I appreciate not everybody works for casual organizations that allow for some edge or rebelliousness to be injected into their marketing efforts. However, people still do business with people and people have personalities so therefore your marketing should too. And it should be a fucking cool personality. The most interesting people I know are not "average", instead they tend to be strongly opinionated, are kinda odd, and live life based on their own set of values. Depending on your organization there will be a sliding scale of what's acceptable or not but I still believe there are ways you can buck the system and still come out a hero.
Personally, I've never been one to follow convention - That road is too crowded and I've always questioned if it was the right road to be on anyway. Often we do things out of habit or because of tradition - It's the easy thing to do, won't get you in trouble, and is supposedly proven. But, when it comes to marketing doing what everybody else is doing is a sure way to achieve mediocrity. Rather than tell you tired and vacant statements like "be remarkable", "spread awesome", and "provide value" I'm going to share three ways you can unleash your inner rebel and create some badass marketing:
Explore fringe culture
The most popular things are not necessarily the best things - This applies to virtually everything including music, film, software, cars, shoes, cookware, you name it. Of course there are some market leading products/services that truly are best in class but they're often the domain of large brands with billion dollar revenues and marketing budgets larger than the GDP of most Central American countries. If you work for a small or medium sized business you're better off to use guerrilla tactics and a lot of ideas can come from exploring what's going on in the fringes of pop-culture. Innovation and different perspectives often originate on the fringes and many wane but some breakthrough with remarkable success.
For example, a Canadian company called Freshbooks that offers cloud based accounting software (not the sexiest of industries) has risen to international prominence amongst it's market based on it's whacky and off-the-wall marketing stunts. One particular thing they did was rip-off the cult comedy TV show Arrested Development by building a trade show booth that was a replica of the Banana Stand used in the show and then mailed bananas to a bunch of tradeshow attendees with a code on it that attendees could then bring to their booth to redeem for sweepstakes prizes. Regardless if you watched Arressted Development, it was a unique strategy and it brought them more attention than any other booth. As they say in the show, "there's always money in the Banana Stand."
Try things that make you uncomfortable
Most of us try to get through our jobs with as little resistance as possible - Do good enough work, maybe achieve some recognition, and then go home. This might work well for many professions but if you're in marketing then being good enough isn't. When is the last time you took a risk with your marketing? I don't mean a risk like shifting budgets from print to digital, I mean doing something completely outside your comfort zone; the equivalent of bungee jumping with your marketing. Everybody has a different comfort zone but some things you might consider doing include overcoming the fear of public speaking by presenting at conferences, creating an industry event and inviting customers as well as competitors, writing a book, stop attending trade-shows and instead treat your most valuable prospects/customers to an all expense paid trip to a client retreat. These ideas aren't particularly badass but they're not the norm and it's because they're uncomfortable things to do.
Make some enemies
The say it's better to be hated by people than for them to be indifferent. I'm not saying you should try to be hated but if you want to make an omelet then you need to break some eggs. Take a stand; position yourself against a competitor or conventional school of thought. Consider how Salesforce.com has successfully marketed themselves as being anti-boxed-software or Subway has convinced billions to "eat fresh". You probably don't want to go as far as calling your competitors names or disparaging them but don't shy away from having convictions and passion for what you represent. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and take a contradictory point of view. Doing so will encourage discussion and people will remember your name and what you stand for. If you don't stand for something then you'll fall for anything.
Do you have any badass tips to share? If you're smart then it's your duty to share your opinion. If not then go break some rules or give me a call and I'll do it for you. That's how I roll. Thanks for reading.