If you’re struggling to come up with some novel marketing ideas in time for Christmas, don’t worry: you're not alone! Everyone is on the hunt for ideas to stop them getting left behind.
Raccoon has been helping companies overcome marketing saturation for nearly 30 years, so if you’re looking for a few pointers to get ahead this year, you’re in the right place!
In this article, I will delve into our top 5 marketing strategies that we’ve used to help boost businesses small and large into the public eye!
- Guerrilla marketing for smaller businesses
- Signage based campaigns
- Pop-up retail, booths and displays
- Promotional vehicle displays
- Street food trucks
Guerrilla marketing for smaller businesses
Let’s face it, if you’re a smaller business getting noticed can be tough, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You might have a smaller budget, less staff, and access to fewer resources, but size isn’t everything.
Smaller businesses have the advantage of agility – you can move quickly and strike hard, whilst larger companies are still trying to make a decision.
You do have to be smart about the decisions you make though, as a smaller business you can’t just fire off a bland ad and hope for the best. You need to get creative to really stand out!
Luckily creative is what our first option on this list does brilliantly, and for a very affordable price too. Signage is a staple of the advertising world, which is why you see it everywhere.
There are enormous differences in the cost of certain types of signage, but how much you spend does not automatically equate to a higher ROI. What really gets you that bang for your buck, is your ability to come up with a creative ad that grips passers-by hook, line and sinker.
Therefore if you’re a small business, small signage is your saviour. Used creatively, small signage such as floor graphics, decals and even stickers, can drastically increase your brand awareness and make a memorable impression on potential customers and clients.
Check out this brilliant example of creative floor graphic use by dog food brand Pedigree. They commissioned a high-quality floor graphic that looked just like their dog food in a bowl. After pasting these all over town, people started taking hilarious pictures like this one and the buzz spread all over social media. Seems like even dogs have brand loyalty!
Want to know the best part? This is super cheap to do yourself. According to our pricing model, it would only cost you about £60 for 10 of the signs pictured above, and only £400 to order 100 or more!
Check out our top ten-floor graphic designs for more ideas just like this one!
Signage based campaigns
If you’re a slightly larger business or just have a larger budget, your signage options open up considerably.
Savvy marketers have been using creative signage for years to drum up fresh brand awareness and communicate key messages to customers.
Physical signage doesn’t suffer from the same level of competition digital ads do, making it easier to have a substantial impact on your target audience, but competition does exist, and you may be more limited in where you can place signage.
However, as a signage and experiential marketing specialist, we can give you strategies to overcome these limitations.
The first thing you need to remember is that just as with the guerrilla marketing example you need to stand out. You can’t be bland and you can’t be basic. You need to find a key message that not only disrupts but resonates with your target market.
One of my favourite examples is the above billboard art the BBC used to promote Dracula. During the day you can't see much, but at night the clever arrangement of bloody stakes and lighting causes a shadow of Dracula to be cast across the billboard. Spooky!
If you’ve never designed signage before you might be feeling a bit intimidated by examples like this, but don’t worry, we have resources to help you! Check out how to design effective signage for more information.
Warning! The guide is absolutely packed with design wisdom! This means it’s quite large, and you probably won’t finish it in one go. So bookmark it! That way you can keep coming back when you’re ready, furthering your design education one step at a time.
Types of signage
Billboards like the one above can be very effective, but they are only one type of signage and they can only be placed in designated locations with ads essentially renting the space.
If you want to focus on specific areas, such as high streets, shopping malls, train stations, events or exhibitions, then you will need to be thinking about totally different signage options.
To learn more and find a type that might work for you, check out our comprehensive guide on types of signage. You will learn what each type of signage is typically used for and have access to contextual examples.
Cost of Signage
The cost of signage varies dramatically based on factors such as size, material and design complexity.
Generally the smaller you go the less money you spend, the larger or more custom you go the more you will spend. However, while price is certainly important, you should prioritise your ROI over initial investment.
For more info on cost, try our quick quotes form, you can get pricing on any kind of signage, from standard offerings through to custom projects in just a couple of clicks.
Pop-up booths and displays
Word of Mouth (WOM) is still the most important metric in advertising today. 94% of WOM conversations happen offline, 88% of consumers trust the recommendations of people they know, and WOM marketing results in 5x more sales than paid media impressions. This means that connecting with customers in the real world is critical!
If you can simultaneously raise brand awareness and engage with customers, then you have a winning formula capable of getting those brand conversations started.
This is where experiential marketing strategies utilising pop-up booths or displays come in. Which you choose will depend on your resources.
If you already have brick-and-mortar stores, you can invest in custom-branded displays to attract new customers – something common in retail. Check out the image above for an example.
The effectiveness of such displays depends on your creativity and message, or as most companies do not have the capability of creating such a work in-house; upon the experience of the agency you hire.
If you don’t have your own stores or want to utilise a specific location for your campaign, then a pop-up booth or display will work better. You can buy these as simple off-the-shelf branded booths that are essentially simple DIY kits for about £200-£400, or you can hire an experiential marketing firm to create a custom booth or display for you, to better align with your vision and message.
Check out our article on experiential retail for more information. You’ll learn more about the advantages of an experiential campaign, how to create one, examples of campaigns and how to promote them.
Promotional vehicle advertising, displays and experiences
Promotional vehicle advertising, displays or experiences are essentially the supercharged versions of signage and pop-up marketing strategies.
The mobility granted by using vehicles is also a major advantage over the locational limitations of static signage.
When it comes to this form of marketing, the sky's the limit when it comes to ingenuity and creativity.
Large vehicles a particularly popular due to their versatility. A Double Decker bus can be turned into a 2-floor mobile experience, with the outside acting as a giant ad for the brand.
In the example above a double-decker was transformed into a moving stage, with international pop superstar Jessie-J performing live as the bus rolled around central London as part of a 24-hour McDonald's Campaign.
There are several tiers to this form of marketing depending on your budget and aspirations:
Create a wrapped ad
On the low end of the scale, you have vehicle wrap-based ads. This is probably the cheapest option, particularly if you have your own vehicle. A blank van can be transformed for about £2,000 into a 360-degree mobile billboard.
Rent a vehicle for wrapping
Some companies specialise in transforming vehicles of all shapes and sizes into mobile ads, often retaining a large fleet of vehicles for rent.
This is more expensive than having your own vehicle wrapped, but it really improves your options. For about £10,000 for example, you can fully wrap the exterior of a Double Decker bus and hire a driver to circle Central London for you, something retailers like Harrods have been doing for decades.
Create a mobile display or experience
There are some companies that will take things beyond a simple moving billboard though. It’s possible to fully transform the interior and exterior of a promotional vehicle to your specifications to create a mobile brand experience.
From food and drinks carts to mobile retail stores the possibilities are only limited by your imagination, and ultimately your budget.
One of the major advantages of using a promotional vehicle is that you can hit up multiple venues, cities or other locations within a short time span.
In a campaign lasting a week, you could sample London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.
The cost of a project like this varies greatly. At the low end for smaller vehicles with less customisation required, you might pay around £4,000 - £8,000.
If you want to use larger vehicles and require a fully bespoke interior you would be looking in the region of £10,000 - £25,000+.
At the high-end, multi-vehicle, multi-season campaigns spanning cities up and down the UK can easily cost £80,000+.
It is expensive, but there is a reason companies are willing to invest this level of capital into a promotional vehicle display: that all-important WOM factor.
At the end of the day getting products in hands as part of a fun and novel experience, whilst talking to engaging and friendly brand ambassadors gets those conversations going.
And not just offline but online too, half the reason these vehicles look so disruptive is so that people share them on social media and spread the campaign further.
Smart marketers take an omnichannel approach, embedding social media elements into the design in order to incentivise sharing.
To learn more about this novel strategy, read these 8 simple steps to prepare you for a promotional vehicle campaign.
You will learn how to plan for a promotional campaign, and be able to explore an example of how these campaigns work in practice.
Street food trucks
If you’re a food business struggling to gain new customers or just want to take advantage of seasonal windfalls such as Christmas markets, summer food festivals or other catering opportunities, a food truck is a real asset.
Whether you actually plan to sell street food or demonstrate a more mainstream food product doesn’t really matter, what matters is the convenience and mobility a food truck affords you.
You’re able to chase down opportunities and get your brand out there, instead of waiting for opportunities to come to you.
This form of marketing works even if you aren’t a food business: you would be amazed how long people will be willing to listen to you when you hand them a free coffee or ice cream. Delicious food makes fast friends, especially on a cold Winter's day!
In the above example, Fresh wanted to demonstrate how natural and healthy their new skin products were. In order to demonstrate this they used one of the ingredients, a type of plant-based milk, as an ingredient to serve in hot drinks! What a great way to prove value and build trust!
If you know you will have a permanent need for a food truck in your business then it's definitely worth commissioning one from a street food truck design and build company. They can build you a custom-branded truck from the ground up, with a kitchen bespoke to your menu and requirements.
Commissioning a street food vehicle from the ground up will cost about £20,000-£60,000 depending on your requirements. It’s definitely more of an investment than some of the other ideas on this list, and may even require a loan if you are a smaller company.
If you don’t think you will need a street food truck permanently or just want to test one out to see if buying would be worth it for your business, renting is a better option. Many promotional vehicle companies will hire out vehicles for street food and it’s cheaper than commissioning one.
Check out our Ultimate Guide to Street Food Trucks for more information. You will learn the importance of developing a business plan, how to fund a street food business, food truck regulations and permits, how to buy a food truck, how to plan a food truck menu, food truck business ideas, how to attract customers, and the benefits of a food truck to established restaurants and chains.
So what should I choose?
Choosing a marketing idea that's right for you, especially in time for Christmas, isn't easy. But if you got to the bottom of this article, then you'll now know there is a whole range of marketing possibilities that you may not have tried.
But which do you choose? At Raccoon we're passionate about educating our readers and potential customers: we want to help you find the best option for you! To find out which one of our options is right for you, you are going to need to do a bit more research.
Click through to the resources provided at the end of each section in this article. This will allow you to become more educated on each option and, ultimately, find a solution that will align with your marketing goals.
Good luck with your festive marketing efforts, we wish you all the best at Raccoon!