Successful Marketing Stunts Can Boost Your Campaigns

Generating attention and ultimately sales are what marketing campaigns are all about.

Any element that acts as a megaphone multiplying mentions of the company’s product or services adds to the campaign’s success.

Marketing stunts have proven to be the burst of energy to campaigns.

Have you thought of boosting your marketing campaign?

Well thought-out marketing stunts can generate lots of publicity for products and brands.

Particularly in today’s world, if not properly conceived and executed, a marketing stunt can backfire. In companies need to protect the trust built with customers when considering any marketing stunts. Here’s two examples of two stunt cases generated by well-known larger companies; one worked and the other seems to have broken trust plus caused brand confusion.

Pulling off a successful marketing stunt can turn into a positive viral wave such as in 2018 when IHOP teased that it would change its name to “IHOb” as part of a marketing campaign for its line of burgers; the result in the company sold four times more burgers after its campaign.

Recently, Volkswagen had a negative experience when it claimed it was changing its name in the U.S. to “Voltswagen” in a nod toward its heightened commitment to electric vehicles.  Here the stunt failed because at a time when America is grappling with a misinformation crisis, is it acceptable to mislead reporters and the public as a marketing strategy?

In Volkswagen’s case, it didn’t play well, especially since the company admitted guilt to having tricked us before*.  Volkswagen’s decision to lie about the nature of its announcement marks a breach of trust that could undermine the automaker’s reputation.  Plus, customers became confused by the brand and began asking if diesel cars were still going to be available.

When considering a marketing stunt, as a business owner or manager there are three things to consider.

  • Are you brave enough to risk all you have done in the past generating trust? 
  • Surrounding your stunt is your message so good it would be properly understood and trigger your audiences’ positive emotions?
  • Is your communication channel efficient enough to reach your target customers, is your timing right, and is your tone of voice reflecting your idea as it should?

If you decide to go ahead and try a marketing stunt to differentiate your brand is a sea of other brands and in the hope of boosting your business, please consider some of these important elements to ensure the outcome is successful as possible.

Know your audience – get to know your audience on a personal level.  Consider how your stunt impacts them. Are you being funny, provocative or thought-provoking? Whatever you are doing, make sure that your target audience is on board and understands your message.

Design a bold maneuver grounded in research – a marketing stunt, without research, is based on intuition and designed for shock value; but it may not resonate with your audience(s).  A bold maneuver, or marketing stunt grounded in research, is still gutsy and requires risk, is more likely to succeed in attracting the attention and affection of your ideal audience(s).

Trigger a core emotion, if possible – a marketing stunt should tap into a core emotion to make it successful and effective.  The key to a successful stunt is the emotion you are looking to target needs to coordinate with your brand or project.

Use the right content strategy -stunts can be effective with the right content strategy surrounding them. Start with a vision for the story you aim to tell, beyond the initial audience reached, and planning for what content needs to be deployed and captured. A stunt can have a much longer tail if photos of audience reactions, social media reactions, etc. are captured and distributed quickly to relevant media outlets.

Add value to your brand – make sure that whatever you are doing adds value to your brand.  Usually, it is a waste of money to pull a stunt for the sake of getting short-term attention.  Only do a stunt if it reinforces your brand.

Ensure the stunt does not cheapen your brand – driving sales is can be tough in our current market, and a well-designed marketing stunt can increase brand awareness and sales. However, be careful and make sure that your stunt stays within your branding and does not lessen or hurt your offerings.

Have a PR plan in place – having a PR plan in place is imperative.  You want to be talked about in the best possible light.  If you are able to get a marketing stunt into the mainstream news, it is good opportunity for your business and brand to expand.

Tie your stunt to a larger campaign – marketing stunts can be very effective, but only if they tie into a larger, long-term brand message or campaign.  A stunt often can be short lived, over as soon as it starts.  Bit, if you tie it into a long-term brand strategy, a stunt can spike your brand message and bring it to a higher level.

Get it to go viral – the goal of pulling off a marketing stunt is getting it to go viral.  However, there is no specific formula as to what makes something go viral.  Often, it is a random and organic phenomenon that happens.  In general, focus on understanding and addressing the problems and/or interests of your target audience(s).

Make it visually engaging – today, marketing stunts must be visual so as to engage the hearts and minds of the desired target audience.  Consider using video in executing the stunt and in recording your audience reactions.

Time it right – timing can play a critical role in the viral nature of a stunt. If you opt for an occasion-based day, the creative idea has to be compelling for the brand to own the occasion.  Otherwise, the originality and the authenticity of your stunt take precedence. Be unusual to grab attention, but make it relevant.

Consider using the #Challenge format – marketing stunts often take the form of #challenges.  The keys to creating a viral challenge are to know your audience, put it on the right platform, and partner with an influencer who is popular with both your audience and users on that platform. If you can pull off all three, your #challenge could sweep the nation and go viral very quickly.

Embody the brand’s central narrative – a marketing stunt is effective as long as they are an authentic extension of the brand.  When they truly exemplify the brand and its overarching narrative, the stunt becomes a creative storytelling device that generates media coverage and buzz.  Make your stunt simple and brief; if your stunt is too elaborate or takes too long to get from the brand essence it may not resonate with your audience(s).

Pay attention to detail and manage risk – attention to detail and risk management are, by far, the most important things to consider if you are planning to pull off a marketing stunt.  Analyze how and what you are about to very carefully.  Consider your audience as well as what going on in the world at large.  You want to make sure that you do not offend anyone.

Marketing stunts can be brand positive.  If you are willing to take the risk, plan and execute it so it has the best chance at success.

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* Volkswagen admitted in 2017 that millions of its diesel cars had polluted the earth above acceptable standards and paid more than $30 billion in penalties throughout the world.

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