We talk a lot about best practices on our blog, and for good reason—they’ve worked for a lot of people for a lot of years. But how often are best practices nothing more than conventional wisdom pretending to be insight? Sure, it’s safe to use best practices. But just as with training wheels, that kind of safety can have a cost. Best practices might help keep you out of trouble, but they won’t necessarily help you break new ground. They can even limit your thinking, and that limits where you can go. So why not move from best practices to next practices?
Create Something “Cool”
That sounds a bit casual, doesn’t it? But really that’s what people engage with most. The types of marketing campaigns that go viral are the ones that captivate their audience with something unusual and different than everything else being shared around.
GRAMMY Award–winning band Arcade Fire have been working on a new album called Reflektor. Instead of just sending out a press release, the band opted to use guerilla marketing with water-soluble graffiti and Instagram posts. The band also created a website called thereflektors.com, which originally featured only a short video of someone writing “Reflektor” on a screen. Music blogs and publications took quickly to covering the short clips and images with the numbers “9/9/9”, which culminated in a nationwide release of their single “Reflektor” on September 9 at 9 p.m.
Now this exact approach may be a little too edgy for most software companies, but the concept itself is effective. Graffiti isn’t a best practice, but video and images are. It’s all about building off of those foundations.
At MozCon, Wil Reynolds (who coined the term “real company sh**” or “#RCS”) discussed the success his company got when mentioned on sites like TechCrunch, Mashable, and Wired by creating a subdomain site titled “How They Make Money.” The idea was simple: create icons of different tech companies that users could hover over and see in simple terms how they make money. Though it wasn’t directly tied to the company’s marketing focus, it got them a lot of traction and attention, which in turn led to more business.
If You Build It, They Will Come
Be confident in your ideas. Invest in them. If it’s something that is truly innovative, it will produce results. It’s a Field of Dreams scenario, except in this situation you have the tools to ensure you’ll make your dream a reality and not have to rely on the good work of Shoeless Joe Jackson’s ghost.
Take your concept and promote it through your marketing channels. Social media posts, press releases, email campaigns, etc. are all avenues you’d take to promote other promotional efforts and they’re just as viable here. Let your audience know what you’re up to. Put time, money, and effort into it. If it’s something people will find valuable, or at the least entertaining, then you’re on the right track. Innovation only works when you go all in.
Great Innovation Produces Great Results
For all of the risk there’s an even bigger payoff. In our Internet age, people want to embrace ingenuity. There’s a constant search for the “next big thing.” While landing pages and CTAs do have their place, they’re not going to get nearly as much traction as something that is off-the-wall or creative. If your idea sticks, you get the association as the company that knows how to stand out and break the mold. And that may be the best practice of all.
Dusty is the resident Inbound Marketing Specialist at Kitterman Marketing Group, a B2B marketing company that helps clients generate leads through the strategic mix of social, traditional and digital marketing.