Try Out These 8 Outside-the-Box Marketing Ideas to Grow Your Business and Engage Your Customers

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Guide to franchise marketing

It’s easy to slip into a rut, using the same old promotional material templates time and time again. So, we’ve collected eight of the best and most innovative marketing ideas to get your creative juices flowing.


When you’re concentrating on running your business and keeping up with day-to-day tasks, marketing can sometimes feel like an afterthought. But maintaining your customer base and attracting new consumers is vital to the health of your business. If you’re feeling uninspired and think you’ve tried all the usual forms of advertising one hundred times over, why not consider some of the marketing ideas below?

8 outside-the-box marketing ideas to grow your business and engage customers

1. Competitions

There’s nothing like a competition to get people interested. Injecting a bit of fun into your digital marketing strategy is a great way to engage your customers and promote your business.

For instance, pretzel retailer Auntie Anne’s recently collaborated with Coca-Cola to create its ‘Basketball Bucket’. When purchased, customers could transform their pretzel box into a basketball hoop. Fans could also use the code provided to play an interactive mobile game. Then, users would be in with a chance to win a Coca-Cola fountain soda, a pretzel or free delivery on an order.

Meanwhile, Recognition Express provided a free set of football kits to the winner of its annual ‘Unsung Heroes’ competition. The franchise encouraged local junior clubs to nominate a candidate to recognise their service to the community.



2. User-generated content (UGC)

Businesses aren’t always considered the most trustworthy of entities, particularly when they’re launching promotional campaigns. Bosses will always want to show their company in the best light – and often, this involves misleading consumers. But, by focussing on creating user-generated content, you can boost your credibility.

When people see other customers praising your business, they’re far more likely to buy your products or services than if you were simply blowing your own trumpet. So, how can you do this? Well, for example, many clothing retailers are now including images their customers have uploaded to social media. Consumers browsing products can see how the product looks on real people – give or take an Instagram filter.

To use another example, GoPro encouraged their customers to upload footage they’d captured. Back in 2013, when the craze took off, around 6,000 videos were uploaded every single day. GoPro could then use these snippets in their advertising material, showing people what could be achieved with its product.

3. Customer referral schemes

This is one of the best marketing ideas you can use to spread the word about your business – and it’s so simple! Just reward customers for telling their friends and family about their experience with your company. OSCAR Pet Foods is one franchise to take this approach. In 2018, it revealed the lucky winner of its referral scheme. Everyone who entered was put into a prize draw for a £1,000 pet-friendly holiday.

Dog handler Catherine Shore was delighted to win, saying, “It's the best voucher I've ever filled in”. What’s more, she was enthusiastic to keep promoting OSCAR among her circle:

“Having already introduced three new customers to OSCAR, I will continue to recommend Michelle, [a nutritional advisor at the franchise] through my pet-related business.”

4. Customer appreciation days

All consumers expect great service these days, so you can stand apart from the competition by going the extra mile. Running customer appreciation days, or just a customer appreciation scheme is one of the best marketing tactics if you want to foster strong customer relationships.

Why not distribute coupons, release free, personalised packages or highlight some of your loyal customers? Chances are, fans of your business will recognise the thought you’ve put into the scheme and cherish their free gifts.

5. Sales for loyal customers

There’s no better way of signalling your appreciation of your loyal customers than by offering exclusive discounts. If you have a way of getting in contact, why not send out a special money-off voucher or online code? Most recipients will feel tempted to use it and be appreciative of the company’s generosity.

If this marketing idea isn’t right for your business, you could run an event for loyal consumers. Invite your most valued customers into your premises for a one-off sale, exciting treats and fun activities.

6. Loyalty schemes

You’ll also grow your business by introducing a dedicated loyalty scheme. This way, you’ll be able to show your valued customers just how much you appreciate them all year round. But this step goes beyond just supporting those who shop with you regularly. It’ll also attract newcomers who are looking for ways to save money in the future.

As a side note, loyalty schemes have the added benefit of encouraging word-of-mouth referrals. A customer is far more likely to recommend a service or product if they believe they’re getting a good deal. If you’re looking for inspiration, Snappy Tomato Pizza, Really Awesome Coffee and Lockforce all run loyalty programmes, adapted for their own business.

7. Blogs & videos

It’s important to stay up to date with all the latest marketing ideas and really take note of the material attracting consumers. Blogs and video content are incredibly popular at the moment, and you can remind people about your business by creating them for your customers.

Rather than absorbing long, impersonal news articles, readers are increasingly drawn towards blogs, which often detail the thoughts of the writer in an engaging and informal way. For instance, see ActionCOACH’s Paul Raggio discuss measures business owners can take amid the COVID-19 crisis in his blog, 'Say Something, Not Just Anything!'

Videos, on the other hand, are consumed quickly on social media platforms. Last year, Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe created a short video for its Christmas advertising campaign, showing off its delicious range of sweets. When you’ve developed yours, you could upload it onto platforms like Facebook, or introduce it as an Instagram ‘story’.

One factor to bear in mind: 85 percent of videos are watched without sound. So, if you want to maximise customer engagement, carefully consider your video captions, rather than expecting viewers to rely on its audio.


8. Feedback

If you take just one of these marketing ideas away with you, let it be this one. There’s so much you can learn from feedback. Whether you alter your approach to customer service or work on a new concept, you have the chance to vastly improve your business. Take the time to read and reply to your customer enquiries on social media and send out after-sale follow-up emails or texts, asking customers to rate their experience. You could even offer prizes for those who write reviews on your website.

Whether you believe feedback to be accurate or not, make sure you consider it carefully and think about how you can avoid similar reviews in the future. Chances are you’ll change your business for the better in the process.

Keep reading

To learn more about how to encourage business growth by employing fantastic marketing ideas, why not read our article on how to make the most of social media marketing?

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