How to make your brand a conversation-starter with disruptive marketing


Disruptive marketing campaigns involve risk-taking, bold, even close-to-the-bone content. It’s about re-shaping existing ideas of how things should be done, whether that’s in copy or product design.

72% of marketers said that having a good content strategy was a major key to their success in 2018 (B2B Content Marketing, 2018). So how can you take your existing content and run with it?

There are two main types of disruptive marketing: New-Market Disruption and Low-End Disruption.

New-Market Disruption targets customers who have needs that are unserved by existing companies – a great example is the very first launch of Apple iTunes in 2001, which allowed users to purchase singles online for the very first time after physical singles stopped being released and file-sharing sites were being regulated.

Low-End Disruption is more for customers who don’t need all the features at the high end of an existing market, for example the introduction of laptops versus the traditional desktop computer.

But disruptive marketing doesn’t have to be as wide as a product idea. It can simply start with your social media posts – think about current trends or affairs and poke fun at them, turn them on their head and just play with what your marketing head usually tells you to do. Some of the best marketing campaigns have been founded on this way of thinking.


Ways to pursue disruptive marketing

‘Taboo’ content


In 2017, Poundland launched a £25 (yes – just £25!) budget campaign, ‘Elf Behaving Badly’, which parodies other Elf on a Shelf campaigns using lewd and controversial messaging. The campaign received 80 complaints and it was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). However, the banning created a ‘storm in a teacup’ and provoked interest and conversation.

The campaign also fits with the brand itself: a discount retailer appeals to the everyday consumer looking for the best discounts, and Poundland’s daring responses to the ASA ban was likely to amuse their target market for its colloquial and comedic approach.


Poke fun at existing trends


Like Poundland’s campaign, a way to approach disruptive marketing is to parody what other brands are doing. When a play-it-safe brand’s activity is picked apart by a disruptive brand, consumers in the market question which one they should be paying attention to. Changing people’s opinions is the definition of disruptive!


Take advantage of current affairs


Sometimes we all need a balance between humour and despair. When the news doesn’t look any brighter with each day, or there’s any joke to be pulled from a story – it’s the perfect time for a brand to jump in. A great and very recent example is from Flight Centre, who ingeniously bagged an ad spot on the perfect page in this newspaper.

Another example is Oreo’s finger being lightning quick on the pulse and taking advantage of the Super Bowl power cut in 2018.

Oreo’s ad is also a demonstration of moment marketing, which – if you like – ‘disrupts’ the line between online and offline events and uses moments in real time to shape marketing content. This makes the brand seem like it’s really ‘there’ with the consumer, and therefore more familiar and appealing.


Fun social media interaction


Even though we all know it’s one person behind a computer and not the CEO, the amount of time most of us spend on social media means that a brand’s interaction with its customers on social media can greatly impact overall attitudes towards it. A popular method is to reply to complaints with cheeky defensive responses, like a day-to-day exchange of banter with a mate. Here’s an example from Tesco:

The brand’s acknowledgement of people sneering at its mobile network gives Tesco a genuine and humble image, whilst the comedy brings more consumers over onto their side. Twitter users can’t resist a good comeback tweet.

So, there you have it – just a few ways to do disruptive marketing and make your brand a real conversation-starter. Remember, the ‘best practices’ are always going to be effective, but it’s always worth it to take risks and make your marketing a bit more exciting by pushing the envelope just that bit further.

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