We’ve all hit it – that wall that seems to sap away all your magical creative marketing juices. Suddenly you feel like Peter Pan without his pixie dust. But don’t worry! All you need is a bit of help to kick your marketing strategy back on track.
And guess what? We’re dishin’ out 64 creative marketing and advertising ideas plus inspirational tips to help you bust through that brick wall, generate more leads and increase online sales. Let’s get started.
Table of contents
Social Media Marketing Ideas
Push your handles
If you’re really looking to bump up those Twitter followers, you can’t be afraid to be a bit shameless. Speaking at a conference? Put your Twitter handle on the slideshow (heck, keep it in the corner the entire presentation). Ordering new business cards? Better include that adorable handle!
Very cool Twitter-themed business card from Luis Felipe Silva
Join in on daily hashtag themes like #ThrowbackThursday
If you want to build your social media following, you need to be an active participant in the community. This means posting regularly and also joining in on fun weekly social media traditions that already have a loyal audience. Show the kids how hip you can be! Get 100+ creative hashtags for every day of the week here.
Instagram Stories are little 24-hour scrapbooks for your account where you can add pictures, video, text, stickers, and other special effects throughout the day. These are a popular Instagram media type where you can be spontaneous and creative without worrying about perfection. The idea is to be transparent and unpolished!
Pin your own images (and others)
Don’t underestimate the value of this image-sharing site. Post your strongest visual assets (templates, infographics, etc) on Pinterest and link them to your webpages for some serious traffic.
Keep social tabs on competitors
Facebook business pages allow you to follow other accounts via the Pages to Watch feature. Follow your competitors and see what they post, and which of their posts get the most shares and likes. See what works and follow their lead.
From Inside Facebook
Urban Marketing Ideas
Living in a concrete jungle allows for some pretty creative concepts.
Step out on the streets
In an online age, there’s something to be said for going au naturel and exercising a little IRL marketing. Go old school with flyers and poster in local cafes, do some sidewalk chalk writing. This strategy is most effective for locally oriented businesses, but it can work for anyone.
Street chalk Twitter handle by Marquette ITS
Commission a mural
Try getting permission to decorate the side of a prominent building with a large mural. Murals can make for great marketing campaigns.
Great Di Bruno Bros mural found on Yelp
Use your surroundings
Get a little imaginative and think about how you can use your urban surroundings for potential marketing magic.
Very creative urban marketing efforts by Vijar Barbecues, found on Owni
Urban living results in some unique marketing opportunities you won’t find elsewhere. They secret is, you need to think creatively to capitalize on these opportunities.
Citi Bank sponsoring Citi Bike
Contest Marketing Ideas
Photo contests are great for a number for reasons – they’re relatively easy to enter (anyone with Instagram and a few spare seconds can submit), and they also provide sponsors with a great form of user-generated content that can be reused and implemented elsewhere.
Check out Harpoon Brewery – they’ve mastered the art of photo contests. (And click here for more Instagram marketing ideas.)
Not as many people will enter video contests, but you’re more likely to get a higher caliber of content since creating a video requires more effort on the user’s part. This kind of content can be extremely valuable for businesses down the line, especially when you have talented filmers creating video content just for you!
Submit your vote contests
Voting contests get a ton of entries because they’re so easy to participate in (just click a button, in most cases). What’s cool about voting contests is that you can use the data obtained from the votes to create a mini data study. Share what you learned in a blog post!
Post a photo and ask users to submit their best caption – this kind of contest can get some pretty great laughs.
The most traditional of contests, sweepstakes/giveaways are a tried and true classic. They are quick and simple to enter – plus it’s easy to ask for email subscriptions as part of the submission form.
Marketing Ideas for Contest Promotion
Post to deal sites
People love free stuff, some more than others. The people who really love a good deal tend to frequent deal sites and forums. There’s almost always a sweepstake/contest forum section where you can add your contest into the mix.
I’ve seen contests in which 90% of traffic is driven from these types of sites – alright, they aren’t always the most qualified leads, but if you want quantity over quality, this is a sound strategy. Start of submitting to Slickdeals and go from there. This can be a great form of restaurant marketing.
Hashtag-ify your contest
Adding a relevant (and unique) hashtag to your contest helps you keep track of entries and makes them easy to scan through and organize. Besides, they’re just plain fun.
Make contests super sharable
This means adding “share this contest” buttons if you have an entry form on a website, or simply encouraging social sharing in general. The more people who know about your contest, the merrier (for you anyway)!
Offer bonus points for sharing
If you offer users bonus points for sharing news of your contest via social media, they’ll be much more likely to concede. Tools like Rafflecopter make it easy to offer users extra entries for different actions (e.g. Joining the mailing list = +5 entries. Sharing contest on Twitter = +2 entries).
(image from Website Spot)
Notify email subscribers of contest
Remember, you already know that your email subscribers like you and are interested in what you have to offer. If you’re running a contest for a free year of your software, you know your subscribers are going to want in!
Promote your contest on (all) social media
If you’re running a photo contest via Instagram, make sure you still promote the contest on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. You want all your followers, across all social media networks to know about your great giveaway! And promoting your contest means promoting your business.
Share buttons from WordPress plug-in
Content Marketing Ideas
Regardless of your small business idea, you’re going to need content marketing to spread the word. Try out some of these.
Write for your audience
The best pieces of content are the ones directed at your key audiences. Understand your customer: know their pain points, what gets them psyched, and what keeps them up at night. Killer content addresses your audience’s needs and concerns!
Add a visual element to ALL your content pieces
People get bored with text really fast! To keep visitors reading, it’s essential to have images breaking up your text paragraphs. Don’t overlook the importance of a visual element, even in blog posts that are predominantly text-based. You can see some examples of highly visual business blogs here.
We know readers love visual content, and infographics are a prime example of beloved, linkable visual assets.
While the idea of creating a top-notch infographic may sound daunting, it doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t need fancy software – in fact, you can make a decent infographic just using Powerpoint. There are plenty of infographic guides templates out there to get you started. Speaking of…
Templates are another powerful form of visual assets that visitors find extremely helpful. Templates serve as a visual framework that can help users create custom pieces without completely starting from scratch. Take this landing page template as an example – it explains the basic layout and fundamentals, letting users get a grasp on great landing page essentials before making their own.
Graphs & charts
The infographic’s less cool cousins, one-piece graphs and charts still have their place as formidable pieces of visual content. They may not be as impressive as infographics, but they require considerably less time and effort to create and are still shareable, so don’t be afraid to use them generously. For visual learners, a graph will be much easier to interpret than a chunk of text and numbers. Make sure you appeal to all kinds of learners!
That’s why you find so many dragons at the animal shelter (image from Reddit)
Video is an incredible marketing strategy when it comes to promoting a new product or service, or drawing in and retaining the attention of users. The retention rate for visual information can reach 65% vs. 10% for text-based info. Plus, customers who view product videos are much more likely to convert than those that don’t. Video content is a powerful tool, whether you’re trying to demonstrate how your product works IRL or educating visitors.
Are you hitting a content idea wall? For an easy content marketing fix, collect interesting statistics on a subject matter related to your biz and create a blog post about what you’ve learned. Massive stat lists are easy to make and extremely sharable. Plus, some of the wilder stats may get your gears turning about other content ideas, such as…
Play the soothsayer by predicting future trends in your industry – just make sure you have at least some data to back up your hypothesis.
Controversial content always earns attention, but it’s not for the faint of heart – playing with fire can get you burned! Rather than stirring up controversy yourself, the safer road may be to answer or respond to larger industry controversy with your own interpretation.
Rumors travel fast
Aggregate awesomeness from other sources
Another easy way to create killer content is to curate quality content from elsewhere. No, it’s not stealing … at least, not if done properly.
It’s completely kosher to borrow content from other sources if you’re doing something new with it. For example, take our guide to the best SEO Reddit AMAs. The content we quoted from was originally posted on various Reddit forum threads. We took what we deemed the “best” portions of the Q&As from different threads and put it all together to make a super SEO advice guide. This new post is much easier for users interested in SEO to read, rather than scouring through various Reddit threads. NOTE: Play it safe by always giving credit where it’s due.
Ask the experts
Another great content marketing idea is to interview industry thought leaders with set questions and share their responses in a blog post; for example, our interview with industry experts on the future of PageRank. This kind of content tends to do well, and it’s always interesting to see where industry gurus agree and where they don’t. One great thing about sharing expert opinions – chances are, the folks you write about will share your write-up with their own followers! (Pro tip – ask the opinions of groups with large Twitter followers!)
A very impressive panel of experts
People go nuts over top 10 lists – top 10 tools, top 10 blogs, you name it.
Piggy-backing on top 10s are lists in general. Starting your title with a number can make it stand out more in search listings (e.g. 3 Ways to Slice a Pineapple). Why do people love lists? Because they are super scannable and quick to read. This is probably why over a third of Buzzfeed’s posts have a number in the title. Great content strategies involve a mix of quick, snackable content pieces and more in-depth, long-form articles. Variety is the spice of life, yo.
Product comparison guide
Decisions, decisions – oh, the pitfalls of capitalism. It’s tough being a consumer with so many products to choose from. Help out users with a marketing comparison guide, especially if you have a series of product offerings for different needs. If you’re comparing your product with competitors, be objective and fair; maybe you’re a better fit for small businesses, while a competitor is better for larger corporations.
Alternatively, write up a comparison guide for a product you don’t offer, but which relates to your audience’s business. For example, a video game reseller could write a product comparison guide for different video game controllers. This is helpful content that gets relevant users familiar with your brand; and a strong brand makes for strong advertising.
Content is an open door
Don’t just create awesome content and abandon it – feature your best stuff in other related blog posts as well. You can link to or call out other pieces of content mid-post, or list some related articles at the end of your post. Something along the lines of “Want to learn more about ________? Check out our _________ guide and our __________ infographic.”
Content, love = apples, oranges. (Image from Disney’s Frozen)
The slideshow is back and better than ever! Repurpose PowerPoint presentations for audience-friendly slideshares. Check out these tips from Jonathan Colman on getting more views on Slideshare.
Host your own free webinar or partner with another business for twice the expertise (and twice the promotion power). Webinars are a great source of business leads.
Google related search
Checking out the Google related searches (found at the top and bottom of the SERP when you perform a search) for a keyword query is a great tool for generating content ideas. Just Google a term and see what related searches turn up. You may be surprised!
There’s a lot of debate around newsletter opt-in pop-ups. They’re annoying, they’re intrusive, but quite often, they also work! A/B test one and see how it affects your newsletter subscriptions. If newsletter subscribers have proved to be valuable leads for your business, do what you must to obtain them.
Continue your lucky streak
Not sure what to write about? Go into your analytics account and take a peek at your most popular posts to see what subjects users get excited about, then write a variation or extension of one of your most popular posts.
Another great marketing idea is to write a comprehensive ebook on a known pain point or popular industry topic, then create a quality landing page around the offer. Better yet, don’t start from scratch; repurpose past blog posts and articles into a mega e-book collection.
There’s always someone just starting out in the biz; beginner’s guides and Industry Knowledge 101 content pieces will always get linked to and shared around by newbs.
Even great content needs promotion
Don’t just publish your content and expect it to promote itself; share it with a promotional email or through your social media channels.
Post about industry hot topics
What’s the buzz in your field? Post about topical news and trending topics related to your industry to get in on the burst of action and show that you’re in the know.
While the SEO value of guest posts has been called into question, there’s nothing wrong with guest posting if done right. Just focus on the value of getting your brand in front of a new audience, rather than the links.
(Image from Flickr user matsuyuki)
Guides, ebooks, white papers – they’re kind of all the same thing, but labeling your assets differently can help your message resonate with different audiences. Test your labels to see which works best with your prospects.
This should go without saying, but only produce quality content that you can be proud of! Google hates thin content, and users don’t like it either.
Show some skin
I mean metaphorical skin of course – show that you are not a robot. Don’t be afraid to have some fun and show off your company’s personality. Express yourself; and if that means literally showing some skin, well then, more power to you. You’re human after all.
Producing your own virtual magazine is another epic form of content marketing. For a great example, check out Dark Rye, a stylish online magazine produced by Whole Foods. For a quick and easy fix, make your own online newspaper with Paper.li.
Podcasts are great because users can download them and then listen on the go! Possible podcast concepts include discussing hot industry news or interviewing experts, in your space.
If you attend a conference (or even an online event), consider writing a post about what info you gathered from the event, what you found valuable, etc. Chances are others will find it valuable too! Use the hashtag from the event in your promotional efforts.
Collaboration can extend your reach and build your reputation. Consider all the different partnerships you could build – partner with a charity? A related business? You can co-author a blog post or guide, co-host a webinar, etc.
Memes are fun and familiar for internet-goers. Get a little cheeky with some fun memes – it’s easy to make your own with sites like meme generator.
Sometimes great content marketing ideas also serve as fantastic forms of social proof. Take this inventive content project by a haunted house called Nightmares Fear Factory. They take photos of victims…er, I mean guests, and post them to their Flickr feed. The photos are absolutely hysterical and prove that Nightmares Fear Factory is as scary as they claim to be! (Thanks for the heads up from Shopify).
Divvy up your content
Don’t go content-overboard or you’ll end up overwhelming users. We live in a competitive attention economy, and if you’re creating new stuff every single day, people may tire of you, even if everything you share is excellent. Them’s the breaks, kid. Figure out what pace works for your audience.
Conduct a content audit
Is your existing content up to snuff? What is driving conversions? What isn’t – and why? Asking these questions might make you sweat, but you’ll be better off knowing the truth. Finding the answers to these questions will ensure that your marketing strategy moves forward in the right direction. Learn how to do a content audit here.
These are a great way to market your business Create awesome, valuable tools that your audience will find useful. You can use parts of the tool to push towards your product offering, but make sure the tool itself is high-caliber – don’t just make it a glorified sales pitch. Providing free tools will make users think fondly of you and extend your brand as more people share your awesome free tool!
With 79% of internet users conducting online shopping via mobile devices, you should be embarrassed if you’re not mobile-friendly. This is not optional, although many still treat it like it is.
Gamification is a great marketing idea to get users excited about engaging with you. As on Whose Line is it Anyway, the points are meaningless, but you’d be surprised how much people really enjoy getting points. We all love instant affirmation – it’s like virtual crack!
Apps like Belly and Foursquare combine gamification with customer loyalty programs. Starbucks also has its own tame version of gamified loyalty programs in which you earn stars for Starbucks purchases. Consider if gamification could work for your biz.
Get by with some content help from your friends
There are a ton of great tools out there to help you find quality content (Storify & Buffer to name a few). Remember, you don’t want to just share your own content – sharing great pieces by others in your industry shows that you’re a team player and valuable source of unbiased knowledge.
While newspaper funnies are a dying breed, online comics are alive and thriving! Consider making your own internet comics that relate to the absurd and surreal aspects of your industry. Try free tools like Pixton or Strip Generator to get started.
Copy the masters
Watch to see who is creating great content, and follow their lead. Take a close look at clickbait sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed that get a ton of shares; while their audience and content subjects will be different from yours, they serve as an excellent study in how to improve your marketing strategy. What are they doing right? Can you implement something similar?
Take your time with titles
While we’re on the subject, Upworthy is famous for their killer, clickable headlines. Even a superb blog post won’t get the attention it deserves without a good title. Should it be clever? Eye-catching? SEO-friendly? Think about what will appeal to your audience. It’s recommended you write as many as 5-10 titles for every article, then choose the best!
The 4-1-1 concept comes from Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping. Davis’ social media sharing strategy dictates that for every six pieces of content shared on social media:
- 4 should be content from other industry influencers that is relevant to your audience
- 1 should be your own original, educational content
- 1 should have a sales aspect (coupon, product news, press release), aka, a piece of content most people will simply ignore.
The philosophy behind the 4-1-1 concept is that when you share industry thought leadership, you’re building relationships within the industry and demonstrating a certain level of selflessness which earns serious reputation points that come in handy in the long haul.
While National Fruitcake Toss Day isn’t exactly exciting, there are plenty of observances and themes for every month of the year that can help you come up with creative and authentic blog articles, social media posts, email campaigns, and more. Here are some creative monthly marketing ideas for:
Creative marketing ideas [summary]
So the next time you’re wondering the best ways to promote your business, try out these 64 creative marketing ideas:
- Promote your social media handles, even in person
- Join in on popular hashtags
- Instagram Stories
- Pin your site images and graphics on Pinterest
- Keep tabs on competitors’ social profiles
- Try urban marketing like flyers, posters, and sidewalk chalk
- Commission a mural
- Use your surroundings to your advantage
- Consider unusual sponsorships
- Host a photo contest
- Host a video contest
- Host a voting contest
- Host a caption contest
- Host a good old-fashioned sweepstakes
- Post to deal sites like Groupon
- Add a hashtag to your contests
- Make contests super sharable on social media
- Offer bonus points for sharing contests
- Notify email subscribers of contests
- Promote your contest on (all) social media
- Write content catered to your audience
- Add a visual element to ALL your content pieces
- Create data-packed infographics
- Use templates to make content creation easier
- Include graphs and charts in your content
- Use videos for interactivity
- Leverage the power of lists
- Make bold future predictions
- Inject controversy into your copy
- Aggregate awesome content from other sources
- Create an “ask the experts” roundup
- Write relevant top 10 lists
- And other lists, too!
- Write a product comparison guide
- Link to your existing content with CTAs
- Post presentations on Slideshare
- Host free webinars
- Get ideas from Google related search
- Use pop-up opt-ins on landing pages
- Use analytics to take advantage of popular content
- Write eBooks
- Create 101 guides to teach the basics
- Promote your content
- Post about industry hot topics
- Write (and allow) guest posts
- Create white papers
- Only generate quality content
- Give your company some personality and don’t be afraid to use it
- Contribute to online magazines
- Host a podcast
- Cover local and news related events
- Collaborate with peers
- Create viral memes
- Use social proof in your content
- Divvy up your content
- Conduct a content audit
- Create branded tools
- Make and promote mobile-specific content
- Use gamification to promote interaction
- Find and share content by others
- Create hilarious web comics
- Copy the masters
- Take your time with content titles
- Stick to Andrew Davis’ 4-1-1 content strategy
- Use monthly awareness themes and observances for creative and authentic marketing.
What are your best creative marketing ideas?