Looking for a novel approach to marketing in 2014? Well, here are two interesting points of view that could set your marketing life on fire.

1. Pretend it’s your own money

If you had half a million dollars to invest this year, what would you do with it? If you take it to one of the banks they might give you 5% on a term deposit. You could invest in property and maybe get 12% if you’re smart and a bit lucky. But would that be enough to satisfy you? Would the greed make you want more or would you settle for what you got? 

The reason I ask is that when you drum it down to it’s purest form, marketing is a tool designed to generate a return on investment for businesses, most often by increasing sales of their products.

So what is a reasonable return to expect from your marketing dollars? Could you survive with a 5% increase in sales in 2014? What would happen if you got 20% or more?

Based on how quickly my wife burns through my MasterCard it’s easy, and apparently heaps of fun, to spend other people’s money. Us marketers do it all the time. We’re assigned a marketing budget by management, are told what sort of sales figures need to be achieved and we do our best to find a way of getting it done.

But what would happen if your marketing budget was made up of your own money? What would you do if you had to use your own hard earned cash to increase sales and make consumers buy more of whatever it is you’re selling?

In all likelihood this scenario would cause you to be more cautious with your spending, simply because your money comes with a much bigger anchor attached to it: the risk, and any potential loss associated with it, is much more personal. Yet at the same time, so is the potential reward. There’s a reason that there are so few billionaires out there: many people find it way too risky to make big financial gains when using their own money. And that leads me into my second point…

2. Don’t give a damn about what anyone else thinks

No one gets unanimous praise – ever! It doesn’t matter what you do there will always be the naysayers who’ll look down their noses at you. That’s true for everyone, from Steve Jobs to Nelson Mandela. But what’s also true is that you’re never going to get the kind of results that your marketing deserves unless you’re willing to challenge convention and risk offending people’s sensibilities.

This doesn’t mean that you have to go out of your way to offend people, but you do need to push the limits of what consumers see as acceptable. Some people are just not going to “get it” - whatever “it” is - and that’s perfectly fine. The people that get it will be the ones that absolutely fall in love with your products. They’ll be the early adopters telling all their friends and family about you and your products. The only way to get this sort of evangelist is to create a brand experience that is so inspiring to consumers that they engage with you on a new level, and this won’t happen if you’re worried about what other people think.

Unfortunately these evangelists are a double-edged sword. When your brand falls short on delivering to their high level of expectations you might just find yourself on the receiving end of a social media backlash. Unfortunately it’s easier to tweet to a hundred people about a terrible brand experience than it is to wait 20 minutes for someone in a call centre to answer a phone. Let’s face it, when was the last time someone called you to vehemently complain about your brand, product or service?

The truth is that in the hardware industry (and every other market) the boring slot is already filled. The product designed to appeal to the largest possible audience already exists, and displacing it is almost impossible simply because the very innocuousness of the market-leading product is its greatest asset. How can you possibly market yourself as more bland than the leading brand?

If you want to make any significant change to the results that you’re getting with your marketing, you have to look at changing the status quo. Alternative approaches are no longer a novelty – they are all you have left.