The ultimate empowerment for a successful advertisement with the least financial impact can be done with internet for small businesses. With a well-designed, user-friendly website and social media presence, cloud hosting and web hosting for small businesses can have an even bigger impact than a billboard on the main strip. The examples are all around us - whether it's a clever video campaign that put the Old Spice brand back on the map or the world-changing "Yes We Can" campaign that had a hand in deciding the leader of the free world, small businesses can't deny that all it takes is a daring spirit and the desire to succeed to make waves.