In the new age of digital content marketing, obvious, information-led missives will not always harvest the figures you want, nor find the customers, clients and influencers that you need. The lessons that you’ve learned about SEO, traditional PR, social and content writing simply might not work because others are following the same principles. So let’s go off grid and throw the rules out of the Windows (or OS X).

1) Community events

As a brand, how much do you really do to support your local community? Networking and influencer events are one thing, but arranging and creating a showstopper can really get people’s attention. Marketers do it themselves: for example, BGL Group in Peterborough is a figurehead in organising both international and national events - as well as sponsoring a variety of charities, groups and events locally, nationally and abroad.

2) Be old school

When was the last time you spoke to people face-to-face? Or tried to place an article by actually calling the relevant newsdesk? There comes a saturation point where digital information blurs into one on a busy day, and your actual phone-call might grab attention.

3) New social

Who’s your audience and which social channels are they using? Not everyone cares as much about Twitter and Facebook as you do; in fact the real growers in the social media market are Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram, according to Sign yourself up and then use services where you’ve built a loyal following, to tell people about them – and don’t forget your call to action.

4) Old social with new tricks

The average Twitter user has 208 followers according to So your tweets have got to stand out; emojis and emoticons, pictures, call-to-actions, stories across several tweets, intelligent use of hashtags and other fresh ideas.

5) Idea vs product

Sometimes it’s difficult to dissociate the product and obvious, linear messages associated with it. Step back from the product one moment and brainstorm the themes behind it, in general terms, such as Safety. Love. Health. Streamlining your life. Then brainstorm on those themes only, and see what comes up – you might find a sideways slant to your project appears when you’re not actually thinking about it.

6) Be ‘unprofessional’

Craig Mawdsley uses the example of Martin Scorsese in his writing in Marketing Magazine to suggest that variation and improvisation can work, simply because others aren’t doing it. After you’ve done the obvious in looking for keywords and routes to send people to your site, perhaps its time to take a sideways glance and do what your competitors aren’t doing; a quirk or oddity in the copy, a different search or picture, may bear fruit.

7) Be caring

The best marketing, or indeed content of any kind, pulls at the heart strings. Look at Christmas and the John Lewis/Sainsburys adverts for big bangs, but there are also thousands of other successful brands that make the viewer or reader care about content and the messages behind it. Here’s how to make emotive content, courtesy of the Guardian.

8) Use Gifs

Ever looked at those walls of small animations and wondered how to create them? Many Buzzfeed pieces and Twitter accounts such as Fascinating Videos (811k followers) are built upon a short, sharp burst of humour, surprise or enjoyment. Apps such as Gif Brewery convert giant files into manageable little engaging packets in seconds, perfect for emails, tweets and Facebook statuses.

9) Augmented Reality

If you want content that leaps out, this is a literal interpretation, but it’s still an embryonic discipline with few brands willing to jump in feet-first. And yet there are great examples of engaging, interesting, content that demands attention – here’s one example of how a simple calendar has been turned into a cartoon by We are Royale.

10) Thinking outside the box…

..and by box, we mean the TV screen, monitor, or smartphone. Ambient advertising such as some of these examples from Inc.Com grabs the man on the street who isn’t reliant on the digital world. If the Smart Fortwo example doesn’t make you smile, then we’re wasting our time here.


By Kevin Hughes, content manager at Zazzle Media. 

Do you have any tips for 'thinking outside the box' with your marketing efforts? Share them below! 

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