Creative Advertising Ideas: Cool, Outside-The-Box Approaches

creative advertising ideasA few years ago, I was in Washington D.C. with my husband for the weekend.  We were seeing the sights, visiting some friends, and ultimately doing a lot of walking.  On one particular street a man in a Victorian suit, top hat and white gloves rolled up to us on a Segway, and with a grand gesture, offered us a print flyer showcasing an upcoming video game.  He was one of about a dozen similarly dressed men and women rolling around town that day – all of whom had found a remarkable way around the fact that people usually don’t want to be handed flyers.  It was so thoroughly out of the ordinary, and so funny, that years later I still remember not only the encounter, but the product it was meant to advertise (A Nintendo DS puzzle game called “Professor Layton”).

Creative marketing and advertising will get you noticed.  While there will always be advertising standbys like television commercials, newspaper ads, and local signage, there is a lot more you could be doing to get your name out there.  With a little creativity on your part, you could have your business name seen by potential customers more frequently, more memorably, and for less money.  Let’s take a look at a few examples of ways to do this.

Sponsor a Local Kids’ Sports Team

creative advertising ideasFor a relatively small sponsorship fee (as compared to other forms of advertising), your business name could be all over the local ball park.  Typically, a little league team will offer to not only hang an advertising banner in the ball field, but also put your name and logo right on the uniforms.  Some might even be willing to name the team after your business.  Furthermore, with a sponsorship, there are then loads of opportunities on your part to host “Recognition Days” and fundraisers for the team, all the while bringing in new customers associated with the team and community.  You could offer discounts at your establishment with the presentation of a game ticket (everyone loves coupons), and you could even have running incentives like “50% off if our team wins”.

Besides just name recognition, this does a lot to boost your community good will.  This is often a popular advertising endeavor for restaurants, radio stations, and small businesses.

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Make a Spectacle of Yourself

creative advertising ideasThe Segway riding folks I mentioned in the intro are a great example of how to get yourself noticed.  Big displays in public have become more popular in recent years.  With the dawn of cell phone cameras, there is a much greater chance that your “guerrilla style marketing” might even go viral after a witness posts it to social media.

Some examples of these public events could involve “flash mobs”, where a group of people assemble together at a set time to perform a dance, a skit or a stunt in the hopes of getting the attention of all the pedestrians around them.  These events have been used successfully to promote everything from upcoming stage performances (the cast spontaneously broke out into song in the middle of a train station), to anti-smoking awareness (a group of pedestrians all appearing to drop dead on the street at the same time).  Whether these displays turn out to be joyous, grim or anything in between, they are sure to be remembered, and that’s the whole point.

Release a Viral Video

creative advertising ideasWhile it is hard to determine which online videos will go “viral”, and which ones will not, there are certainly secrets you can use to boost your chances.  Sometimes presented without context, these videos tend to thrive on shock value.  The viewing audience is so engaged, and so wowed by what they just saw that they are compelled to share the video via social media, thereby spreading the ad around for you.

There are some recent examples which have all been very successful.  Last year a video was released of martial arts expert Jean-Claude Van Damme doing a split between two fast moving trucks.  It was tense, it was sensational, but more to the point, it was an ad for the Volvo trucks featured in the video.  Another successful video we saw last year begins as a confrontation between a young woman and a man in a coffee shop.  As things begin heating up, the young woman seemingly repels the man with her mind, and pushes him up a wall.  As unsuspecting customers around her begin to flee in confusion, chairs and tables move on their own.  Naturally, this was all rigged ahead of time, and many of the folks in the video were actors.  Still, this viral video turned out to be an ad for the movie “Carrie”, and millions of people watched it.  That’s how viral videos work, and they can work for you too.

Give Your Sales Team Creative License to Advertise 24/7

creative advertising ideasI have another story for you.  A few years back, I was lucky enough to see The Rolling Stones in concert when they came through my city.  Naturally, there were thousands of people there, and therefore, thousands of cars in the parking lot.  After the concert was over, as I walked back to my car, I could see that a business card bad been placed under my windshield wiper.  When I picked it up, I could see that it had a hand written note on the back: “Thanks for buying your car with us.  The Stones ROCK!  From one fan to another, stop in anytime for a free oil change!”

The dealership had a distinctive logo which they put on the rear panel of every car they sold, and apparently mine caught the eye of a sales associate.  Even though I had owned that car for several years, that sales professional saw an opportunity to network and keep up the goodwill associated with his place of business.

When you empower your sales team to make on-the-spot deals and decisions like that, you also give them the opportunity to make and retain customers everywhere they go.  Even a Rolling Stones concert.

Go for Quirky Giveaways

creative advertising ideasI can’t tell you how many pens and stickers I have been handed by local businesses.  While these might have their uses here and there, they are not particularly memorable.  If you have the budget and the creativity to go for bigger and better giveaways with personality, it can really pay off in terms of advertising.

Got a food cart, or burger joint?  Try serving your food on Frisbees with your logo printed on them.  Does your business cater more towards executive types?  Try handing out golf balls and tees in your company colors.  Try to fit the situation, and come up with items people will use.  If you bought a booth at a charity walk, or 5k, try handing out water bottles, or towels.  If you are advertising at an outdoor market, give away shopping totes.

The more people are able to utilize your freebies, the more frequently they see your name.  The more unique or intriguing they are, the more likely they are to pick them up off your table in the first place.

Advertising has seen many trends come and go, and will always be a changing environment.  To help you stay on top of the latest and greatest, Udemy offers some excellent courses.  Try out “Cheap Advertising for Small Businesses” as a good starting point.