This year, for the first time in history, digital ads will account for half of total global advertising expenditure. Focusing on online advertising used to be a disruptive practice; now it has become necessary for success.
The continual shift to digital has created an environment saturated with advertisements, and if you’ve spent any time online, you know that they run the gamut. Some are low effort, while others have been focus-tested and designed specifically for their platform. Some are well targeted, but many aren’t: large corporations often still fail to understand the importance of narrowing down their online audience, while many small companies lack the skills to do so.
What’s certain is that to stand out in this digital glut of brands trying to market themselves online, you don’t just need a unique product, you need a unique image and offer as well. That won’t be an issue for disruptive companies. If you’re attempting to disrupt an industry, your offer must inherently be unique. However, there are some less obvious things to consider if you’re trying to make it as a disruptive brand.
What Makes a Brand Disruptive?
The strategy of “disruption” was created to deal with crowded markets; that’s why it’s perfect for the ongoing digital marketing boom. A disruptive brand doesn’t try to compete with the mainstays on their home turf. Instead, it offers an entirely new business model, forcing their more established competitors and the market to change their tactics in response.
What Industries Can Be Disrupted?
Typically, when discussing disruptive brands, people bring up companies in industries like entertainment (Netflix, MoviePass), tech (Patreon, Ring), transportation services (Uber, Lyft) or luxury goods (TheRealReal, Tesla). Until quite recently, it was taken for granted that certain industries were immune to disruption and that consumers in these industries prioritized the security and reliability of an established brand over the novel offer of a newcomer. However, we’re now seeing brands like Robinhood and Stripe find success in finance, perhaps the industry where a known quantity has the greatest advantage. It’s clear that no industry is impervious to disruption.
First of All, Focus on Audience Targeting
Unless you’ve got millions of dollars to spend on flinging your ads on every available surface, you’re at a fundamental disadvantage when trying to compete with the behemoths in your industry. You can’t afford to show ads to people who aren’t likely to respond. Your strength will be in your ability to executed targeted campaigns. Before you spend any significant amount on advertising, do your homework and have a firm idea of the audience demographics you’re targeting and the best places to reach them.
Stay Closely in Touch with Consumers
There’s a whole industry built on analyzing the psychology of how customers identify with and form relationships with companies who market themselves as not just a distributor of products or services but an important part of their customers’ lives. If you can create that impression, then you don’t have to be a psychologist to appreciate that your customers will identify closely, and more personally, with your brand in a way they never would with the Rite-Aids and Banks of America of the world.
You could write a book on what it takes to be a disruptive brand (and indeed, people have), but hopefully these tips will get you started thinking about your business and the disruptive strategies you might find useful.