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Have you thought of spicing up your marketing campaign?
Pulling off a successful marketing stunt can turn into a viral wave or can ruin your brand image for good. Are you brave enough to risk it all: is your message that good so it would be properly understood and would trigger your audience 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?
Read along and see what the respected industry influencers have got to say about their experience with successfully pulling off marketing stunts.
(The Expert Panel was initially published at Forbes.)
Marketing stunts can generate a lot of publicity for brands. However, if not properly conceived and executed, a marketing stunt can have the unintended consequence of harming a brand’s reputation, potentially wiping out trust built with customers through previous outreach and efforts.
If you are thinking about trying a marketing stunt, you need to make certain that you can pull the event off without a hitch and figure out ways to limit the damage if it isn’t well-received. Here, 14 experts from Forbes Agency Council weigh in on the most critical elements involved in planning a marketing stunt and explain why they are so crucial to its successful execution.
Table of Contents
Stunts are great for brands looking to differentiate themselves in a sea of other brands. The key is to know your audience in an intimate and personal way. How will the stunt impact them? Are you being funny, provocative or thought-provoking? Whatever you are doing, making sure that the audience is on board and understands the message is key. Also, not going to jail while pulling a stunt is a good idea. – Terry Tateossian, Socialfix Media
2. Have The Right Content Strategy
Stunts can be effective with the right content strategy surrounding them. It begins with having a vision for the story you aim to tell, beyond the initial consumers reached, and planning for what content needs to be captured. A stunt can have a much longer tail if photos of consumer reactions, social media reactions, etc. are captured and distributed quickly to relevant media outlets. – Elliott Phear, Night After Night
3. Make Sure It Adds Value To The Brand
Make sure that whatever you are doing adds value to your brand. Pulling a stunt for the sake of getting short-term attention is often a waste of time and money. Stunts never lead to an increase in sales, in my experience. Unless a stunt reinforces who you are as a brand, don’t do it. – Gjoko Muratovski, The Myron E. Ullman, Jr. School of Design
4. Tap Into A Core Emotion
Marketing stunts need to tap into a core emotion to be successful and effective. And the key to a successful stunt is this: The emotion you are looking to target needs to coordinate with your brand or project. Releasing a scary movie? Do a scary hidden-camera stunt. Got an adrenaline-fueled brand? Do a base jump from the edge of space. And whatever you do, film it and promote it far and wide. – Bernard May, National Positions
5. Ensure That It Doesn’t Cheapen Your Brand
Driving sales is 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 doesn’t cheapen or hurt your products. Moving outside the box using a whimsical video of something current from pop culture that brings your audiences joy and laughter will be a success! – Sherri Nourse, Ambition Media
6. Have A PR Plan In Place
Having a PR plan in place is imperative. After all, there’s only one thing worse than being talked about, and that’s not being talked about. If you are able to get a marketing stunt into the mainstream news, it’s incredibly good news for your business. You then have a captive audience that could be wanting your product or service, expanding your reach nationally and even internationally. – Adrian Falk, Believe Advertising & PR
7. Tie It Into 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 a flash in the pan, over as soon as it starts. So, if tied into a long-term brand strategy, a stunt can spike that message and bring it to a higher level. – Stefan Pollack, The Pollack Group
8. Get It To Go Viral
The key to pulling off a marketing stunt is getting it to go viral. In truth, there is no formula as to what makes something go viral. It’s often a random and organic phenomenon that happens. In general, I would focus on understanding the problems of your target audience and their interests. – Jonas Muthoni, Deviate Agency
9. Make It Visually Engaging
Marketing stunts must be visual so as to engage the hearts and minds of the desired target audience. Think of how P.T. Barnum organized parades when the circus came to town. There’s nothing more visual than elephants, costumed characters, dancers and loud music marching down Main Street in your hometown. This engages the public and the media alike. It’s memorable and fun. – Nancy Marshall, Marshall Communications
10. Time It Right
Timing can play a critical role in the viral nature of a stunt. If the creative idea is that compelling, a brand can own an occasion, such as Earth Day or National Pizza Day. However, you run the risk of being outplayed on these occasions. If you opt out of an occasion-based day, then the originality and the authenticity of the stunt take precedence. Be outlandish, but make it relevant. – Dean Trevelino, Trevelino/Keller
11. Leverage The #Challenge Format
Marketing stunts work all the time, only these days, they 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. – Jason Hall, FiveChannels Marketing
12. Embody The Brand’s Overarching Narrative
Marketing stunts are effective as long as they are an authentic extension of the brand. When they truly embody the brand and its overarching narrative, they can become creative storytelling devices that generate media coverage and buzz. But stunts that are too elaborate or require you to take a long walk to get from the brand essence to the idea can come across as tacky, desperate and forced. – April White, Trust Relations
13. 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 in 2020 (and beyond). Analyze what you’re about to do very carefully. You want to make sure that you don’t offend anyone, and you also need to know exactly how you are going to do it before you announce it. If it fails to work out, the results are going to be the opposite. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
14. Design A Bold Maneuver Grounded In Research
There’s a difference between a marketing stunt and a bold maneuver designed expressly to attract the attention and affection of your ideal audiences. The former is based on intuition and designed for shock value, but it may not resonate with your customers. The latter is still gutsy and requires risk, but it is grounded in research, so it will succeed where mere stunts fall short. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative