Marketers and PR professionals are experts at honing messages about their brand and presenting it to the public in tried and true ways.
While following this blueprint can lead to success, competition is high: many other brands vie for the same attention from consumers. Presenting your brand in an unexpected way is one option to rise above the noise.
Here are three tips to engage consumers unexpectedly:
Engage in unexpected places
Yesterday, President Barack Obama was the first president to host an AMA
(Ask Me Anything) on Reddit, a popular online community where users share and vote on content. IAmA, a concatenation of “I Am A,” is a section on Reddit where a particular person can answer any questions that redditors (users of Reddit) may ask.
Typically, the person has a very interesting job, profession, skill. or condition that they can provide insight on to the community. Needless to say, being the President of the United States is quite an interesting profession, and President Obama shocked the community when he decided to host an IAmA.
[RELATED: 10 intriguing facts about the wildly popular Reddit]
By unexpectedly engaging constituents on Reddit, President Obama was able to reap huge rewards. With the Republican National Convention in full swing, he was able to steal some of the spotlight by engaging the public in this unexpected arena.
While the redditors were thrilled to have the President talk with them on their turf (as of this morning the story on Reddit and had over 210,000 total up votes and more than 20,000 comments), national and international media paid attention as well. Stories popped up on Wired
, Huffington Post
, and CBS—all for just an hour of the President’s time.
Use your product in unexpected ways
Your consumers and many of your potential consumers are probably familiar with your brand and product or service. While they might need to be educated on the what makes your brand different, they are familiar with the basics of using it and the value it can provide. Consumers can easily get distracted and disillusioned by marketing efforts that tout the specifications of any given product.
The technology industry—the industry I work in—focuses on telling the speeds and feeds, bits and bytes, 1s and 0s of a product. However, when brands are able to tell the story of the product in an unexpected way they can rise above their competition.
Samsung did an excellent job of unexpectedly showing how fast a Solid State Drive (SSD) could process information by making an impromptu and unexpected video. Instead of touting the technical specifications of one hard drive, the tech company showed driver’s capabilities by connecting 24 of these drives—a bold and outrageous move—which resulted in blazing speeds.
The team showed the ability of these drives in unique and engaging ways, such as transferring a copy of a DVD faster than a DVD could hit the ground after being thrown out the window.
Using your product in an unexpected, and in some cases unconventional, way can help you stand out above the crowd.
Do unexpected good
Consumers find it refreshing when brands decide to do good in the world instead of constantly selling their product or services.
TOMS Shoes is a brand that understands this. Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, saw the hardships facing children growing up without shoes in South America and created a model of “One for One”—for every pair of TOMS shoes that are purchased, his company gives another pair to a child in need. The combination of a stylish product that was doing unexpected good began to catch on. As of 2012, TOMS has given away more than 1 million shoes
Doing good doesn’t always have to revolve around something charitable; it could be something as simple as sticking up for an employee.
Whataburger, a southern hamburger chain founded in Texas, made headlines this week by filing suit against NCO Financial Systems Inc., a national debt collector, for making more than 50 harassing calls to its office to collect an alleged debt of an employee
. By siding with its employee, Whataburger was able to show that it understands the plight of the average Joe, and generated significant coverage for its brand as well.
Whether charitable work or sticking up for an employee, when brands do unexpected good they can have a large platform to connect with consumers.
Doing the unexpected may not be possible every time, but when you surprise consumers and your audience in positive way it can be a powerful tool to raise brand awareness.
Garrett Heath blogs for Rackspace and has experience as a technical project manager in the cloud. He enjoys writing about how the cloud is spurring innovation for startups, small businesses, and enterprises. Follow him on Twitter @pinojo.