Have you ever watched a television show and seen one of the characters drinking a Coke and out of the blue, you suddenly had a taste for the brown beverage? If so, maybe that was just a coincidence. Perhaps you watched a new music video and saw the featured artist wearing a particular style of clothing and instantly realized that your wardrobe needs to be similarly updated. Maybe there could be a link...maybe not.
How about this, growing up, did you ever want to drive a particular car because you saw someone in a movie that you thought looked cool driving it? If so, that's more than a coincidence; it's the effect of good product placement.
Product placement occurs when a brand intentionally places a product somewhere that doesn’t appear as an obvious advertisement effort to an audience. Product placement is extremely effective because it subconsciously penetrates the mind of the audience to create brand awareness and purchase intent.
One downside to product placement for brands is that like traditional advertising, it can be very expensive. But let's leave that to the brands with the huge ad budgets. Here's four ways to use free product placement to create awareness for your brand.
1. Help Social Media Influencers so they can help you
Psychology isn’t simple. And while there are many nuances that comprise psychological theory; there’s one law in particular that every brand marketer should be aware of. That is the law of reciprocity. The law of reciprocity states that when people receive something from someone, they usually feel compelled to return the favor in kind.
You can use the law of reciprocity to your brand's advantage by reaching out to influencers and giving them an incentive to feature your products on their social media platforms.
For example, if you owned a brand that sold coffee products, you could reach out to social media influencers that have a large following and ask them to try your coffee for free. And if they enjoyed it, you could give them more free coffee in exchange for them going on Instagram or TikTok while drinking coffee from a mug with your brand's logo in front of it so everyone could see.
If that influencer had 100,000 followers, that means 100,000 people had a chance of being exposed to your brand.
2. Encourage Early Adopters to share your product
The most effective form of marketing has always been word-of-mouth. No matter how great a brand marketer is; your neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family members will still have more influence over what you wear, the next new restaurant that you’ll be willing to give a try, and even which new series you’ll watch next on Netflix - than any marketing strategy will.
That’s because our peers are our tribe. And tribalism trumps traditional marketing. Which is why getting early adopters to tell their friends about your product is so important.
However, one way you could do that is by offer exclusive prizes to your brand’s early adopters if they share images of themselves with your product on their social media pages.
For example, let’s say your brand’s main product is designer phone cases. You could send an email to 200 of your early adopters stating that if they go on X and post a picture of them holding their phone while featuring your product, they’ll receive exclusive brand offers.
By encouraging your brand’s early adopters to share your product with their friends; your product will be seen more frequently, which will make it more common – which leads to more awareness.
3. Earned publicity
Another effective way to escalate brand awareness is via publicity. The best thing about publicity is that it’s usually free and builds credibility in the minds of consumers.
Let’s face it, we trust people, as well as products, more if we see them being validated on authoritative platforms. Be honest, didn’t you trust people on Twitter a little bit more if they had a blue check (before you could pay for it) next to their name that showed they were verified?
Well, that same sentiment applies to consumers when it comes to them trusting a product or service.
This is what makes attaining publicity for your brand so important. But a few ways you could attain free publicity for your brand is by reaching out to press editors, writers, producers and other decision makers in the media with a pitch for why they should do a feature on you, your brand, or one of your products.
The best way to do this is by thinking of an angle that would be intriguing to their audience. Remember the law of reciprocity, if you can help them get a good story that'll compel their audience, they’ll help you promote your brand on their platform… a fair exchange.
4. Do it yourself (DIY)
Last in order, but not in importance – is you representing your brand to the fullest yourself. That consists of wearing apparel featuring your brand's logo/wordmark every chance that you get.
That means that just about every time you post a picture of yourself on social media, you’ll be wearing something that represents your brand. And every chance you get, you’ll show off one of your products on your personal social media pages. Or better yet, go on social media on a regular basis with the sole intent of posting pictures of your brand's logo or products.
If you don’t have any personal social media pages, create some. And represent your brand every day and become part of as many social media communities that are related to your brand’s category.