By Published On: May 31, 2013

We live in an age when marketing messages are ubiquitous. They’re on gas pumps, Facebook pages and woven into our clothes. As a result, marketers must work harder than ever to stand out. One approach is to go for the outrageous. By outrageous, we mean anything that is highly unusual or unconventional, extravagant or remarkable.

Think Liberace, the late classical pianist and showman, now in the news with HBO’s biopic debut of “Behind the Candelabra” movie starring Michael Douglas, Matt Damon and Rob Lowe. Liberace was over-the-top outlandish with giant rings, fancy clothes and campy style. He made a fortune being outrageous.

To get your creative juices cooking, here are some outrageous and successful marketing ideas gleaned from around the Web that you can apply – with your own twist, of course – to the audiences you want to reach.

Create an irresistible contest
In 2010, Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry held a contest, offering the winner a chance to live for a month at the museum in a hotel-like room. The winner posted a flood of entries on social media sites and earned $10,000. The museum drew more than 1,500 contestants and generated loads of local and national news coverage and traffic to its website and Facebook page.

Forget the “elevator speech”
Drop the standard pitch. Instead of giving the lowdown on your company when the opportunity arises, focus on what you provide. For example, “I help my clients make the most effective use of their ad dollars.” In short, arouse the prospects’ curiosity so they start asking questions.

Sis Boom Bah! Rah! Rah! Rah!
Advocate for others by nominating a customer or someone in your company for an award or special recognition. Although preparing an application takes time, your investment demonstrates initiative and appreciation in addition to some well-deserved recognition. Many publications accept brief items about promotions and awards. Include a head shot if you can. That’s why deans’ lists and scholarship winners always make news.

Turn into a tenacious Terrier
Terriers are high-activity canines that demand a lot and give a lot. Once you know a prospect fits your niche, why send just one letter? Repeated direct mail advertisements to the right customers associate you with a product or service they need, maybe not next week but perhaps within a year. Make sure they know who to call.

Offer the unexpected
Across the pond, Britain’sTesco, which started as a grocery in 1919, expanded to include apparel in the 2000s, according to Wikipedia. By repositioning itself, Tesco went from being seen as a “sell ’em cheap” retailer to a broader appeal that included Tesco Value to Tesco Finest products, says Wikipedia. The chain grew from 500 stores to 2,500 stores in 15 years, according to a British newspaper.

Seize the moment
Tie your company’s expertise to news or events by contributing advice or commentary. Issue a news release or media advisory offering your expert. Examples: In the aftermath of a Des Moines restaurant fire, a Red Bull distributor offered free Red Bull to cleanup crews generating goodwill and positive news coverage. Personal fitness coaches or chiropractors can suggest stretching exercises before local 5K runs or charity walks.

Create a unique association
Form a group or association of like-minded potential customers to market your business. Try a Savvy Consumer Association that gathers tips, such as best bargain of the day, anecdotes on how to save money or find the best deals and prizes via social media to other members. This could be as simple as a Facebook page. Your experts can offer suggestions too.

Trade on the unexpected
A guerrilla marketing tactic, “promotional graffiti,” offers unexpected imagery in unexpected places. Though tough to execute and sometimes controversial, this approach catches potential consumers by surprise and can generate a buzz. It can be especially useful to counter myths about your product or services. Audi, the high-end car maker, painted streets in selected cities with messages that read, “Di*sel is no longer a dirty word.” Check out Audi’s campaign:

Red Bull Pit Stop
Red Bull, known for staging extreme events, set up a NASCAR-style pit stop in Times Square. Media-saturated New Yorkers responded and Red Bull scored a huge success. Check out the promo here:

About the Author: cat-tonic

Born of curiosity and enthusiasm, we’re a scrappy group of smart, passionate marketers who work hard and play hard. We show up every day and fight for our clients who are making the world a better place. We listen with curiosity, explore deeply, ask hard questions, and sometimes put forth ideas that might make you squirm. Because we believe the status quo is good for growing mold but not much else. The way we see it, change is the way forward and the magic happens when curiosity, math, science, instinct, and talent intersect.
Beam Me Up Scotty
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