Marketing Strategies for Businesses That Aren’t Very... Marketable

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

How to market something un-sexy, unappealing, or even unspeakable. When the need arises, you want to be sure they remember you. Here's how.

How do you market something un-sexy, unappealing, or even unspeakable?

It's a legitimate challenge for businesses revolving around things people don’t like thinking about in the day-to-day.

But when the need arises, you want to be sure they remember you. Here's how to be sure they do: 

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Point Out Your Differences 

You may not want, or be able, to focus on what you actually offer, so focus on what sets you apart instead.

Funeral homes, for example, may be members of the Order of the Golden Rule, "an association of independently-owned funeral homes across North America and overseas who pledge to a strict code of ethical business and service standards conduct."

You certainly can't promote your natural-looking embalming makeup, but you can let potential customers know you adhere to a higher standard than some. It might be just the thing that sets you apart for a family in their worst hours.

Use the Proper Channels 

In industries where confidentiality is vital, such as health-related services or crisis hotlines, staying on top of where to share messaging for your target audience is imperative to reaching the people most in need of services.

According to the Knight Foundation, "the #1 preferred form of communication for young people is SMS", so don't send a lengthy email reaching out to teens being bullied. Find out where your messaging will have the greatest impact.

Be Aware of Best Practices for Marginalized Groups 

Businesses wishing to show support by being inclusive of marginalized audiences, like LGBT consumers, might have their hearts in the right place but it's easy to misstep without realizing it.

Take note of guidelines like keeping language ambiguous, while staying away from stereotypical gender norms in images and videos of settings like making dinner, driving, and so forth. “Be consistent and confident,” says the Human Rights Campaign, whose guide, “LGBT Marketing and Advertising: Best Practices” is an excellent resource for marketing dos and don'ts. 

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Make It Personal 

Testimonials are always great to have, but for organizations like American Addiction Centers, personal accounts may be the best way to get through to someone on the fence about making a change. In addition to promoting their facility, AAC smartly has a blog full of first-hand accounts by people who've been there and come out the other side.

Words like, "As you grow in sobriety you learn that the control you have mastered allows you to do anything your heart desires" mean much more coming from someone who has lived them. 

Focus on Results 

As with addiction, topics like STDs, erectile dysfunction, depression, etc. are uncomfortable at best. A standard marketing tenet is all the more important here: You're not selling a product, you're selling results. A marketing strategy promoting the positive outcome of taking a drug like Propecia is far more effective than focusing on the trauma of hair loss. 

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Use Appropriate Humor 

Keeping humor appropriate sometimes means not using it at all but when the situation warrants, humor is a great bonding tool. Two companies using humor well are insurance brands GEICO and State Farm.

When the need arises to use your insurance policy it's usually not very funny but that doesn't mean the commercials can't be. Sometimes the only thing you can do in a bad situation is laugh at it. If that makes you think of switching to GEICO, they've done their job.

And that's the goal with all marketing. To make your brand or business top of mind when consumers need you. These tactics will do just that for any industry, not just those difficult to market.  

Why? Because they come from a "human" perspective and that's something consumers insist upon. On social media especially, ads that crow about how great your brand is are easily tuned out. It's brands who engage consumers as people first who'll win now.

All marketing benefits from a thoughtful, sensitive approach, no matter the industry. 

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