When most businesses market themselves to prospective customers, they employ or at least start with a basic transactional model. This involves communications that focus on selling customers on the practical, aspirational, and/or emotional value of products, an approach familiar to all. While these communications channels can take any form—traditional, digital, broadcast, social media—the appeal is based on the merits of the product and the direct benefits they convey to the customer.
However, when a market is packed with competitors that are flooding channels with appeals, it can be challenging to stand out and get the attention of customers. Often it pays to diversify your marketing strategies in ways that access opportunities and needs beyond the direct “buy my product” approach. While some ways are better suited to certain types of businesses and organizations than others, there are a wide variety of approaches that can provide new customer access points. Here are eight alternatives.
One of the most effective ways to demonstrate to customers that your values align with theirs is by supporting relevant causes or charitable organizations. If you’re a tech company, it makes sense to donate a portion of sales to programs that provide coding or cybersecurity training to underserved students. Or if you’re an apparel company, you could provide a free scarf or pair of socks to communities in need.
People want to buy from marketers who are seen as experts and thought leaders. Developing content that helps customers expand their knowledge and/or get more value out of their purchases helps position you as one. Establishing a blog or podcast, creating videos, publishing white papers, or even posting infographics on social media can capture greater attention and interest in what you’re offering.
You may be able to capture more business from customers in the long run by actually de-emphasizing sales transactions at every opportunity and investing more in demonstrating how your products and brand fit their overall lifestyle and health or provide fresh solutions to ongoing problems. Many companies find greater success in positioning themselves as a trusted resource for support and information rather than as simply a supplier of goods.
It’s simply human nature to want stuff that’s hard to get. By limiting the availability of your product, you create the perception that it’s made of rare materials, takes more time to be crafted to an unparalleled level of quality, or is extra special in some other fashion. The more scarce something is (or is perceived to be), the greater the desire for it. A great example is seen in Popeyes’ introduction of its chicken sandwich in 2019, which reached Black Friday levels of customer lines at its stores.
Creating or sponsoring in-person experiences can be an effective way to attract attention and drive business. Events such as 5K runs, tech conferences, or trade shows create gathering opportunities for potential customers. Perhaps the most widely known and longest-running example of event marketing in the U.S. is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Forming an alliance with a complementary brand can deliver win-win outcomes for both parties. This is particularly effective when one brand’s product/service is a natural component of the use case with the other—as seen in Chase Bank partnering with Amazon.com to offer an Amazon Rewards Visa Card.
Also known as geofencing or geotargeting, this practice involves messaging distributed on mobile devices when that device’s GPS sensor is identified to be within a specified geographic location. For example when you sign into a food delivery app, you’ll see dining options near your location. It’s especially useful for retail businesses that offer services for which you don’t want to travel far—casual dining, car repair, medical services, grocery shopping, etc.
Identifying the various annual events that are important to your customers can go a long way in strengthening your relationship with them. These can be centered around changes in weather, calendar events (national holidays and birthdays), or periods of the year that typically involve specific types of activities (back to school and spring break).