When you think about marketing, what's the first thing that comes to mind? You probably think of things like Internet ad campaigns, press releases, commercials and, of course, social media promotions. But marketing doesn't have to be the same old tactics you're used to – you can take it to the next level if you just think outside the box.
With a little creativity and the help of technology, some choreographers, a graffiti artist (and maybe even an airplane), you can raise your marketing campaign a few notches. And if it works, you'll probably never look at a press release the same way again.
If you really want to get people talking about your business, try these unusual marketing tactics.
The Internet is a great way to spread the word, but if promoting your business on Twitter isn't doing the trick, why not take your 140 characters offline and put your message somewhere everyone can see it? Digital skywriting could do just the trick.
Unlike traditional skywriting, which uses one aircraft to write out a short message, digital skywriting uses a team of five aircraft working together with an onboard computer that regulates smoke output and spells out longer messages in a dot matrix style. With digital skywriting messages visible within a 15-mile radius, it could be a great way to direct people to your website, look up a unique hashtag, or get people talking about an upcoming event or product launch. [Making the Most of Word of Mouth Marketing ]
The average cost? According to leading skywriting company, AirSign, it generally falls between $2,500 and $5,000, depending on the location and the price package you choose. And, if you go in the direction of aerial advertising, you can join the likes of celebrities like Taylor Swift, who promoted her Yahoo livestream last month via digital skywriting.
Go viral with video
Like everyone else with an Internet connection, you probably spend at least a few minutes of your day on YouTube. With users uploading videos ranging from helpful tutorials to hilarious comedy segments, there's something for everyone. And the best part about YouTube is that anyone can upload a video – meaning you can take advantage of it for your business, too.
Creating a YouTube video as a part of your marketing campaign is a great way to get noticed. With video content, you have the opportunity to get creative, show a side of your business that your customers and clients may not always see, and, of course, YouTube videos are highly shareable online.
But how do you create a video that has the potential to go viral? Just channel your favorite YouTube sensations – take inspiration from topics that are already trending on the Web and make sure your video is high quality, relatable and compelling. You can also turn to social video production companies like Seedwell for help – the company has worked with brands such as Pepsi, Nike and YouTube itself.
A perfect example of great viral video marketing? Just look at Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign from 2013. The video, which both promoted the brand and raised awareness about women's body image issues, now has more than 64 million views.
Stage a flash mob
Unfamiliar with flash mobs? Just imagine that you're out in public (say, a park or a train station) and suddenly, one by one, random people around you start dancing. Before you know it, everyone around you is doing a choreographed routine, leaving bystanders like yourself completely in awe.
Pop culture has seen people using flash mob situations to do everything from propose marriage to raise awareness for social causes, so why not channel the idea for your marketing strategy? Bonus: If you film it, it can work as a viral video, too.
Not sure where to start? Flash Mob America is a full service flash mob production company based in Los Angeles. And as for famous flash mob marketing stunts, in 2010, actress Sofia Vergara teamed up with Flash Mob America for a memorable performance in New York's Times Square to promote the Suave Professionals hair care line.
Channel street art
Back in 2012, furniture brand IKEAchanneled famous graffiti artist Banksy in an ad campaign in conjunction with Milan Design Week. Putting up street-art-style posters that resembled graffiti all over subway stations as well as their own ads, IKEA's "People Bring Design to Life" guerrilla marketing campaign garnered the company a lot of attention.
Another great alternative? In 2009, fast food company Domino's Pizza teamed up with eco-friendly marketing firm GreenGraffiti to create "reverse graffiti" installments across New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Unfamiliar with reverse graffiti? It takes advantage of already dirty sidewalks and paved areas by power-washing designs and ads into them using stencils. It's kind of like cleaning, but with marketing in mind.
Street art comes in many different forms, so if graffiti isn't the direction you want to head in, there are plenty of options at your disposal. The point is, do something unique, eye-catching and unexpected, and your business will definitely get attention. Just make sure you're not doing anything illegal in the process.
Get creative with hashtags
You may be thinking that using hashtags isn't all that unusual, but what if you could Tweet or Instagram a certain hashtag and immediately get free stuff? With Innovative Vending Solutions' Twitter- and Instagram-activated vending machines, you can take social media marketing to a whole new level.
So how do they work? Standing in front of the machine, your customer would be prompted to tweet or post a specific hashtag and tag a certain @handle (in this case, your company's account) from their smartphone. Once the post is shared by your customer, the machine automatically dispenses a product, and from food to clothing, pretty much any product goes. It's a win-win situation – your customers get free stuff, and you get publicity from their social media accounts.
The vending machines are available for rent or purchase, and depending on the project, they can cost upward of $7,500.
Pay it forward
The old adage says that "no good deed goes unpunished," but from a marketing standpoint, companies like Starbucks would likely disagree. Just last month the coffee giant got media attention, thanks to one woman who sparked a "pay it forward" chain at the drive-thru after purchasing a coffee for the customer behind her. After nearly 11 hours of paying it forward, 378 customers had passed on the good deed.
While the Starbucks stunt may have started at random, the baristas at the drive-thru kept it going by explaining what was happening to each new customer. Businesses could easily take advantage of the pay-it-forward concept – all it takes is one person to start the trend, and not only will your customers be feeling great; they'll be talking about your business all day, too.
And paying it forward doesn't have to be something like paying for someone's coffee – you can make it about helping your community, too. By giving back and actively supporting charitable causes, you'll show your customers and clients that you're not just out to make money.
Originally published on Business News Daily.