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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Unusual Marketing Strategies for Small Business

Written By: Carol Roth | No Comments

Nowadays, with so much competition for the attention of potential customers, it’s harder than ever for a small business to break through and get noticed. So, with that in mind, the incredible contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs have shared their best unusual marketing strategies to help your business stand out. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.

You may notice some similar ideas listed, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.

1. Uniquely Fun Strategy

Scavenger hunt contests achieve several marketing objectives with one campaign. Hide "Easter eggs" or objects on pages of your site or on location. Drop hints on social, email, and site content to attract traffic to your page/location. The cost of running these types of campaigns are minimal and they're fun for the designer/marketer and consumer. Digital and traditional scavenger hunts are excellent vehicles for building traffic, building brand loyalty, and increasing brand awareness.
Thanks to: Terese Kerrigan of FreightCenter.

2. Promote OTHER People

Social media is the greatest opportunity all of us have to promote OTHER people. There's a $14 billion industry in the United States alone called Public Relations (PR) where you give money to someone so they can have nice stuff said about you.

Now, we all have media available to us for free and you can be the purveyor of good news for other people. Be that person and be that organization, and win attention through promoting other people.
Thanks to: Spencer Smith of Spencer X Smith.

3. The Marketing Fix

Most businesses are pouring time/money or both into marketing and leading people to their generic website. Squeeze pages and landing pages have been around for a long time now, but most businesses still fail to see their relevance. Their purpose is to capture leads and enable the business to continue marketing to the new business lead. By failing to use this one marketing fix, businesses miss leads that bounce off of their site, never to return. Every business has value to share via an opt-in.
Thanks to: Donna Price of Compass Rose Consulting, LLC.

4. Newsletter About Our Prospects

I run a newsletter called Startup Resources on the side, where I do a weekly roundup of useful articles and tools related to running a startup. A lot of the mentioned resources are created by companies in CrankWheel's target audience. Whenever I mention a resource, I email the company founder, telling them I mentioned their resource in case they'd like to share it on social media, and by the way, I also wanted to mention CrankWheel to them, as it may be useful. This has brought lots of leads.
Thanks to: Jói Sigurdsson of CrankWheel.

5. Mouth > Fingers

I changed things up in 2018. I started talking WITH people, instead of TO them. I stopped sending out 'stuff' and started having real conversations with people, by phone and in person. So far, my quarter-over-quarter sales are up over 50%. I think people are tired of being talked to. They want to be listened to. You can't do that with automated emails and social media campaigns. Use your mouth more than your fingers and you'll be well on your way to more sales--and deeper relationships!
Thanks to: Mike Wittenstein of Storyminers.

6. Side Show Testimonial Support

A new website addition is to include "side show testimonial supports" - our term for adding a quote or a statistic from an organization that is an oversight body, membership group or category analyst. For example, we are a pharmaceutical packaging company, so on our website, we stated a statistic for the number of individuals using pharmaceuticals from Pharmaceutical Executive PE mag and linked to the article. For our website, this post implies support from PE mag and gained a backlink from them, too.
Thanks to: Ed McMasters of Flottman Company.

7. Bartering Your Skills

When I started my 2nd personal finance blog, Wallet Hacks, I would offer a trade with other bloggers. I would give them a 45-minute consultation on anything they wanted in return for mentioning my blog to their newsletter subscribers. The out of pocket cost to me was minimal and it helped jump-start visitors to my very new site. You have something of value in your head and someone may not be willing to pay out of pocket sight unseen, but they are willing to do other things, like promote you!
Thanks to: Jim Wang of Wallet Hacks.

8. Customers Want Experience

For brick and mortar businesses to compete, they need to provide experiences for their customers. We try to do this by having events at our store that fit in with our mission statement of promoting health. We've partnered with exercise studios to have demos, and offered classes in our store to help keep customers coming back and to keep Colorado Aromatics on the event calendars and in people's consciousness. It's a great marketing tool.
Thanks to: Cindy Jones of Colorado Aromatics.

9. Listening!

The most undervalued marketing tool today is listening. Everyone wants to post, snap, like, love, blog & vlog, but very few companies actually take the time to listen to their clients. Everyone is so busy looking for the elusive new client that they forget to pay attention to those who already love them. If they did, they would find a wealth of marketing opportunities- new divisions that they don't yet work with, new opportunities within the division they do, & referrals. Listening=$$$!!!
Thanks to: Ben Baker of Your Brand Marketing.

10. FREE – Always Works

Several years ago, while studying Search Engine Optimization, the most successful consultants repeatedly hosted FREE webinars. They would gift countless hours of valuable information weekly. From this practice, they garnered countless followers that eventually became customers. I was not in the knowledge selling business, so I modified this strategy and started to hold GIVEAWAYS on my eCommerce sites. Same result- in 4 months, we had thousands of social media followers and a rise in site traffic.
Thanks to: Robert Shirilla of RJ Manray - Promotional Products.

11. Old School & STILL Effective

With all the overwhelm with email these days, direct mail works like a charm. Too many people dismiss the mail because they have been misinformed. Who doesn't love getting mail that isn't a bill? Especially if you have some fun and make it lumpy mail by adding a pen, a piece of candy, aspirin, or something else to add some fun to your marketing and give the recipient a reason to be curious. It's fun! And, it doesn't have to break the bank! Fun in business! Have more of it! Add it to your mail!
Thanks to: Diane Conklin of Complete Marketing Systems.

12. Lose the Logic

To properly "Think Outside the Box", one has to let go of the brain's logic. It's been highly programmed by family, friends, media and schooling. To start heading towards marketing and public relations works never seen or done before, one has to get outside logic and reasoning. In this way, new fronts can be explored. This will separate one from competitors as they seek to copy your new-age techniques. At this point, more new ideas can be implemented to give you an advantage others can never reap.
Thanks to: Vickens Moscova of Moscova Enterprises, INC.

13. Don't Forget About Your Alumni

Your College and University Alumni are an important part of your marketing plan, yet so many entrepreneurs are missing this untapped PR opportunity. Alumni departments love to share the stories and success of their past students, including everything from writing articles about you in their magazines and newsletters, to nominating you for awards, to having you speak at their events, buying your books for their bookstore and library, and hosting book signings. These are all of the things (and more) my Alumni have done.
Thanks to: Charmaine Hammond of Raise a Dream.

14. Mourn Your Brand's Future

Write a memorial speech for your brand! These speeches are short, to the point, and always focus on only the best one has to say about the deceased. It is a great opportunity to dig deeper into the soul of your brand and its true purpose. A brand can only leave a lasting impact if it cared to make a difference in people’s lives; this morbid exercise will uncover the real void your brand fills in people's lives. Use the information you uncovered and infuse it into all your messaging. Amen!
Thanks to: Fabian Geyrhalter of FINIEN.

15. Partner with Competitors

As a former sales producer, I would never help a competitor. As an entrepreneur, I realize the benefits of partnering with others in the same niche.

For example, authors always want their books to rank the highest. One group and I share our books, blogs, and programs, too. The effort extends our reach, and further boosts awareness of our books and services. We are known for being top influencers and sales gurus. The best reward is the appreciative notes for the help we provide.
Thanks to: Elinor Stutz of Smooth Sale.

16. Create Controversy

I invented a video tombstone called the Video Enhanced Gravemarker (U.S. Patent #7,089,495). I also wrote a book called "Cemetery of Lies." Cemetery of Lies is a collection of intimate secret confessions, as told from beyond the grave, through video tombstones.

Video tombstones will create a lot of controversy and some fascinating Free Speech issues. The Marketing Strategy: Use controversy about video tombstones to help promote the book, and use the book to help promote the video tombstone.
Thanks to: Robert Barrows of R.M. Barrows Advertising.

17. Use Your Brand Name

In today's world, most first contacts take place via email or contact form; when I reach out to a site owner, I want to be noticed. I want them to have a reason to open my email out of all the dozens or hundreds they get each day. I do this by using my brand name. Whenever I fill out a contact form, I use my brand name of The Blind Blogger instead of my given name of Maxwell Ivey. This helps me to stand out. It's especially true for me because of my blindness, but it will work for anyone. Try it.
Thanks to: The Blind Blogger Maxwell Ivey of The Blind Blogger.

18. Bedside Reading Program

I'm placing select author's books by the bedside in 5-star luxury hotels frequented by CEOs, VIPs, celebrities and corporate decision makers who can hire speakers. The guests get to keep the books if they desire, and the hotels absolutely love the program, too. We're doing an additional summer program as well for the 5-star hotels in the Hamptons.
Thanks to: Randy Peyser of Author One Stop, Inc.

19. Listen and Tweet!

Identify your ideal clients and find them on Twitter. Then, start following them! Spend time listening to them. You’ll be amazed what they will tell you about their concerns. It’s a great way to get open and honest market research. Get a Twitter account in your business name. Post links to your articles educating people in your niche market.
Thanks to: Zondra Wilson of Blu Skin Care, LLC.

20. Targeted Messaging

ABM funnels are a hyper-effective way to market your business. Define your most important customer groups by title, industry, or any other narrow segment. Then, make content for their specific decision making process. Where are they searching for answers to their problems? What would interest this particular group about your solution?

ABM funnels target very specific market segments, helping you cut past the noise of traditional marketing messaging and focus on your very best customers.
Thanks to: Steven Benson of Badger Maps.

21. Conversations on Social Media

Many companies will "listen" for mentions of their business on the various social media platforms and will not respond to other conversations that are not directly related to them. There is a huge opportunity for companies to respond to conversations that are interesting and only slightly related to their industry. Take this a step further and share fun conversations on your own feed. This will not only liven up your brand voice, but will also help you connect with real people.
Thanks to: Jacob Dayan of Community Tax.

22. Charity!

Many businesses partner with charities every now and again, but a consistent approach allows them a steady introduction to potential new customers who are motivated to support the sponsored organization. If a small business partnered with one charity per week for one year, they would access thousands of new potential clients walking through their doors.
Thanks to: Travis Biggert of HUB International.

23. Capitalize on News Trends

Monitor your industry closely and you'll find there's a gold mine of great ways to get involved in trending topics. We love to find unique stories and expand on them, especially when the topic is controversial.

Add your two cents in and you can quickly get recognized as being a thought leader. Be careful though, you want to make sure you truly believe in what you're saying because people will always respond to controversy.
Thanks to: Wesley Flippo of Coinlookup.

24. Host an Office Tips Session

A great way to generate buzz around a small business is by hosting an informative meet up at the office. The meet up should be open to the general public, where several members of your team are asked questions about the business itself, their roles, and its industry, in order to generate further interest in the company. This can be successful, as it will attract a wide range of people, be interactive, and is a more fun and casual way to build up a business’ authority and credibility.
Thanks to: Tracy Julien of GuidedChoice.

25. Use Humor!

Use humor to engage your audience. Develop a message that enables you to highlight your competitive advantage and create a humorous theme around that – something that you can have fun with visually and that will be memorable. For example, a fun mascot like a blow-up monkey that you can use for photo ops and social media campaigns at events is a great conversation starter. When people see something fun, they remember you; they seek you out and they’re more inclined to open your emails.
Thanks to: Christine Alfano of NEA, Powered by Vyne.

26. Sending Trash Cans in the Mail

I love sending direct mail. I'm a fan of the old-school copywriting style that still gets results today. However, if I have a profitable mailing with a few "dream prospects" that haven't converted yet, I will try a final last-ditch effort to get their attention. I will send a little trash can with my letter in it that says "You've probably thrown my last few letters away, so I figured I'd give you a head start." This gets a lot of laughs and breaks the tension that comes from prospecting.
Thanks to: James Pollard of The Advisor Coach.

27. Trade Show Success

I work with vendors and suppliers to help them in their trade show exhibits. This gives them extra people power, which they appreciate, and gives me access to prospects (and the trade event) with no cost.
Thanks to: Mitch Krayton of Krayton Travel.

28. The Power of 10 (T-POT)

A business owner was outsourcing marketing for the 1st time. She felt that doing it herself would be best and cheaper than the $300 quoted, but she listened to her coach. After viewing the new collateral, she was still apprehensive. I created T-POT, which states that each piece of marketing collateral be used 10 ways. It could be that you use the whole piece again or it could be you use part(s) of the piece. Mary reaped the rewards of T-Pot with a new $5K client! Don't reinvent the wheel... use a T-POT!
Thanks to: Maria Marsala of Elevating Your Business.

29. Referral Pareto

"When referred by a friend, people are 4x more likely to make a purchase." - Nielsen Survey

Referrals are powerful. So, how do you create more referrals and leverage this power to the fullest?

Apply the Pareto Principle (otherwise known as the 80/20 Rule) to your referrer list.

Who are your top 20% referrers?

Treat them like royalty. They're the key to your financial future.

Then, profile them to uncover more top referrers like these people to target in the future.
Thanks to: Mike McRitchie of Critical Path Action.

30. Faith-based Marketing

Fellowship is encouraged by most religions. Whether you pray in a temple, synagogue, or church, your faith leader no doubt has his or her finger on the collective pulse of the congregation. Ask him or her to tell others about your business when the occasion is appropriate. And, if you don't want to enlist the leader's help, consider telling members of the congregation about the work you do when members convene in informal situations.
Thanks to: Marlene Caroselli, Ed.D. of Author.

31. Draft Follow-up BEFORE Event

I'm sure many will focus on various online tools to market products or services, but nothing will ever replace the art of the schmooze. But, are you ready to make the most of a networking event or conference? To wrap your head around all of the possibilities - write your follow-up email BEFORE going to the event. Then, you'll have a sharper focus on who you want to meet and what you want to share. You will actually follow-up soon after and not have stacks of business cards all over your desk.
Thanks to: Robbie Samuels of "Croissants vs. Bagels".

32. The BEST Outdoor Marketing

One of the best and most unusual marketing strategies is billboards on bikes… especially during summer months and in venues where other forms of advertising cannot or will not go. They get sales people away from screens and they are REUSABLE, infinitely changeable messages and very cost and eye-ball-to-eye-ball effective. Almost ANY business can use them too and a 5-pack of them, in the same town or venue, can generate all kinds of buzz and direct leads. Get your wheels out there.
Thanks to: Richard Pawlowski of

33. Power Partnerships!

Create win-win offers to partner with companies that need what you have/have what you need—and who already reach your ideal audience. This strategy worked for Microsoft, GM, FedEx… I list several more in my award-winning book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World. I particularly love win-win partnerships that create profitable solutions to such impossible issues as hunger, poverty, war, and catastrophic climate change. My clients love it when I come up with partnership ideas for them.
Thanks to: Shel Horowitz of Going Beyond Sustainability.

34. Let Customers "Know" You

If you have a niche product [even in the internet age], good old-fashioned word of mouth still rules. Find the people that have influence and impress them. Make every customer as happy as humanly possible. Each one of them is a ripple that reaches out for miles and miles.

Be likeable. Be relatable. Be genuine. Let people feel as if they truly know you… we like to buy from folks we "know".
Thanks to: Donna Chambers of SensaCalm.

35. Get Crafty!

One of my favorite stories was from Dublin’s Web Summit when over 800 startups were exhibiting (90% of them were men) and I decided to stand out by wearing Angel Wings throughout the conference (I have a dating business). When I was checking out of my hotel, I looked down at Judy Dench on the cover of the Irish Times and there I was right next to her (me on my laptop with my Angel Wings— inside there was another 1/4 page picture mentioning my business). Ireland knew about
Thanks to: Lori Cheek of Cheekd.

36. 1,000,000 Potential Customers

A unique technique we use is creating videos and sharing them in subReddits relating to our industry. Normally, businesses create videos, put them on Facebook, their website and/or Youtube, and that is all. We take it one more step and post to Reddit in order to get even more views. Two weeks ago, a video post of ours went viral on Reddit and ended up with over 1,000,000 views in 3 days. Since then, we have sold the items displayed in the video not only here in the USA, but in China, as well.
Thanks to: Jeff Moriarty of Moriarty's Gem Art.

37. Let Your Experience Speak

To market a self-help book:

Use your own experiences as a lead-in to describe some situation or problem you had, and the solution you found.

Also, generate interest before the actual product/book is released!

When I was writing FROM NOPE TO HOPE, I shared my experiences on Facebook to generate interest. I created a list of people who might buy my book.

After I published my book, I contacted them and shared even more of my experiences, which eventually led to more sales of my book.
Thanks to: Lorraine Reguly of Wording Well.

38. Your Car is a Mobile Biz Card!

Car Magnets are a local business owner's best friend. I have built a thriving architecture firm with my ONLY marketing being two car magnets that I purchased on vistaprint for under $30. To this day, I get people calling me that simply drove past my house, saw me parked somewhere, or even found a photo they snapped months prior! Sure, it might make your fancy car look slightly less fancy, but you will be laughing all the way to the bank with this not-so-typical marketing tactic.
Thanks to: Zachary Rose of Fort Lauderdale Architect.

39. Market to Current Customers

My favorite strategy is to get as much business as you can from your existing clients. People who have purchased from you in the past know who you are, trust your business, and (hopefully) have positive feelings towards your brand. Don't let this go to waste! Do you offer two complementary products? Include a discount code for one product when a customer purchases the other. Are you coming out with a new and exciting feature? Send an email letting current customers know.
Thanks to: Maggie Aland of Fit Small Business.

40. Japanese Invisible Fish

As a behavioral and marketing psychologist, customers have to like you before they like your product or service. Use humor!

Step 1: Place a rock on the bottom of a five gallon aquarium and fill with water.

Step 2: Place the following sign next to the aquarium: Japanese Invisible Fish

Step 3: Have answers at the ready to the ridiculous and inane questions you will be asked. Inform them feeding time is 4pm daily and have a bucket of ice cubes handy for them to feed the fish.
Thanks to: Elliott Jaffa of Dr. Elliott B. Jaffa Associates.

41. Instagram Lead Abduction Hack

Pay an Instagram account in your niche a few dollars to post your picture. (One client spent $43 for 3 accounts to post his picture and generated a dozen or so sales.) You want a targeted account. So, if you sell dog food, go for a “golden retriever” page instead of just “dogs”.

High relevancy paired with low cost makes your cost per customer much lower. You’ll usually break even OR make a profit while getting new customers- customers that buy from you again and again.
Thanks to: Zack Zeller of ZZ Vitality.

42. Pull a PR Stunt

If you're a small business, the best thing you can ever do for your marketing is to make yourself newsworthy. If you sell burgers, make the biggest, or the spiciest, or the cheesiest. If you're a dentist, put something over the top in your waiting room, like a full-sized pool table. If you're a plumber, go out dressed as Mario on Halloween.

As long as it doesn't make you look bad, or doesn't contradict your business's strengths and values, almost anything is fair game.
Thanks to: Joe Goldstein of Contractor Calls.

43. Pinterest List Building

I write relevant blog posts with valuable content, create attractive pins with compelling headlines, and pin them to the relevant boards on my profile, as well as larger group boards with tens of thousands of followers. It's the most cost-effective way to reach mass audiences.

Not only is Pinterest the largest source of referral traffic, the platform has helped me grow my email lists significantly. For example, on average, I generate between 500-1,000 new email subscribers per month.
Thanks to: Kristin Marquet of Creative Development Agency.

44. Gorilla Proximity Marketing

The business owner places a Bluetooth transmitter (Oreo Cookie Size) in their brick and mortar location. The transmitter sends a 40 character text message along with a web link to the company's website to every Android smartphone that comes within 200 feet of the business location.

The customer doesn't need an app; the notification shows up in the Google Nearby notifications. They can also carry this transmitter around with them or even inside company vehicles and advertise everywhere.
Thanks to: Seth Phillips of Gorilla Proximity Marketing.

45. How to Use Pets to Get Close

We recently decided to tackle the same challenge. How do we evoke a personal connection with our customers? We have around 2,000 currently and we want to figure out a scalable effective way to get closer to them.

After brainstorming, we came up with an idea to tap into our customers' souls through their pets. When a homeowner signs up for our service, we gather information on if they have pets and if so, what are their names.
Thanks to: Zach Hendrix of Zach Hendrix.

46. An Extra Bit of Love

Not only do we love on our radio program guests by featuring them on the website, we also create custom marketing material for each guest to use when linking back to their program, and for use in their marketing to promote their expertise and appearance.
Thanks to: Jess Dewell of The Voice of BOLD Business Radio.

47. The "Give to Get" Method

My favorite out-of-the-box marketing strategy is our "give to get" strategy. We give away one of the exercises from our program, Facial Magic Facial Exercise System, on our website and anywhere else we can. Once people try the upper eyelid exercise and see their wide-awake, refreshed look, they are hooked.
Thanks to: Cynthia Rowland of Rejenuve, Inc.

48. Hobo Marketer Disrupts City

Who else almost failed when you first started out? Why? For me, I couldn't get a sale! Until it came to me one night driving home... I was at a stop sign when I saw a hobo with sign that read "Why Lie I Need A Beer" and Boom! It clicked. The next day, I was on the same corner with my white collar & tie, 200 resumes and a sign. "Why Lie I Need A Job!" I did that for 6 weeks! I stopped because I couldn't keep up with the work load.

Bottom Line- If You Can't Stand Out...Stand Somewhere Else!
Thanks to: Jason Paden of PhxAZ.Today.

49. Leverage Keyword Alerts

One uncommon marketing strategy we utilize is we create a Google Alert for specific keywords relating to our industry. This allows us to know which journalists are covering our market. If they mention one of our competitors or are working on content that relates to our product, we look for opportunities to get involved.
Thanks to: Eric Jackson of CapLinked Virtual Data Rooms.

50. Monitor Competitors' Sales

Amazon is vitally important as a source of sales and marketing research for virtually all retailers. Monitor the sales and price performance of competing products (sold on Amazon), receive alerts when those products experience changes in pricing and sales. Learn what marketing drove those sales.

Also, imagine being able to share a chart that shows how your own product is outselling the competition.

It’s visually compelling, data driven proof of success. That's marketing you can't beat.
Thanks to: David Mercer of SME Pals.

51. Brand + Brand = Growth

Our best unusual marketing strategy is to team up and do giveaways with other brands to help each other grow our social channels and email lists.

It's unusual because many brands still have a "famine" mentality instead of a "rising tide lifts all boats" mentality when it comes to working with others.

Every time we've done a co-brand giveaway, we've gained a thousand followers or more on instagram, which is a better and less expensive then we have when working with influencers.
Thanks to: Ryan O'Connor of One Tribe Apparel.

52. Facebook Groups for Business

Create meaningful engagement with your brand by building and managing a Facebook group. With Facebook's recent update focusing on “meaningful interactions between friends and family," businesses are now seeing far less organic reach. Building and managing a Facebook group for your business is a great way to start fostering meaningful interactions, which are not only favored by Facebook's algorithms, but will also create lasting loyalty for your community and brand.
Thanks to: Sid Soil of DOCUdavit Solutions Inc.

53. Tattoos and Sewing Machines

I have a unique problem with my product; it has to be sewn into a dress shirt and very few people know how to sew. So, to get people to experience my product, I show up with my sewing machine. I taught myself how to sew, so I'll upgrade their shirt right there in front of them. It always seems to start other conversations to and from the meeting, too. When people see a 6'2" guy with tattoos and a sewing machine, it tends to stand out and I love that!
Thanks to: Rob Kessler of Million Dollar Collar.

54. Go National with Craigslist

If you're a digital service-based B2B, Craigslist is a valuable free tool to find new clients. But, why limit yourself to your hometown? Whether you're a remote contract worker or full-on digital nomad, if your service can be provided online (copywriting, SMM, programming, graphic design…) you should apply to jobs AND gigs in every city Craigslist covers.

Have a cover letter that you can copy, paste & modify to hit 25-50 job postings per day. Follow up & track all progress in a spreadsheet.
Thanks to: Kari DePhillips of The Content Factory.

55. Partnered Giveaways for Emails

A quality email list is the lifeblood of a small business. One method I found successful for Tatcha is cross-promotional giveaways.

By approaching another brand with a good-sized email list and related industry, we could give away a product prize package (not more than a $1,000). We would work with the partner to come up with a giveaway theme to tie our brands together and then, both promote the giveaway. At the end, we have reached each other's email lists and once gained 5,000+ new emails!
Thanks to: Ryder Meehan of Meehan Digital.

56. Morning Television

We looked for opportunities to get links from reputable news outlets. We prepared segments for morning television that are in our field of expertise, but not self-promoting. Many people think that getting on TV is about promoting your brand to the audience that's watching, but that's short-sighted in the world of branding. Expand out from the specific product or service that YOU provide; spin a story that will be engaging to the audience of the show. This offers credibility and social proof.
Thanks to: Ryan Eldridge of Nerds On Call.

57. Thinking Small

We’ve been connecting with smaller players in the field rather than exclusively promoting to top-tier outlets. Whether it’s reaching out to a modest sleep blog to collaborate or contributing to an article for a small bedding publication, we’ve figured out there’s a lot we can learn from the process. We’re able to test new ideas without betting the farm, and we also get great insight into our target markets, as they tend to be more closely connected to these less-intimidating outlets.
Thanks to: Harrison Doan of Saatva.

58. Go on a Listening Tour

Politicians do it all the time and it is great for business, too. Make a list of the movers & shakers, people you admire and prospects, ask a few smart open-ended questions- then sit back and take notice. They will be more than happy to tell you what is on their mind. If you listen to what they share with you, there will be plenty of opportunities to help them. It does not cost much; for the price of a few coffees and meals you will get an earful. Listening works!
Thanks to: Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls.

59. Brand Your Phone Number

There are companies that allow you to get a toll-free number in any amount of characters that you want. It's unlikely that someone would see your advertising and remember both your business name and business phone, so if they are the same, it will make both your phone number and brand more memorable. I do it for my business: 1-844-MIKE-WALSH. I put it on all my marketing, even on my car! It's a great way to market your business.
Thanks to: Mike Walsh of Mike Walsh Guitar Lessons.

60. Market Clients Who Said No

I realize that this sounds crazy, but I try and market with people who tell me no thank you. Often, I get people that thank me for my time, but end up not buying insurance through me.

I respond back thanking them for their time and the notification. I then ask them to consider posting their opinion on my services on social media. I do not ask for a positive review, just a review.

What I find is that many people that did not buy from me end up leaving glowing reviews of my service.
Thanks to: Scott Johnson of Whole Vs Term.

61. Seek Customer Feedback

Use market research as an excuse to start conversations with potential customers! An online survey or phone calls with your target market can yield great results. I recently used an online survey to test the idea for a new product. I began with general questions, became more specific, and finished by asking if the participant would like to try the new product. When people feel like they have contributed to the development of something, they are more likely to lend their support.
Thanks to: Fiona Adler of

62. Learn From Backlinks

We pull backlinks from competitors, see where they are featured online and adjust our marketing plan accordingly. For example, if you see your competitors featured in directories, this is definitely a strategy you want to pursue. The same goes for guest posts and roundups. With these, reach out to the author and explain what differentiates you from the market leader. If appropriate, you can offer the author an opportunity such as a guest post on your blog in exchange for including you.
Thanks to: Stefan Debois of Survey Anyplace.

63. Use Google Alerts for Curation

Know you should be curating content on social media, but hate searching for articles worth sharing? Use Google alerts to do the legwork for you. Just create an alert with topics you like to curate and enjoy the convenience of having relevant content delivered right to your inbox. Skim through the abstracts provided, then choose what to post. It’s simple and easy. This tip will save you hours of time, which can be used for other key marketing activities.
Thanks to: Nancy Gaines of Gain Advantages, Inc.

64. Unusual Marketing Strategy

Business marketing is done to reach more people for gaining more business. Reaching more people causes more audience, more visitors, more customers and more business at the end. Since almost every civilized person is present in at least one social media platform, any business message can reach to an infinite number of people within a short period only through social media. Delivering promotional messages by properly planned social media marketing can produce the most engagement.
Thanks to: Andrei Vasilescu of DontPayFull.

65. The Power of Social Proof

Customers look to their peers for help making purchasing decisions. They weigh different online reviews - often reading no more than ten before making a decision.

As part of your content marketing strategy, add customer testimonials and case studies. In-depth case studies explain exactly how your product or service helped others and how you solved your customer's problems.

Case studies will influence your potential customer's decision-making process by proving you're the best for the job.
Thanks to: Janet Kozak of Janet Kozak - Content Strategist.

66. Don’t Forget Your Customers

Use Facebook re-marketing to your existing customer list with Custom Audience. Less guesswork, better results. I mean, your audience clicked the “subscribe” button already, didn’t they? So, you offer value to them. Give them an even more exciting deal that they can’t resist. Know your customers and create really specific ads for the target audience to up-sell your new offerings. And, don't forget to set up a smart tracking system, for example, the Facebook pixel.
Thanks to: Sarunas Budrikas of Angle180.

67. Crawl Before You Walk

When you receive an inbound lead, the initial knee jerk reaction is to call and sell them right away. Someone signs up for your free trial and you call/email them with a laundry list of reasons why they need the paid version. Don't do that! Call them and offer your assistance, ask them questions about their business and what their goals are. You should be helping them before you're selling them.
Thanks to: Garrett Smith of RepCheckup.

68. Impromptu Content Creation

We were having trouble getting one of our clients to produce content for their blog. During our monthly meetings, they could talk extensively about any number of topics, but when it came to writing it out, something else always came up. So, we decided to bring a voice recorder to the client meetings and ask them questions to get the information we needed to write the blog. A couple days later, we had exactly what we needed!
Thanks to: Helen Kosterman of AmpliPhi.

69. Offer Gift Certificates

A retailer benefits by the use of Gift Certificates. Gift Certificates can be designed to achieve *ANY* objective, are low cost, and targetable. Most recipients see Gift Certificates as cash vs. Ho-hum discount coupons.
Thanks to: Jim Herst, CEO.

70. Follow Chosen Hashtags

Instagram tends to focus on people. Usually, I prefer to follow hashtags. Luckily, Instagram makes it easy to follow selected tags.

Select a hashtag from an existing post OR start from scratch.
-Open your Instagram from your phone.
-Select the search icon option at the bottom left.
-Tap the search field at the top.
-Type the hashtag you want.
-If given options, select preferred hashtag.
-Once selected, you’ll see the hashtag's top posts AND select the blue 'Follow' button.
Thanks to: Catherine Saykaly-Stevens of The Networking Web.

71. Get in the Background

Get your product upfront by being in the background of a web series, TV show, movie, or even photography project. This may seem like a stretch for most businesses, but there are agencies and set designers out there who may be looking for your unique product to fill the background for their scene. This is a great way to get product placement and build industry connections.
Thanks to: Ronna Moore of Fairy Homes and Gardens.

72. Manage Your Message

I use the media for marketing. I host 12 radio shows a month and am a guest on at least 2 to 3 others. I also appear in blogs, articles and other printed material 3 times a month. I do at least 2 TV shows a month, as well. All of that positions me as an expert and therefore, takes me out of the pack.
Thanks to: Gayle Carson of

Do you know an out-of-the-box marketing strategy that wasn’t included? Please share it below. And, as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!

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Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett (Shark Tank, The Voice, Survivor, The Apprentice) produced technology competition series, America's Greatest Makers, airing on TBS and Host of Microsoft's Office Small Business Academy show. Previously, Carol was the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country, and a contributor to CNBC, as well as a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and other stations. Carol's multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011-2015) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth