We all love an underdog story. From Cool Runnings to Kung Fu Panda – the fact is that people are suckers for stories that end with the underrated, under-appreciated character coming out on top. But in the world of marketing strategies, does the same story ring true?

We’ve selected five of the industry’s most underrated marketing strategies to dive into. Have a read and decide for yourself if any of the methods have what it takes to break into the mainstream.

And if you decide to work one into your plan, make sure you give Turtl some credit (but only if the strategy pays off … 😜)

1. Sludge Marketing: underrated or over-hated?

To the uninitiated, sludge marketing probably doesn’t sound too appealing.

If you’ve never heard of sludge, think of it as the opposite of nudge marketing. And if you’ve never heard of that either, you’re in luck because there’s a whole Turtl blog about it here!

Basically, ‘sludge’ is a behavioral economics term for anything that causes friction or is performed with negative intentions. Where nudge psychology promotes the outcomes you want, sludge works by demoting the outcomes you don’t want.

Think about how easy it is to opt-in for some services – often, you can subscribe with a single click of a CTA. But, when it comes to opting out, suddenly, there’s a flurry of forms to fill out, phone calls to make, and hours on hold. This is sludge in practice.

As the name suggests, sludge isn’t pretty, but it can effectively secure a customer base. Businesses operating a subscription-based service will most likely have considered sludge marketing as their underrated marketing strategy, as it can really work.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, subscription service levels exploded. At the start of 2020, the average US consumer was signed up for less than 2 retail subscriptions. By the end of 2021, this number was up to 5. Meaning we’re all likely to have experienced a bit of sludge recently.

And with an ‘unsubscribe apocalypse’ perhaps already upon us (Netflix lost a million subscribers between April and July this year), there is certainly a case to be made for doing everything possible to dissuade users from abandoning your service.

But ultimately, we’d encourage you to be honest in your sludge applications. To strike a balance between business and consumer interests. As the father of nudge theory Richard Thaller said, “Less sludge will make the world a better place.”

2. Channel Marketing: connect with the best 

In a nutshell, channel marketing means using another business to connect your product or service with your customers. The technique relies on mutually beneficial relationships between you and those marketing on your behalf.

The most standard channel incentives are partial sales commissions or favorable purchasing terms that benefit the channel’s business models.

It’s a popular option for those looking to expand quickly, with minimal outlay. Having a well-chosen few channels to market through can help you reach customers that would otherwise be hard to access. And by buying into somebody else’s already existing contact lists or user base, you’re saving a lot of time and effort that more traditional methods require to establish brand recognition.

Manufacturers have partnered with retailers since the dawn of time (or at least the industrial revolution). It’s the basis of every industry’s supply chain. Amazon, one of the biggest logos in the world, is probably the ultimate example of channel marketing done right. Ultimately, they’re the world’s largest distribution company, acting as the intermediary between manufacturers and customers.

A more 2022 take on this relationship can be seen in the celebrity endorsement, paid promotion, or “exclusive” discount codes. Companies are piggybacking on the established reach of influential faces to get their product out there.

And while we’ve focused on manufacturer-retailer relationships, channel marketing works for other industries, including tech.

Done well, channel marketing can change the trajectory of any business. But it’s imperative to choose your channels wisely and to negotiate relationships that benefit all parties – including the customer.

And there are other potential pitfalls that channel marketers need to avoid. Relying on others to market for you essentially means surrendering control of your brand identity. Channel marketers must also be ready to wave goodbye to analytics. With so many disparate marketing channels, a central analytics system is near impossible to achieve.

3. Attraction Marketing: the ‘pick me’ strategy

Perhaps the least revolutionary feature on this list of underrated marketing strategies, Attraction Marketing is ultimately a form of inbound marketing. It’s advertising done right. Showcasing your worth through various collateral pieces to persuade potential customers to take the plunge with you.

Think of a politician on the campaign trail trying to win popularity. Dangling the carrot, convincing would-be voters to choose them and not their opposition by promising value and genuine change.

In the bricks-and-mortar world of goods and services, this may involve hosting workshops and having good customer service. In the digital world, this can be achieved through thought leadership publications like a frequently updated blog or high-value webinars.

The objective is to have your reputation precede you. Put your name out there, and have it associated with rival beating quality, value, or a similar USP. Attraction marketers aim to ensure that when decision time comes, your brand is front of mind for prospective customers.

One of the most important steps you can take toward a successful attraction marketing campaign is to choose the proper channels to get your brand name out there.

Half of the battle to get your name remembered is making sure it’s seen; this is how you get your messaging absorbed. If your attraction marketing campaign is being conducted using a content marketing strategy, then Turtl is an excellent choice. Turtl’s psychology-based content format is proven to improve information retention, meaning your brand identity is more likely to be remembered.

And since attraction marketing is basically a popularity contest, bear in mind that when consumers were shown branded material in the Turtl format, the brand was perceived as 5x more friendly compared to the same material being shared in alternative formats.

4. Offline Marketing: no school like the old school, right?

Marketers, this is how our forebears did things. Back when tweeting was just for birds, the only web experts were spiders, and trolls still lived under bridges.

Of course, we’re joking. Offline marketing still has a hugely important role to play in contemporary marketing strategies, partly at least because the term covers such a wide range of practices. Everything from TV ads to branded freebies can form part of an offline marketing strategy.

Advertising history is full of successful offline marketing strategy examples, proven by the fact that there were plenty of globally recognizable brands before the dawn of digital. From the Got Milk TV ads, to any number of sports kits on which the sponsor’s logo is, if anything, more iconic than the kit design.

And the method still sees a lot of popularity today. 2020 saw offline marketing spend in the US grow by 7.6% to reach an impressive $196 billion. This investment was justified as offline methods, such as print, radio, and TV ads, are still highly effective marketing tools. They can be highly targeted, and achieve massive outreach. Combine this with the notion that offline messaging is often viewed as more authentic, and these can be powerful tools in a marketer’s arsenal.

That said, companies that go exclusively offline do so at their own risk. Performance analytics can be hard to come by, and in 2022’s fast-changing landscape, sacrificing the ability to update messaging at the drop of a hat can be risky.

A strategy that isn’t anchored in numbers is a strategy that’s doomed to fail (or at least doomed to be impossible to measure and, therefore, to qualify as a success). This is an area where digital platforms can provide more value. Features such as Turtl’s integrated analytics dashboard provide real-time insights into content performance, which can drive actions to better secure your marketing strategy’s success.

5. Partner Marketing: all good things are better together

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – it’s an old adage, but it rings true.

Partner marketing is one of the more underrated marketing strategies on our list of underdogs. But it can be a real game changer.

Partnerships work when two brands with similar (but not overlapping) audiences collaborate for mutual benefit. So, as is the case when choosing non-business partners, picking the right partner really counts.

Pick a partner whose audience is too similar to yours, and you’ll fail to reach enough new potential customers. Pick a partner whose audience is too far removed, and you get the exact same result. Partner marketing is a balancing act.

The other two most important elements of a successful marketing partnership are alignment on goals and clear communication. Partnerships rely on businesses working together, so pulling in the same direction is paramount. That’s not to say that your targets should be identical; different businesses should have different objectives.

Additionally, marketing partnerships often see an established company partner up with emerging ones – and the emerging company’s goals will most likely be more growth-focused than the larger company’s.

When partners nail these factors, they can successfully grow together. Helping each other out and providing customers with better experiences in the process. Everyone’s a winner!

The best partnerships all too often come to an end, however. Even those that seemed too strong to fail. Brangelina, Jay-Z and Kanye, Simon and Garfunkel. All wildly successful together, and painful to see apart.

And for occasions such as this, real-time online-hosted capabilities like Turtl’s truly shine. Custom brand themes can easily be updated by a central design or marketing team. This allows existing communications to be rapidly updated to reflect any change in circumstance or messaging instantly.

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