“New Orleans marketing ideas?” you groan. “Please. Don’t slap a New Orleans label on a generic marketing post.”
BUT WAIT. Before you click away to a cat playing the piano, remember that New Orleans does things differently. There are a few marketing options available here that aren’t available anywhere else. And if you're trying to get noticed here, it would help to know about a few of the good ones.
We’re talking about ideas that work within our culture, that touch on the things we prize most down here. Community, humor — and delicious food and cocktails, of course.
Essentially, it all comes back to who you’re trying to reach, how you want to make them feel, and what action you’d like them to take. So, basically, don’t forget the founding principles of inbound marketing.
Tongue firmly in cheek? Here we go.
1. White-label a food item.Two words: Hand pies. OK, more than two words: Pralines, coffee, Zapp’s chips...
White-labeling is an easy way to offer your audience something they want, while linking your brand to their enjoyment. New Orleans is all about food — so build up goodwill by feeding your fans!
2. Sponsor a festival.
Here’s another good way to associate your brand with a fun, memorable experience. By sponsoring a festival, you’re not just buying a spot for your logo on festival signage. You’re earning the right to take part in the festival buzz on social media and in real life.
Just be sure the festival audience matches up with your audience.
3. Invent a cocktail.This strategy won’t work for all brands. For instance, if you represent a rehab center or a health-food store, you might want to skip this one. But those who can be more playful with their brands should Absolut-ly take advantage.
Still think you can’t make up a cocktail recipe, because you’re not a liquor distillery or distributor? Give it a try. For example, a law firm might offer a bourbon-based recipe meant to be enjoyed at the end of a trying day in court — and an ad agency might riff on a Brandy Alexander, one of Mad Men copywriter Peggy Olson’s cocktails of choice.
4. Post your ad on the side of a streetcar.
The St. Charles Avenue streetcar is a local icon. Why not capitalize on its presence smack-dab in the middle of the street? Though tons of natives ride the streetcar every day, brands targeting tourists might do best with this method. Think about all the Facebook pictures your ad will sneak its way into — and where in the world those pictures might travel.
Streetcar ad space is restricted to a simple rectangle, and limited in size, but you can still aim to get more playful than a slogan + photo. Take a cue from these creative bus ads.
5. Solve a problem on the ground — literally.
Do you work in a service-focused business? That means you’re solving problems. So, instead of blowing your whole marketing budget on bigger and better brand exposure, consider how you can solve more problems for more people. You can partner with a nonprofit or philanthropic organization to create a cause marketing campaign that will both benefit those in need, and — just telling the truth here — make your business look reeeaally good in the meantime.
None of these pothole-reporting apps are a marketing ploy, but nevertheless, they effectively work that way. They brought a ton of positive attention to the businesses that worked on them. How can you do the same thing? New Orleans has a lot of potholes. Just saying.
6. Work with a NOLA social influencer
There are plenty of great New Orleans personalities on social media – especially Instagram – that can help you get your message out there. These accounts have built up good audiences of locals who love their content. If you take a look at their followers and see an audience that would be a good fit for your product, don't hesitate to get in touch with them.
Just be sure to start with an open mind. By collaborating, rather than just asking them to run what amounts to little more than an ad, you can come up with an idea that feels organic. You won't get much engagement if the post can be easily spotted as promotional content.
7. Make an inside joke.Remember that time the FBI found $90,000 cash in Congressman William Jefferson’s freezer? As Jefferson’s constituents, all we could do was laugh (and get righteously enraged). Until he gets out of prison in 2023, the time will always be ripe for a joke at Jefferson’s expense. A daring Louisiana bank or credit union looking for local customers might try an ad with a tagline like, “Safer Than William Jefferson’s Freezer”.
Whatever you reference, locals will get the in-joke, and appreciate your brand for making an effort.
8. Become part of a scene.
Off the top of my head, I can name comedy and tech as two local “scenes” that are growing like Southern shower mold in summer. Depending on your product, service, or target market, one of those areas might be easier than the other to get involved in. Or, find another community where your involvement might be needed or appreciated.
How, exactly, can a brand get involved with a group of (gasp) actual human beings? For starters, try sponsoring an event, or offering your service/product pro bono or at a discount. Pretend you’re going on a first date, and listen more than you speak.
9. Design something useful.
No one needs another ballpoint pen or branded lanyard. If you’re going to design and give out logo swag, pick items people want and need (and make sure you spend your marketing budget wisely).
I once went to a Pelicans game where each seat held a free, reusable shopping bag co-branded by the Pelicans, Rouses Market, and Entergy. I use that bag regularly when grocery-shopping.
Another example: As much as we love to hate Cox Communications, the company smartly gave out free, sliding webcam covers at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week 2015. The writer sitting right next to me has had the Cox logo on his computer ever since.
Just don’t forget to check if there’s a Groupon first.
10. Buy a politician.
The best marketing is content that provides value.
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