3300+ Words Worth of Non-Obvious Marketing Tactics That Work

Shhh! …

What follows is something you surely haven’t heard before! In order to truly grow your business you need to:

Step #1
Step #2
Step #3
Step #4
Step #5

Okay okay, just kidding. These – and similar ideas – have truly been beaten down to death on the web as it is. Really, how much Facebook marketing advice does the world need?

But I digress, so let’s get back on track!

… scroll down for 14 non-obvious marketing tactics that work …
What I have for you here is a set of marketing tactics that are hopefully not that obvious. (Although, it’s very likely that you’ve heard of some of them before.) But what’s more important is that not all of them come from me.

I’ve been kind of fascinated with this topic lately. So I’ve decided to do a bit more research and find some truly inspiring stuff, which I can then expand upon and share here. So, the ideas themselves are something I’ve stolen from the likes of Neil Patel, Forbes magazine, Jeremy Clarkson, John Jantsch, and a bunch of other people.

1. Be a true-blood guy (or gal)

mma

Everyone’s way too nice on the web these days if you ask me!

No, wait. This doesn’t sound right.

Anyway, what I mean is that there’s a general belief circulating around that we should always be nice to all people (no matter what they say about us) and that if we have a critical – yet not fact-based – opinion, we should keep it to ourselves.

Bollocks.

This works against the one thing we probably all want to achieve – getting our personal brand across.

For the life of me, I can’t remember who said it, but it was something to the tune of:

And the problem is that if you want to be all things to all people, you will probably end up attracting no one.

Jeremy_Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson (twitter) is a great example here. He’s built the popularity of his show – Top Gear – to a worldwide phenomenon. Do people watch it for the cars? Sure, some of them do. But most of them watch it because it’s incredibly entertaining, and cars just play a supporting role (Oscar worthy role, but still).

For example, here’s what he once said about Sarah Jessica Parker:

People think ‘oh she must be pretty, she’s on television’. She isn’t – she looks like a boiled horse.

Did he offend some people? Probably so. Did he make thousands of people around the world laugh? For sure.

So what I’m trying to convey is this: Be real. If you want to say something, say it. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.

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2. Create products and give them away for free

salesman

I should clarify. If you’re in the physical products business then it’s probably more difficult to give those away for free. Like, for example, giving away shoes or refrigerators. But in the digital market, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.

Let’s take a look at what happened with Quick Sprout a while ago. Previously, the site’s homepage was the blog (I think). Now, there’s an online SEO tool.

Neil – the founder of the site – said that the tool cost him $100,000, yet he decided to make it available for free.

Wow!

And yes, he did make it profitable eventually. Neil has a great funnel set up in the background. In short, everyone who visits the tool is also exposed to Neil’s Pro membership.

qs

Although Neil is clearly far ahead, I can mention a small success of my own too. It’s my Social Share Starter plugin. Since its release, it has generated hundreds of new subscribers and opened a couple of doors for me in terms of WordPress software projects.

“Free is the most powerful word in the English language.”

3. Break the pattern by publishing unusual content

pattern

At one point, virtually all websites hit a plateau and become predictable.

And don’t get me wrong, in a way, predictability is a good thing, especially if your content is predictably exceptional.

However, introducing something new every once in a while and breaking the pattern, so to speak, can work even better.

Here are some ideas:

  • If you’re known for publishing ultra-long content, publish an image post with a quote on it and no additional text whatsoever. See how it goes, how many shares it gets, and so on. Like this one:
you are right
  • If you’re mainly publishing text-only posts, try investing in an infographic.
  • If you’re publishing just your own perspective on things, try inviting someone who has a reputation in your niche and do an interview.
  • Need more ideas? Try either of these 52.

The idea behind this is to check if what you’re currently doing really is the best use of your publishing calendar, and if maybe your audience would actually resonate with something else even more.

This knowledge is something you can only get through experimentation. No case study on the web will give you reliable data whether you should or shouldn’t try Technique X in your content game.

4. Focus on just the essential info and invoke curiosity

curious

We often feel the urge to go into incredible detail when describing our services, products, or the thing we do for a living in general.

As it turns out, this doesn’t always work. Actually scratch that; it rarely works. The thing is that people don’t really need all that information when making a purchase decision.

For example, consider the following. Do you know what components your iPhone was built with? Do you know what’s the processor, who’s the RAM manufacturer, how many mAh does the battery have, and so on?

Most likely, unless you’re an iPhone freak, you have no clue, yet you still wanted to buy it when it came out.

Your clients only need to know the essentials – how your product is going to enrich their lives.
It’s a similar story with all kinds of products. Your clients only need to know the essentials – how your product is going to enrich their lives.

And it’s not just me talking here. Neil Patel reports this to be the case as well. At one point, he shared that changing the landing page on his private site from long-form, in-depth content, to just the essential short form has given him 318 percent more leads.

It’s kind of sad, but people really don’t care about us or our stories. The only thing they want to know is how your content can benefit them. (Or maybe that’s not sad at all?)

5. Dedicate just as much time to writing your headlines as you do to writing your content

headlines

Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit. But please bear with me.

It’s a known fact in the world of publishing that headlines account for around 80 percent of a given publication’s success.

What this means in plain English is that headlines are more important than content. And it makes sense when you look at it.

At the end of the day, if your headline isn’t a success, no one will even get to your actual content.

So here’s what I encourage you to do:

Write 25 different headlines for every piece of content you create.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

This is not my idea, and to tell you the truth I was also shocked when I first saw it.

The reasoning behind it is that writing the first 5 headlines is ultra-easy. Writing the next 10 gets difficult, but you can still get through it. However, writing that final 10 will get you bleed through your fingertips.

It’s those final 10 headlines that can give you some gems – things that are not obvious at all. Things that you’d have never come up with if you hadn’t used all the common ideas on the first 15 headlines.

The secret is that people tend to resonate with things that break certain patterns.

6. Steal ideas from Reddit

reddit

Reddit isn’t called the front page of the internet for no reason. It’s also the best way to waste a Saturday afternoon, but that’s another story.

Reddit is an extraordinary source of content ideas that are interesting to people at this very moment. Now, I don’t encourage you to steal content in any shape or form. But I do encourage you to steal ideas. So if something works on Reddit, maybe it can work in some other form on your site as well.

Here’s how you can implement this:

  1. Look for things that are fast growing in popularity.
  2. Try identifying something about them that you would be able to do or present better.
  3. Release your own version.

I know that such a description is a bit generic, but I leave it up to you to find exact applications.

I will give you an example though. Here’s a popular entry from Reddit’s DIY section: http://imgur.com/a/fD4e4. It’s a guitar-shaped cat playground. The idea is great. The execution is okay-ish. But for someone in the carpentry business, building something that’s of better quality shouldn’t be a problem.

7. Invest in relationships with potential clients by doing free work

free hugs

First off, I like getting paid for what I do just as much as the next guy. That being said, it’s kind of impossible to make every hour of your work billable, especially if you’re just starting out.

The big problem here is trust, or lack thereof.

In other words, people don’t really trust your expertise enough to pay you for your services if you’re new to the market. To overcome this, you can do either of two things:

(a) Offer your services really cheap – so your clients don’t have to trust you all that much because the investment is small.
Not recommended.
(b) Offer your services for free.
Recommended.

The trick here is that if you start by offering your services cheaply, you will find it very hard to increase your rates later on – the clients will resent it.

On the other hand, if you start offering your services for free, people will understand that it’s not a permanent thing, and that you are likely to ask for money pretty soon.

However, what’s different now is that you’ve already built trust with them and proven that you can deliver results. This entitles you to ask for higher rates.

Speaking from my personal experience, offering free advice is what got me most of my initial freelance writing gigs. I talked about it in one of my guest posts at Be a Freelance Blogger.

8. Be a show off

ferrari

Note. Showing off isn’t in all people’s nature. And there’s nothing worse than a pretender who wants to show off but doesn’t really know how or why, so they just end up looking cheesy. So in short, if you don’t feel confident showing off, please skip this point.

Showing off is a very interesting marketing and promotion method. On one hand, it’s very easy to appear like a jack ass who’s just bragging about a new watch or some other gizmo. But on the other hand, it can reinforce your message and present a specific persona that resonates with your audience’s wants.

This can work especially well if you’re in the coaching business, or in consulting. The idea is to make people think, even subconsciously, “Hey, this guy has what I want to have. Maybe if I listen to what he has to say, I’ll get there too!”

Whether it’s a valid thought or not is another thing.

9. Reuse your existing results

recycle

During the course of your online career, you will naturally have better and worse days, better and worse content, that’s only natural.

But there’s always a small set of posts or articles that did exceptionally well and gave you big recognition. Maybe they even continue bringing consistent traffic through Google today.

So first of all, by all means, go out and find those articles. And then reuse them as a marketing tool.

A man much wiser than me once said that it’s easier to improve something that already works, than it is to build up something that doesn’t.

I couldn’t agree more!

Here’s what you can do exactly to reuse some of your best content:

Step #0

Well, you need to identify this content first. So go to your Google Analytics or Clicky (my preferred tool) and see which posts are the most visited ones on your site. Also, check for your most commented posts (you can sort posts in WordPress by the number of comments) and the ones that have brought in the most social media shares (you can do this via the Social Metrics plugin).
Make sure that there’s a specific call to action under each of these posts/pages. Either invite people to join your newsletter, download your thing, or buy your product (whatever it is you do).
Step #1

Step #2

Erase all distractions from the page. I encourage you to focus on convincing the visitor to do one specific thing. For example, if that thing is newsletter subscription then try making the subscription form the only possible route out of the page. Get rid of sidebars, and if it’s possible, get rid of the top menu as well.
Build additional internal links from other posts on your site to those that bring the most results. This way, you should be able to improve those results even more. After all, your popular stuff is popular for a reason, so if you manage to get more eyeballs on it, people are likely to start sharing and resonating with it more than with your average post.
Step #3

10. Guest post with a purpose

writing

Guest blogging is a very popular promotion method these days, I give you that. However, not many people use it as an actual element of their business.

Here’s what I mean. Every day, I see tens of guest posts where people link to their generic websites (from the bio boxes) or social media profiles. I’m sure this gets them some traffic and recognition. But at the same time, they’re leaving a lot on the table.

(I need to be honest with you and admit that I was just as guilty of doing this as anyone else.)

To give you a good example of things done right, consider this post by Milica Pantic. She explains how she makes money from guest posts directly.

In short, it’s all about these four main elements (in that order):

mitz
  • Picking what you want to promote with your guest post.
  • Deciding what you can write about to pre-qualify the people that are your target group.
  • Figuring out how you can point them to what you want to promote.
  • Finding the best place where to publish your post to reach the exact target group you’re looking for.

The main reason why guest posts are great for this sort of promotion is because you get to position yourself in front of any audience you wish. You just need to find the right website. There aren’t many advertising methods that give you this opportunity.

11. Try local offline marketing

mainstreet

Everybody’s hot about promoting their businesses on the web these days, and rightfully so. However, we shouldn’t forget about all the offline possibilities that are still there and can work exceptionally well.

What’s even better, oftentimes, they are really cheap to execute too. Literally, all you need is some creativity and a bit of time on Saturday.

Here are some of the cleverer things I heard people doing:

Leaving stickers in random places like bars, cafes, public spaces, basically anywhere where other people hang out.
Using chalk to advertise on sidewalks.
Donating branded bookmarks to libraries.
Leaving branded pens at places like banks, post offices, or any other place where people sign their names on pieces of paper. The idea is that the staff won’t notice everyone’s using the wrong pen…
Using sticky notes wherever it makes sense around town.
Printing out beer coasters and leaving them in your local bar.
Leaving your business cards everywhere. Trying places like public bulletin boards, restaurants (along with your tip), inside books at the library, and of course, when you meet a new person.

12. Find, and get on board with existing giveaways

giveaway

The web is chock full of various giveaways these days. And this is especially valid for all kinds of digital products. Be it plugins, WordPress themes, short e-courses or memberships, e-books, icon packs, you name it. People are ready to give them away left and right.

find giveaways that are related to your niche, then add one of your products to the giveaway
What you can do to capitalize on this trend is find giveaways that are in some way related to your niche and website. The best case scenario is finding something that’s directly in your niche, but if that’s not possible, then go one step up.

For example, if you’re in dog training, there might not be a specific dog training giveaway going on, but there probably are some giveaways or even contests focusing on dog owners in general. Maybe someone’s giving away leashes, treats, or some other dog-related stuff.

There’s nothing holding you back from picking one product from your own offer, and adding it to the giveaway. That way, you’re piggybacking off the giveaway’s popularity by itself. It requires almost no marketing on your part whatsoever.

Of course, the difficult part is contacting the giveaway’s managers and convincing them to include your stuff.

13. Supervise everything

supervise

Granted, this is a very counterintuitive piece of advice.

In today’s world, countless experts preach the idea of outsourcing and finding other people to do some of your tasks for you. (By the way, I’m generally preaching it too.)

But the thing we need to keep in mind is that we shouldn’t ever let anyone take over a whole department of our business for us.

For instance, let’s use content as an example. When you first started out, you likely created all of the content yourself. But as you grow, you might get tempted to invite other people on board – to hire help. This is all great and it’s actually the direction you should aim for. However, you should still be the person who’s making the top-level decisions.
be the person who’s making the top-level decisions

The thing is that as you build up your site’s presence, people come and identify with your content. They come to read “you” primarily.

This is a relationship very easy to lose if you disconnect yourself from the publishing process later on. Whoever you hire, will always have their own ideas and ways of handling things. And while you do want to get the most out of their expertise and skill, you need to be very careful not to lose that unique touch that only you can provide.

And this goes for all kinds of tasks you’re doing in your business.

So all of my rambling boils down to this:

Be the decision maker. Don’t assume that others will be better at it than you.

14. Be persistent

persistent

Let’s end this list with the simplest advice possible, yet at the same time, something that makes all the difference in our marketing efforts, and basically in anything we do in life.

Being persistent is what makes you successful.

Not talent.

Not hard work.
(If hard work paid off, slaves would be the richest people on the planet.)

Not connections.

It’s persistence.

You maybe know this story, but let me tell you about Michael Jordan.

Jordan was not accepted on his high school basketball team. This may not sound like a big deal, but what it actually means is that he was not a talented kid. I mean, clearly, no trainer in the world would say no to a talented young player who wants to be on their team.

Yet despite not being talented he became the biggest star in basketball history.

He did it because he was persistent.

Michael Jordan at Boston Garden

He even summarized this in one of his famous quotes:

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

Let me end this post with this. If you don’t believe me, believe Michael Jordan.

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Photo credits: superwebdeveloper / CC BY 2.0, Steve Sutherland / CC BY 2.0, wwarby / CC BY 2.0, ankakay / CC BY 2.0, stevenritzer / CC BY 2.0, mhauri / CC BY 2.0, gfreeman23 / CC BY 2.0, lydiashiningbrightly / CC BY 2.0, alisonchristine / CC BY 2.0, Hedgehog Fibres / CC BY 2.0, mario-mancuso / CC BY 2.0, jdhancock / CC BY 2.0, http://www.freevintageposters.com/2013/01/the-adam-forepaugh-sells-brothers_15.html