8 Marketing Ideas to Grow Your Start Up to Mythic Proportions

mythic

Ever wonder what companies like Apple or Nike did to become worldwide icons? Or how they created devoted followers? Their success almost seems like a miracle.

But trust me, it’s not. Their success can be copied!

Here are 8 ideas that can inspire you to create marketing campaigns that generate tremendous buzz, resonate with people, and eventually become a part of your customers’ life.

Idea #1: Place your product in an unexpected marketing channel

Did you know that M&M’s was originally offered the opportunity to appear in the movie E.T.? Yet, for whatever reason, they turned it down. Spielberg then approached Reese’s Pieces who jumped on the chance, and their product then became a legend.

If your start up has a physical product, start thinking about unexpected places to promote it.

Maybe you know a rock band that’s pretty successful on a regional level that creates popular music videos. Why not ask them if you can get your product into one of their videos?

Another example I saw recently is when the video chat room Chill teamed up with Snoop Dogg to allow people to hang out with the rapper while he shared videos. This was a great way to introduce a different audience to their product.

Idea #2: Use humor

Some of the weirdest commercials out there are the ones by Old Spice. But I also think they’re the funniest. So do tens of millions of people!

Whether it’s the sea captain with a wife who wants to kiss his lips more than normal or Isaiah Mustafa telling ladies that their men could smell like him, these videos on YouTube are a sensation.

How could you come up with ideas for your start up? A good place to start is by watching a show like “The Funniest Commercials of the Year.”

You could also watch stand-up comics on Netflix or spend some time on a site like Funny or Die. The trick is to pay attention to what is popular.

The nice thing about a site like YouTube is that it makes it cheap to produce a viral commercial. All you have to have is a video recorder and simple editing software, and you are in business!

By the way, you don’t always have to come up with an original idea. Sometimes you can modify a current idea to fit your product or service like First Round Capital did with the Old Spice ad, which got them press in Mashable and TechCrunch.

Idea #3: Create an unforgettable promotional gimmick

When Lance Armstrong got cancer back in the 1990s, he started the Livestrong Foundation to help raise money for a cancer cure. To help support this foundation, he started selling the yellow bands you now see everywhere.

Why did this idea work so well?

The reason this idea took off is because the bands supported a great cause and were fairly inexpensive and simple for people to wear.

The bands also tapped into the deep human emotion of wanting to belong. People who wore the bands and saw other people wearing the bands felt proud of the cause they were supporting together.

Clothing items are probably one of the most popular ways to create a viral promotional gimmick for your start up.

The reason this is true is because people like to express themselves and stand out, so if you have a unique t-shirt with a unique saying on it, people will scramble to get one. And once people start wearing your t-shirt or hat, they then become a walking advertisement for you!

For example, walk around San Francisco long enough, and you’re bound to see someone wearing a t-shirt from the online company Zaarly.

Idea #4: Communicate to your customers in unexpected ways

The Goodyear Blimp is a great example of a company who has become a big part of our lives because of the clever way they advertise. You get excited when you see the blimp and want to tell your friends or children right away.

If you want to create a clever and unexpected way to communicate with your customers, try thinking about things that stand out and fascinate people.

One way the Yellow Cab Pizza Co. grew its business was by delivering pizzas on mopeds painted yellow and black like a cab. If you’ve ever seen one, you know how much they stand out.

Maybe you can’t afford a fleet of yellow and black mopeds. Then try blogging in a unique way. That’s what two amateur chefs did when they opened their Manhattan store The Brooklyn Kitchen.

The pair focuses their blog on providing useful and targeted information to their readers, which includes videos on how to saber a champagne bottle or shuck an oyster.

Idea #5: Keep it simple

Sometimes the best ideas are very simple, like the Nike swoosh. That little curled check mark was designed in 1971, and to this day people all across the world recognize it.

Google’s search engine interface is another example of simplicity becoming legendary.

When Page and Brin started the company, one of their ideas was to keep the home page free of just about anything except the search box. This immediately stood out to people because other search engine home pages were cluttered.

In fact, in the early days, there was a Google user who kept a daily count of the character count on the home page and would email the company with a complaint if it got too high.

It doesn’t matter if your product is complex or if you provide a complicated service. You can still keep your logo or message simple, like the social media productivity tool TaskRabbit did.

Idea #6: Go to the media your audience is using

A partnership with MySpace helped the movie High School Musical get the attention and the buzz it needed to make it big. This made sense because a lot of high-schoolers were spending time on MySpace.

Do you know where your customers are spending most of their time? Is it on Facebook? Or at the movies?

Don’t know where your customer is spending his or her time? Here are a few simple ways to find out:

  1. Ask your target customer – pick up the phone and call a few friends or family who you think might be interested in your product.
  2. Create a survey – this is really easy to do online with tools like SurveyMonkey or KISSinsights.
  3. Research – Companies like eMarketer, Forresters and Neilson provide excellent research data on people’s media habits.

Idea #7: Look for slogans that will last

You probably have heard of the catchphrase “Where’s the Beef?” Did you know that it started as an advertising slogan in 1984 for a Wendy’s commercial with a little grandmother demanding a big burger?

It got so popular that 1984 presidential candidates Gary Hart and Walter Mondale used it against each other during their debates.

So, what makes a good slogan? A good slogan isn’t just a neat saying, motto, elevator pitch or your mission statement summarized in four or five words.

A good slogan shows your customers how you are positioned against your competitors. Your slogan is communicating your value to the world, and you have to say it quickly.

To give you another idea of how this works, here’s Blendtec’s slogan: “The world’s most powerful blenders make the best smoothies!”

But the slogan alone won’t get the job of getting attention done. You have to be creative with how you deliver your value proposition.

Idea #8: Use tools creatively to spread the word

Let’s look at Blendtec again. When the company’s founder Tom Dickinson dropped an iPhone into one of his blenders and put the video online, it became famous on YouTube.

That single video started an entire series of now famous episodes of Tom dropping all sorts of items into his blenders.

What this taught his customers was how much more powerful his blender was than his competitors’. And he did it in a simple way that didn’t cost a lot of money.

What can you do to teach your customers about how you are different from your competitors? The company Common Craft did it by explaining difficult or strange concepts with white boards, cut outs and video.

The photo app Instagram did it by allowing users to share their photos on just about every social media tool. Each time you share a photo, it’s an advertisement for Instagram.

Conclusion

It’s usually not just one single factor that will create a devoted following for a product or turn a company into a worldwide phenomenon. Most often, it’s a combination of all of the above.

What other great ideas do you think can help a start up gain attention and buzz?

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Comments

  1. Thanks Neil for these.
    Since you asked, I’d also recommend for entrepreneurs who have a blog to try blogupp.com in order to build awareness.

    Hope this helps, cheers!

  2. Love #6 in particular. We spend a lot of time online as a social media marketing company, but we target local business, often micro businesses that are often not online at all yet, so we have to go old-school (print) to find our customers.
    Thanks!

  3. Trying to go viral on YouTube to promote your product is a great idea. If you have a funny, unexpected or shocking content in your video its quite likely to get a lot of attention. Also if your viral video is made well then friends will send it to their friend with similar interests so your message will travel through a targeted audience. This also costs little as the only cost you face is the production/filming of our advert. Unlike conventional Television advertising where companies spent big bucks creating adverts and throwing them out there not knowing if they will reach the right audience, also since people don’t really like being advertised to, most of the just skip through the ads. I’ve recently started a social marketing company, helping other companies create great viral campaigns is one of the things that we do. Anyway thanks for sharing these ideas with us Neil.

  4. We all want a brands for our product and always thinking big or very big to make it big. The ideas you have presented here are simple and easy to implement. Using some of these ideas we can go viral and can create our brands very easily. I like the title of your article very much, You really know how to grab attention of your reader. – Thanks for this great article.

  5. Some solid points Neil. As far as #1 and placing your product in unexpected marketing channels — Are there any “unexpected” channels for bloggers? All I could think of is the standard online spots.

    • It is a great way to get your business noticed when you place it somewhere slightly unexpected. It depends on what your product is. Any place online works real, as long as you are getting yourself out there. You just have to look for something that is or could be popular to join with.

  6. Thanks Niel, I am also a huge fan of using humor in advertising.

  7. Hi Neil,

    Once again very informative post, I think on idea #7 you can use the slogan of Nike “Just Do It”… as people can easily relate with it. Like always all your points are up to mark and you haven’t left any point to figure out. Awesome article. :)

    • That type of simple yet catchy phrase and logo is exactly what makes Nike and companies like it huge and a global icon. It is extremely easy to relate to, therefore easier to sell.

  8. Hi Neil,

    Once again a great post and thanks for the share. Tips are so awesome and going to implement these asap…

  9. Strong points, like the one “Keep It Simple” If you over complicate your products or services, you will end up scarring your potential customers.

    At the same time using the power of the net (website, social media) and tools which were not around before in the early days of Apple and Nokia, which you can leverage your business off now.

    • Yep, that is right. If you over complicate something it can ruin it.

      Definitely, networking online provides a vast market, that can reach many more potential customers.

  10. I’ll see if these ideas are applicable for our products too ;)

    Thanks for the tips Neil!

    Cheers,
    Ragil

  11. All ideas majorly focused on the engaging the customers and it is always good practise to keep in touch with your customer which maked them feel look and keep reminding that we are thankful to them because they have made purchase. Great post …

    • Yep, it is key to have your customers involved without having them take control. If you make sure they know what’s going on and show them what you are doing for them you will have a better business relationship.

    • Keeping in touch with your customers makes them feel special because you show them that your are not just using them to make money and instead act like a friend who wants to help them and cares about them.

  12. I’m still a keep it simple guy. I think you can incorporate some or all of the tips you provide, Neil, but I think a lot of start-ups gets so bogged down in their initial marketing campaign that they forget to launch.

    Simple tip? Just go out there and try to sell your product. By doing so you’ll get a flavor for who your target audience really is and what they want. Then you can jump to level 2 and implement some of the killer ideas in Neil’s post.

    • I agree, keeping it simple is always a great way to go. If you have too much going on that you can’t handle, then it is best to cut back and do what you can. Definitely, get yourself out there and see what feed back you get. It will be the best way to move forward.

  13. You can also have gathering and partys to attract media to cover your company.

  14. Another great post! In the Social Media Workshops we host, we always have guest speakers for extra marketing tips. We really try to keep peoples minds open and expanded to understanding the need to have all their marketing efforts go hand in hand. Print, Video, Email, Social, even Radio and, they are all just pieces of the puzzle that should go hand in hand. When used properly they really should just help each other grow each other…

  15. Thanks Neil, always love your posts!

  16. Marc Littmann :

    Neil,

    I appreciate the changing of the original title (Bigger Than Jesus: 8 Marketing Ideas to Grow Your Start Up to Mythic Proportions) that referenced Jesus in a way that must have been rather embarassing for you. I do, however, certainly respect your right to freedom of expression. But as a Jewish person, I am very sensitive to attempts to denigrate the most famous and influential Jew to have ever lived.

    Jesus’s formula for getting to be ‘bigger than Jesus’ was this: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself.’ Oh yeah, and also to take one for the team up on a wooden cross some years ago…I suppose Madison Avenue might go with “Love All, Serve All, Sacrifice for All” (but I think Planet Hollywood might sue…)

    I did, however, enjoy many aspects of the post, as well–good food for thought! But I do thank you for the opportunity to be heard.

    Marc

  17. Alex @ Easy ways to make money :

    I remember an ad not long ago, about a pizza parlor. The owner contracted almost all the taxi operators in our place and put an ad of his company on top of each taxi. This really made his pizza parlor known and became the town’s favorite. I consider those taxis to be an unexpected advertising channel, yet they are an effective tool.

  18. Idea #2: Use humor
    I see a lack of humour in start-ups generally and its a shame as its an area where startups can compete with the big established players.

  19. Hi Neil,

    There’s a typo up there in the second paragraph.

    It says, “They’re success can be copied!” I think you wanted to write “their”. Your word processor probably messed it up.

    Love your work. Cheers!

  20. Hi Neil,

    Always a pleasure to read from you. This are timeless ideas to copy and build a business.

    Thanks
    David

  21. Neil
    You raise some interesting tactics to raise your profile but as a new person into internet marketing (I hate the term newbie being 51), it is difficult enough to get your head around a lot of the basics that need sorting out, such as value product creation for list building etc. and what I believe the world needs at the moment is a very simple, almost ABC guide to “self promotion” in cyber space.
    How many times do you sit through a 60 minute webcast to get 3 minutes of valuable info followed by 57 minutes of sales pitch so thanks for some honest, simple info that delivers in a 10 minute read.

    • It can be difficult sorting through all the information, especially when a bunch of fluff is added. I like to keep it as simple as possible. It helps people get through it quicker, so they can learn and continue moving forward. No problem I hope I helped.

  22. Dude, you have some interesting things to say but they are overshadowed by your atrocious grammar. Is it so difficult to ask someone to review your posts before publishing? It’s a big turnoff trying to follow what you are trying to communicate when every other sentence has some error.

  23. Hello Neil. Can you help me with that RSS slider you have here yet. I really would like to have one for my blog.

  24. My favorite saying is “Get out of your head, get into the world” and I think people these days are too caught up on web presence. People still live and breath, and while I hypocritically peck out this blog comment, I’m about to leave for a promotional marketing gig that I’m in charge of getting a product into the hearts and minds of people, live! Don’t forget that we are still human beings, and showing face and your personality…in person, goes a long way.

    • I like that saying, I agree. Many people forget to on a basic level all people need interaction and communication and to get out a live their lives. Thanks for your thoughts, you have a lot of good points.

  25. All good tips for product based startups. Do you think these also work for service based startups? …or do they very some?

  26. It gives some motivation for my new business and i will be impalement it other ideas. Thanks :)

  27. Use humor… That’s a good point… Can I buy that somewhere?

  28. I think keeping it simple is key! Like you said.. look at Google. Their home page is just a search bar and a few links. Look at Yahoo, their homepage is full of everything.. and yet they are failing. Simple is key!

  29. Arthur Singler :

    Have you ever considered about including a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is important and everything. But imagine if you added some great pictures or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and video clips, this site could definitely be one of the very best in its field. Great blog!

  30. I thought without money you never done this.. but on other hand these are out standing tactics…

  31. Idea #4: Communicate to your customers in unexpected ways

    It’s refreshing to see someone who practices what he preaches – http://prointernetmarketing.co.uk/probably-the-most-creative-advertising-i-have-seen-in-years/

    Inspiring.

  32. Good None Neil!

    I think creating unforgettable promotional gimmick is very much important.

  33. A slogan must be very valuable and meaningful when it’s compared with our competitors.

  34. Thing about any startup is that you need money to make money – flying a blimp in the sky with you name on it is not cheap – all good points though – some of these points don’t cost and are all worth a try.

  35. If we have good marketing ideas its easy for us to be in market

  36. a good slogan is a very effective way of putting across your message to your customers and clients.

  37. Hope these marketing strategies do not help people in promoting bad products. Today’s strategies are so intelligently disguised to eyewash anybody.

    • The strategies are there for whomever wants to use them. What they want to promote is up to them and unfortunately no one can really control that. Hopefully people will want to promote a useful and valuable product.

  38. This is excellent. Also, if there’s a way you can align your product/company with an already established organization. For example, many best selling authors connect their books with network marketing organizations, or some companies give a % of profits to a certain charity. This plugs you into an already large group of people = profits/exposure/cult like following.

    #7 is so right on. With a blog, you have the opportunity connect one on one, and find out exactly what your audience is looking for. I think so many do not do this!

  39. You are right about humor Neil, People retain what they find entertaining than anything else. Creating a humorous approach to your business can sometimes cost you a lot more if you don’t do it right. Sometimes copying someone else or making similar humor as your competitor can totally go against you. this requires a lot of deliberation and research before you try. Humor is serious business!

  40. With big companies it seems that everything is about creating a brand.

  41. I loved this article. Who launches a start up to be small, no one. I like the strategies that you laid out, and your logic was simple. Just do what other mythic companies are doing. Thanks.

  42. hey neil,
    great ideas you have shared with us. specially the idea # 7 is most interesting one.

    Thanks.

    Matt

  43. Great tips, people need to keep on trying even when they are being met with closed doors. I have been marketing and advertising a tiny start up company that transports perishable goods. It seems like many people will enjoy using http://www.boostasite.com since it allows you to market your start up for free.

  44. The ideas you have presented here are simple and easy to implement. Using some of these ideas we can go viral and can create our brands very easily. I like the title of your article very much,

  45. Hello,,Another great post! In the Social Media Workshops we host, we always have guest speakers for extra marketing tips. We really try to keep peoples minds open and expanded to understanding the need to have all their marketing efforts go hand in hand.Thank you so much!

  46. “One way the Yellow Cab Pizza Co. grew its business was buy delivering pizzas on mopeds painted yellow and black like a cab.”

    Typo with “buy”?

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