This is more than semantics — new versus different — and it’s important.

Yes, new is always different.  Different doesn’t have to be new.  It just has to be different.  And different is a lot easier and cheaper than new.  Not easy and cheap; but certainly easier and cheaper.  And this is the point of my post.

Clients will sometimes say “Hey, we’re trying this new marketing idea with Hamilton.”  New to them, maybe.  New for their industry in their geographic area, maybe.  But generally, we try for different, not new.

New is Amazon selling books online, the iPad, Domino’s guaranteeing home pizza delivery in 30 minutes or it’s free, a cartoon bulldog and singing the phone number for an advertising attorney, banks in grocery stores, or T-Mobile’s “Life is for sharing” online advertising campaign.

New is hard.  New marketing ideas have never been tried.  They’re scary, expensive and most don’t work.

Different is being, well, different.  I reference a small part of how Audi is creating buzz (watch the video) for their A7.   For 14 days they created a hand-painted billboard (200 cans of spray paint!).  They attracted attention for 14 days, now have a ginormous billboard AND have created a good deal of buzz and awareness around the event because. . .it’s different.

The Lesson:  Make Your Marketing Different, Not New.  Here’s How. . .

Different marketing ideas surprise.  Different marketing ideas create attention.  And best of all, different marketing ideas are all around us.  Just look around at what’s working somewhere else.  In another industry.  In your industry in another market area.

This is part of the fun of being a marketing consultant and launching marketing campaigns in a variety of industries.  You’re always asking yourself “Where else might this work?”

What marketing campaigns stand out for you in other industries?  How about marketing campaigns aimed at you that get your attention?  Or marketing campaigns aimed at the same type of people or companies you sell to?

Then, simply, ask yourself three questions:

  1. What are they doing (talking about price, using humor, bundling or unbundling the product, using a different distribution channel)?”
  2. Why does the campaign work / why is it different?
  3. How can you apply those elements to what you’re doing?

Okay, how can you translate what Audi did to make some noise and generate buzz in your industry?  And keep in mind, this question isn’t asking how can you do the same thing Audi did.  It means how can you apply the same elements to what you sell or how you sell?  How can you “push the same buttons?”

Audi created an ad in front of many people.  In a way that is consistent with their brand (“we are creating a billboard with artists and craftsmen, not the conventional way billboards are created; the same way we create cars”).  It took a long time.  It was 3X as big as any billboard you’ve ever seen.

Again, forget about billboards.  How can you apply those elements to what you’re doing?

What comes up for me for:

A restaurant

A demonstration kitchen where patrons can see the food being prepared (yawn, not different).  Private parties or for one sitting a week, during which time your chef gives the patrons a cooking demonstration of the meal they will all be ordering.

Cooking demonstrations of the specials you’ll be serving this weekend by your chef via video podcast.

Set up portable cook tops in an unexpected place and cook hors d’ oeuvres for people similar to your customer (in the lobby during intermission of a play, on a street corner, inside a mall, in the parking lot of an athletic event, for the volunteers at a charity event).

A distribution company

Do a public “wrapping” of one of your trucks (with a complete vehicle graphic) at the next trade show.

Every Friday send the truck out on a random route.  Any customer who sees the truck and Tweets its location gets a delivery (by the truck after their tweet) of free products.

A professional (accounting, consulting)

Once or twice a week hold “open office hours” offering free advice to all comers.  Stream the conversations live on your site.

What about you?  Look around.  The next time you see something interesting ask yourself what are they doing, why is it working and how you can apply those elements to your business.