10 Offbeat Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses


by The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)


Question: What’s an effective, paid marketing stunt (paying someone to Tweet, celeb endorsements) that’s worth the cash for startups on a budget?


1. Fiverr It for Five Bucks!

“While we haven’t had the most success with this, it was worth testing anyways – on Fiverr, you can hire anyone around the world to do almost anything you need for $5 a job. It’s fun, and while it might not help you gain thousands of new sales, you might be surprised with how you, your employees and your community appreciate the fun little things you try out from time to time.”


Danny Wong | Co-Founder, Blank Label Group, Inc.



2. Go to College

“Stunt marketing at the city-level can get pricey, due to required permissions, permits, insurance and other costs. For a budget-conscious startup, consider doing a stunt campaign at a local college or university instead. The costs will be lower — helpful for a startup — while the impact can still be comparable. Invite local reporters to maximize your PR coverage after the event.”


Doreen Bloch | CEO / Founder, Poshly Inc.



3. Publish Your Own Industry Rankings

“Think about your target customer base and what sort of rankings they’re interested in. Go beyond a list that your own company would be on — you don’t want to create anything that looks like an ego boost. Go out and find the best of the best. Make a big deal — give out awards, hold a ceremony and everything else you can think of. Send out press releases, get bloggers involved and think big.”


Thursday Bram | Consultant, Hyper Modern Consulting



4. Articles Spread Like Wildfire

“Consistent quality marketing will build a following and get attention for your startup. I’ve seen a lot of benefit getting startup leaders to contribute to fun online sites. These articles rapidly go viral!”


John Hall | CEO, Digital Talent Agents



5. Video Is the Way to Go

“Hire someone to create an informative and entertaining video about your company, and have it shared through the social networks. You can involve bloggers or online celebrities who have ties to your niche or industry to build in some fun buzz. Think Old Spice, but with a lower budget and more of a grassroots feel.”


Nathalie Lussier | Creator, The Website Checkup Tool



6. Show Up for Breakfast

“There are many chamber, club, and community breakfast meetings you can “sponsor” by offering to provide the food in exchange to pitch your company. You can also attach your card to a unique gift for the attendees. For example, we attach our business cards to tea bags to promote Sweet T Salon, and people usually visit our website and store.”


Nancy T. Nguyen | President & CEO, Sweet T Salon



7. Run a Twitter Contest

“Using a tool like OneKontest or Tweet My Contest is fairly simple, and a prize can be anything from a $20 gift card to Amazon to an iPad. Contests can help you gain followers and drive traffic to your website or blog, all while getting people to interact with your brand in one way or another.”


Heather Huhman | Founder & President, Come Recommended



8. Buying Social Media Followers

“Buying social media connections is definitely a “stunt” but it can build some instant credibility in customers minds. I don’t recommend it for every brand, but it’s cheap and instant.”


Lucas Sommer | Founder CEO, Audimated



9. Meet People’s Needs

“At SXSW this year, GroupMe had a food stand where they were giving out free food to people who downloaded the app. It was creative and met the need of the hungry people!”


Lauren Perkins | Founder and CEO, Perks Consulting



10. Beware of Marketing Stunts!

“Getting attention is cheap, but being remembered for the right reason is priceless. Sure, if you organize a flash mob of gorilla suits at Grand Central Station, you’ll turn a few heads, but unless you run a zoo, the cheap tactic won’t get you remembered for the right reasons. Make sure any stunt or marketing tactic is in alignment with your company’s positioning strategy.”


David Gardner | Co-Founder, ColorJar



Photo Credits

The YEC | milanocookiez