If you’ve been in digital marketing as long as we have, you might also remember the days when having a social media page for your brand was considered unique and edgy, and enough to make you stand out from your competitors.
Those were much simpler times.
Now, if you’re not on social, you’re more or less ruled out as an option by potential clients. If they can’t see your Yelp rating, Google reviews, Facebook posts from your last event, or Instagram photos of your employees, it’s almost like you don’t exist. And in 2016, 94% of B2B marketers say they used LinkedIn as part of their content strategy.
This drastic change happened quickly, at least in the grand scope of things. And huge changes like this continue to happen every day in digital marketing. If you don’t keep up with them, you’re as good as done.
With technology progressing, marketing is also progressing by leaps and bounds. With digital marketing, we can reach out to our target audience almost instantly and at a lower cost.
However, so can the competition.
When every company is using the same channels to market their services and products, creating a differentiation becomes even more difficult. Standard marketing techniques which used to work a decade ago are no longer effective.
Standing out among all the noise is the biggest marketing challenge of our age.
Disruptive marketing may be the one marketing method that will give you the advantage and enable you to step in front of the competition.
In this post, we are going to show you how to use disruptive marketing to improve your digital strategy and heighten your creative solutions to conquer today’s marketing challenge.
Oh, and if you’re not already familiar with the concept, it’s popular applications, or maybe just want a little refresher on disruptive marketing, you can check out our previous blog post on the topic.
What Makes Disruptive Marketing Work
Disruptive marketing is a revolutionary approach that breaks away from traditional advertising and marketing methods.
Technology continues to progress at a breathtaking rate, and the onus is on us to make the changes needed.
Traditional methods of advertising and marketing can cost hundreds of thousands or even millions to formulate. Unsurprisingly, they are being used less and less. They are now either a small part of the allocated budget or resigned to the recycle bin of history.
Today advertising is all about cost-efficiency and ability to impart great user experience, giving greater value.
Disruptive marketing is readily available through various channels and formats. Now that the end goal is to make your brand stand out AND lower your costs, this is the most efficient method to implement.
A few decades back companies utilized print advertisement almost exclusively to spread their message unless they had the budget to go to TV. This lead to substantial advertisement costs which were ultimately passed on to the consumer.
But now, we can create viral ad campaigns at a fraction of that cost and are also able to target a much larger custom audience relatively easily.
However, this ease of access has caused ad blindness.
To avoid this pitfall, you should try to engage them using your creativity. Innovative ads impact consumers. They give a lasting impression, making your brand appear remarkable and relevant.
SunGard, a company that sells enterprise disaster recovery plans, leveraged disruption by offering their inactive subscribers a free download for their Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide. This fit right in with their “disaster survival” theme, offered a comparison between the fear surrounding switching the cloud and surviving the zombie apocalypse, and they even gave people a chance to win a real-life “zombie survival kit.” SunGard saw in increase in email opens and click-throughs and brought back many clients they hadn’t heard from in a while.
The success of this campaign is much more attributed to thinking differently rather than a big budget.
There are various ways on how you could disrupt your market, and disruptive marketing is an adaptable and flexible approach that works well with all kinds of technology.
Types of Disruptive Marketing
In this section, we will be discussing the most common forms of disruptive marketing. There are countless ways to wow your audience, but here are a few of our favorites.
Relatable Commercial Ads
Advertisers usually utilize this method to connect with the audience and address their needs— Think “how to’s,” etc. But this is a traditional approach that could get old fast.
Disruptive marketing incorporates stories in the ads that appear more realistic, touching, and approachable. They pull the customers’ heartstrings instead of using the age-old problem-solving method.
Interacting with Consumers
Consumers get a chance to share their input while engaging in fun activities. Companies usually stimulate this excitement with games and contests. These activities contain prizes to ensure that the motivation is there for more consumers to participate.
This method is advantageous when you have a more profound message that you want to get across your audience. Remember Little Ceaser’s “Do Not Call” campaign in 2012? They repeatedly told customers NOT to call their line or bad things would happen, and to NOT visit their “forbidden pizza website.” Unsurprisingly, this made people want to visit the site and call the number to see what all the mysteriousness was about, and drove an increase in traffic to their stores. People love to be dared, and to be appealed to their rebellious nature (especially the young), to be told not to do something, so that they can do exactly the opposite.
Native Content Marketing
This is using advertising as part of the user experience. It allows you to entertain and stimulate your target audience through advertisements that no longer appear like advertisements at all. These pieces of content marketing may simply be articles conveying great info and help to the reader or they can be entertaining ‘virally optimized’ video seamlessly added as content.
Consider MailChimp’s “Did you mean…” campaign built entirely around misunderstandings and misspellings of their name. They created songs, videos, graphics, and even entire websites based on these funny words, and received over 1 billion impressions, all without the customer even realizing they were looking at an ad.
Trends in Disruptive Marketing
Just like other marketing tactics, disruptive marketing is susceptible to its own industry trends and innovations. Many are similar to trends in digital marketing in general, but here are a few (inspired by Geoffrey Cohen) that I think are worth mentioning, and that can help fuel your next disruptive strategy.
Transparency in Company and Client Relationships
Clients are demanding that brands show their softer, more “real” side. This is the way consumers appreciate companies as a socially responsible entity, and it gives brands more credibility and trust.
Content as the New Currency
Using various formats to deliver and exchange content could be considered as a transaction in its own right. Many successful companies are using the free webinar or the free downloads route to add authority in their clients’ (and potential clients’) eyes. Offering the client something of value in exchange for just their email address proves your brand can actually do what you claim.
Power of User-Generated Content
Customer reviews and social media posts have become more and more essential to the image of a brand. They can heavily influence the success or failure of a company, giving those companies the pressure to strive for better results.
This content is not created or even paid for by the brand, yet it still attracts users to the brand’s website and social channels.
Personalized Marketing as the Norm
This will separate those who utilize disruptive marketing to build trust with those who just release a new product and hope it catches on. Customers will eventually dump the latter, while the former will see the value in the personal experience and build connections and loyalty to the brand. This is also a great throwback to utilizing the 4 P’s of marketing, specifically the last P “promotion.”
Moving From Traditional to Disruptive
Okay, so I’ve laid out the different kinds of disruptive marketing, and the trends that it’s seeing.
Now it’s time to show why you need to shift from traditional marketing to a bold, new, and fresh approach.
Here’s a quick example: over time a product has come to be seen as old and outdated. Then the company releases a “new” product with basically the same features as that older one. Do you think their audience would be excited or engaged, and eventually go buy it?
I think we know the answer already.
However, if that same company introduced their “new” product in a unique way that appeals to their audience and catches them off guard, things change. People forget that the product hasn’t actually changed, and just see the flashy new way of marketing.
This is the reason why disruptive marketing is so effective. This is what keeps disruptive marketing light years ahead of traditional marketing.
That’s not to say it isn’t challenging. In fact, with disruptive marketing, everything has to be out-of-the-box. With every piece of content, you need an element of surprise to wow your audience. It is not a one-time deal; you have to do it consistently.
Disruptive marketing also tends to incorporate compassion and humanity into advertisements. It reaches out to the real person behind the potential buyer, instead of merely leaving a platform and expecting them to respond with their credit cards.
Finally, disruptive marketing is just plain more affordable. A simple viral video would only cost a few hundred to a thousand dollars, compared to a studio-made commercial ad that would be so much more expensive. Both may work, but one of them is so much more cost-efficient and therefore profitable for a brand.
How Disruptive Marketing has Evolved with Digital Marketing
Although disruptive marketing is still a new tactic in the entire breadth of marketing, it’s still seen some changes. The evolution of it has happened alongside digital marketing, as marketers have adapted with the technology and tactics of the times and found the right ways to utilize them.
If you are reading this any time in 2018, I am assuming that you have a mobile device with you. Androids, iPhones, iPads, tablets, smartphones… you name it. Any handheld device that can access the Internet is an intelligent mobile device.
Once the general mindset moved to “mobile first,” disruptive marketing had to follow. Branded apps and games, social media influencers, voice activation, incorporation with wearables… all of these things have come to fruition as disruptive marketing tactics in recent years.
Your mobile device is not just a communication tool and the portal to your social media and gaming habits. It is the biggest potential growth area for marketing.
So optimizing every piece of marketing you create for mobile users is a must. Using progressive advancement in design means that you start your design with the most basic mobile concept first and then build extra functionality into the desktop or tablet versions.
Is creating everything to cater to just mobile users a bad thing? Well, the design can lose a few aesthetics in the process. But since the vast majority of purchases are made on mobile, it’s probably worth it in the long run.
Like we said before, user-generated content is a growing trend in all fields of marketing. Social media is a powerful entity which can make or break a company. It is a double-edged sword which you can wield to reduce the competition. One wrong move though, and your company can be wounded deeply.
Platforms like YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram are the usual avenues that a full-service digital marketing agency will utilize to get brand recognition.
Interactive contests such as posting selfies or live videos are becoming the norm. These customers are representing the brand becoming ambassadors and sharing with everybody, making the brand more recognizable without the need to spend a fortune.
One incredibly successful example of disruptive social media marketing was Volvo’s 2015 Super Bowl campaign. They asked users to tweet at them with #VolvoContent whenever they saw a commercial for a different car company, this during the time with arguably the most watched commercials all year. The tweets entered users into a contest to win a new car, and Volvo stole away all of the airtime other car brands paid thousands or millions of dollars for.
This tactic kept people talking about the brand even after the Super Bowl was over, and Volvo saw increases in sales up to 70% in the months afterward. All of this from content users created for free, as part of the “greatest interception of all time.”
Like all digital marketing has come to be, disruptive marketing is not just about making noise. You need to actually have something meaningful to say.
You can have the most viral or charismatic campaigns in the world. However, if you are not consistent in establishing relationships, then your clients will leave when the next viral campaign comes along.
People are now more marketing intelligent (or at least marketing aware) than before. They are not easily fooled, and customer voices are now much louder and more impacting.
Dove’s Real Beauty campaign is renowned for its success and ability to connect to customers in a very real and emotional way. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t risk for them to fail.
In 2017, Dove tried to further capitalize on the idea of body positivity by releasing their soaps in a variety of different shaped bottles as an homage to different body shapes. Customers saw right through this, and the brand faced tremendous backlash for comparing women’s bodies to bottles of soap.
During conception, this campaign probably seemed like a great idea— creative, disruptive, and impactful. But in reality, Dove only thought about the product and not the actual connection with customers they’d established with the Real Beauty campaign.
If you don’t use disruptive marketing in an honest way and establish real human connections with current and potential clients, no matter how creative and flashy the idea, it may still fail.
Don’t Just Use It, Use it Right
Like I said before, disruptive marketing is going to be different for every brand. While creativity is encouraged and necessary, you still have to follow your industry and voice, and find your footing in disruptive marketing in ways that will benefit you.
Develop a Brand Bible
Your first step in this process should be a comprehensive branding guide. It will serve as the foundation of your company values and culture.
You need to represent your brand with a strong visual identity. Creating a strong brand takes time and lots of creative effort. However, the rewards are manifold.
You also need to establish a mission-vision statement in your brand bible. Make sure it spreads the right message to your employees and your customers. Let them know what makes your company a cut above the rest.
Every piece of marketing you create should align with the values in your brand bible (even Santa has one, to help him stay on track). Having these concepts set in stone (or really a Word document) will help ensure you don’t stray too far from your brand when ideating disruptive marketing campaigns.
Tracking Your Business’ North Star
The “North Star” metric defines how you deliver your product’s core values to your consumers. If followed correctly, you will be able to acquire new clients and strengthen bonds with existing ones.
For instance, Facebook’s North Star is its daily active users. From that point, they already have a basis on how to increase these metrics by capitalizing on their usual activities and posts.
To determine your brand’s North Star, you should understand the value your customers are getting from your product. You can do this by checking existing user engagement and activity levels.
And again, make sure you keep this metric in mind when you’re creating marketing strategies. Make sure it’s trackable and improbable, no matter what your campaign is.
All Metrics Are Essential
No seriously, they are. So track them religiously.
While your “North Star” metric is the most important, it’s not the only one you need to pay attention to. Making your brand healthy takes a lot of meticulous tracking, monitoring, and lists of the improvements needed. Focus on how you can record your progress accurately.
There are tons of analytics companies and software out there that can help with this. Get the most accurate one you can find.
Once you got everything you need, organize and format them with spreadsheets. You need to compare these sets of data to track your progress accordingly.
If your campaigns aren’t working, change them. If your disruptive marketing isn’t panning out, then try something else that’s new or edgy.
In the end, innovation is key. Every time a new invention hits the market, there is a long line, full of potential buyers looking forward to grabbing the product.
You have seen them all grow. IBM, Nike, Microsoft, Apple, McDonald’s, the list goes on. These companies started out employing traditional marketing tactics and became powerhouses in their own right. They spent millions of dollars and decades to perfect their brands.
But this is also possible for smaller brands, with much smaller budgets. Digital marketing shows us the possibilities are endless, and the expectations are so much higher. To make your mark and stand out in a noisy world, disruptive marketing is your chosen weapon.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend millions like these giant brands. However, it does take innovative thinking and attitude. Some ideas that seem off the wall right now will soon be the norm.
But with the right creative mindset, all is achievable.
Marketing agencies adapt to evolution— it’s their core creative function. MESH has many years of experience helping B2B service companies market, adapt and grow their businesses with digital marketing and a variety of interactive tactics. We’ve been recognized as one of the top Digital Marketing Agencies in Boston on DesignRush. If you’re looking for more advice on disruptive marketing techniques or any digital strategy guidance, we’d love to help.