Disruptive Marketing: When is this Approach Right for your Business?

Discover how disruptive marketing can differentiate your brand and make a real impact. Learn more today.

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Published: 13 May 2024

15 minutes read

Disruptive Marketing: When is this Approach Right for your Business?
Disruptive Marketing: When is this Approach Right for your Business?

It’s no secret that it's much harder to be found online than ever before.

Here are some stats for you to think about for a second:

  • 6 million blogs published daily (2023 Zippia)
  • About 73% of B2B marketers and 70% of B2C marketers are using content marketing. (WebFX)
  • 72% of consumers say they only engage with personalised marketing messages​ (HubSpot)

“How the hell am I  supposed to stand out from the crowd?”

The answer: disruptive marketing.


What is disruptive marketing?

Disruptive marketing deviates from more traditional approaches to try and break the status quo - this could be just what your business needs to stand out.


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The difference between traditional and disruptive marketing

To leverage disruptive marketing and get the most out of it, you need to understand the difference between traditional and disruptive techniques.

  • Traditional marketing - Structured, safe, and predictable.
  • Disruptive marketing - Stepping outside the conventional norms, a necessity to avoid being disastrously normal.

Let me take you through some different aspects of marketing and how they differ from ‘traditional’ to ‘disruptive’:


Aspect Traditional Marketing Disruptive Marketing

Relies on established channels like email campaigns, cold calls, industry events, and LinkedIn for outreach.

Looks to use new technology where possible and platforms, such as AI-driven personalisation tools and new social media platforms to break the norm.


Targets broad segments of businesses using general messages tailored to industries or larger groups.

Highly targeted, focusing on niche markets or creating new needs and solutions, often reshaping industry standards.


Costs can be predictable but potentially high, especially with reliance on expensive platforms like LinkedIn and sponsored industry events.

Costs can be variable; initial investments in technology may be high but could lead to lower long-term costs due to automation and efficiency.


Engagement strategies are typically top-down, focusing on reaching decision-makers through direct sales tactics.

Engagement is often more grassroots or viral, aiming to create broader organisational buy-in or disrupt traditional buying patterns.


Emphasises lead quantity, with metrics focused on reach and frequency of contact.

Focuses on lead quality and engagement impact, utilising advanced analytics to measure deep interaction and influence on buyer behaviour.


Tends to stick with proven strategies and gradual improvements over time.

Pushes the envelope by trying out new methods, often being the first to adopt or innovate, setting trends rather than following them.

Content Strategy

Often conservative, relying on whitepapers, case studies, and testimonials.

More likely to use interactive or cutting-edge content types like immersive experiences, interactive webinars, or dynamic personalisation.

It’s all well and good me touting the benefits of disruptive marketing but let’s face it - your marketing strategy isn’t just based on preference - it’s got to be focused around your business goals and the reality of your market.

What I would say, traditional methods of marketing are reliable and well-understood but if they’re not working for you, what's the harm in mixing things up?

Because all too often, marketers are scared to do anything new in case it doesn’t work.


What’s stopping you from trying disruptive marketing?

HubSpot's inbound approach proves it’s worth shaking things up.

HubSpot flipped the script on traditional pushy sales tactics by championing content that draws people in — think helpful blogs, insightful webinars, and SEO that meets customers right where they’re searching

It was a bold move away from the norm, but look around now: it's practically marketing 101 across industries.

So, I ask again, what’s stopping you from trying disruptive marketing?


Goals and objectives

Swinging in the dark might be fun (if you’re retired and into that sort of thing…), but in the marketing game, you need clear goals and objectives.

Let’s switch on the lights and get to the point.

Setting clear, measurable targets is vital because it allows you to track progress, make informed decisions, and justify marketing spending with realistic outcomes.

Here's how to set effective marketing targets and why each goal matters:


Increase engagement

Forget just collecting views for the sake of it. After all, what’s the point if you’re not sparking real conversations? Set targets for boosting engagement across your platforms.

More comments, shares and more genuine conversations.

How: Begin by setting a benchmark of current engagement levels. Define specific increases in comments and shares as your target for the next quarter. Utilise analytics tools to track progress and adjust tactics as needed.


Improve  lead quality

Getting loads of leads is all well and good, but you really want to focus on the ones that actually bite the hook - not those that swim around the worm.

Tailor your content and focus your targeting. I want cash, not just clicks.

How: Identify characteristics of high-value leads and use these to set up a lead-scoring system. Aim to increase the percentage of high-scoring leads by enhancing content personalisation and targeting precision.


Better customer experience

Every time a prospect interacts with your brand, you should be nudging them closer to becoming a satisfied customer.

Refine the journey until it’s smoother than Ron Burgundy’s jazz flute solo.

How: Map the customer journey, identifying key touchpoints for improvement. Set specific goals to enhance satisfaction at each point, measured through customer feedback and service interaction scores.


Expand market reach

Time to stretch your legs - whether it’s new demographics or new territories, let’s plant the flag where we’ve never dared before.

How: Define new market segments or geographic areas for expansion. Establish metrics such as new customer acquisition rates and market penetration goals, and monitor expansion success through targeted marketing campaigns.


Innovate and experiment

Keep things fresh - try new channels, try wild campaign ideas, I’ll list some below you can try at home;

  • Underwater webinars: Why host a regular webinar when you can do it underwater?
  • Volcano Bungee Jumping: Invite customers to a product launch that includes bungee jumping over an active volcano. The tagline? "Dive into the heat with [Your Product]!"

Okay, maybe not those but you get the point - think outside of the box, try something new - who knows it might just work.


Advantages of disruptive marketing


Standing out in the market

In a world where everyone zigs, disruptive marketing zags. Have an original thought, try something different.

This approach could slap a big old spotlight on your brand, making it stand out in a crowded marketplace like Dick and Dom shouting ‘Bogies’ in the library. 

Ditch the beige for something bold—because let’s face it, no one ever made history by playing it safe.


Engagement and interaction

Traditional marketing grovels for attention; disruptive marketing demands interaction.

This isn’t just about broadcasting your message into the void and hoping for the best. You need to create experiences that pull people in, get them involved, and maybe even get them a bit riled up.

Think of it as throwing a party rather than sending out invitations. It’s interactive, it’s engaging, and it builds relationships that are more personal and sticky (👀).

  • Interactive content to the rescue - Start doing quizzes, interactive videos, and polls. They’re not just fun; they’re your secret weapon for keeping eyeballs glued and fingers tapping.
  • Go Live, get lively - Webinars and live Q&A sessions can turn your audience from passive lurkers to active and potential leads.
  • Gamify - Points and leaderboards. Get some competitive spirit into your engagement strategy, and watch the participation soar.
  • Personalisation - Stop being boring. Dive deep into personalisation with data-driven content recommendations, custom-tailored emails, and offers that scream ‘just for you’. Make your audience feel like they’re being directly spoken to.
  • Challenge Accepted - Get some excitement going with social media challenges or contests. It’s like telling the world, ‘Bet you can’t do this!’—and watching them go nuts proving you wrong.


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Examples of disruptive marketing

While I’m making some jokes throughout this post, it’s important to remember that this stuff works - I’ll show you some real work examples below.

They aren’t your everyday marketing strategies, far from it - they’re bold and they broke the mould in ways that caught everyone off guard but proved to be extremely effective.


Tesla’s Cybertruck reveal

When Tesla unveiled its Cybertruck, the world went nuts—not just because it looked as if it was designed by someone whose favourite game was Tomb Raider 1 but because of its radical departure from traditional truck design. The conversation was instant and global, proving that taking risks can place you at the forefront of the conversation.



Burger King’s mouldy Whopper:

Nothing says 'disruptive' quite like showcasing your product covered in mould. By advertising a Whopper going mouldy over 34 days, Burger King boldly highlighted their move away from preservatives.

Gross? Maybe. Effective? Yes. It caught the eye and sparked discussions on food quality and transparency, pushing the boundaries of conventional fast-food marketing.



Disadvantages of disruptive marketing

As much as disruptive marketing can thrust a brand into the spotlight, there's always a flip side to consider.

While it's exhilarating to break the ‘mould’ and push the ‘mouldy’ boundaries (get it?). Such bold moves come with their own set of risks and financial implications.


Alienating existing customers

When you shake things up with a radical new approach, there's always the risk that your long-standing customers and contacts might not appreciate the new direction.

This could apply to you if you have a loyal customer base that values tradition and consistency over innovation.

The challenge is to innovate without losing the essence of what made your customers loyal in the first place.

You can do this in various ways:

  • Let them know - Before you flip the switch on something new, why not let those who matter most know? You could use surveys, tailored emails - hell, pick up the phone if you have to
  • Ease Into It - Don’t throw your customers into the deep end with radical changes. Start with a paddle in the shallow end—gradual tweaks let everyone get used to the water without causing a flood.
  • Keep the Core - Innovate without throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Anchor your changes firmly in the values that built your base. Remind them that while the packaging might be shiny and new, the gift inside remains the same.


Misreading market dynamics

Disruptive marketing relies on changing or challenging the existing market norms.

Get this wrong, and you risk not only wasting resources but also misunderstanding what your market actually wants or needs.

It requires a balance between foresight and respect for potential customer behaviour patterns that are not always predictable.

Pilot your wild ideas in smaller tests; let data guide you rather than gut feelings.

Keep an eye on how your market, and adjust your rhythm to match. This way, you can disrupt without disconnecting.

Brand mismatch

Not every brand is suited for a disruptive strategy.

For brands with a conservative or niche audience, too radical a change would seem inauthentic or forced, potentially damaging the brand’s reputation.


Cost considerations

Something as transformative as disruptive marketing might seem like it requires deep pockets, but that’s not always the case - let’s have a gander.

High initial costs

Depending on the nature of the disruption, initial costs could be high.

Innovative technology, high-profile campaigns, or developing entirely new products for testing concepts can add up quickly.

Scalability and sustainability

Some disruptive strategies might be brilliant on a small scale but expensive or impractical to maintain over time.

Consider whether the initial investment is sustainable and can be scaled up without huge increases in budget.

My MD was fine with the underwater webinar but your mileage may vary.

ROI uncertainty

The ROI for disruptive campaigns can be uncertain.

Unlike traditional methods with predictable outcomes based on past data, disruptive marketing dives into the unknown, which makes financial outcomes less predictable.

Overall, while disruptive marketing can make your brand stand out and engage with audiences in new ways, it (unfortunately) requires careful consideration of the risks and costs involved.

Balancing innovation with your understanding of audience and market dynamics is key to ensuring that your marketing efforts are both effective and sustainable.


Assessing suitability and timing

Look, I know I've been banging the disruptive war drum, but, before you jump down the rabbit hole, it’s crucial to understand not just the potential payoffs but also the hurdles you might face.

Let’s break down what it really means to step off the path with your marketing strategies—because while the idea of shaking things up gets the juices flowing, the reality can be a bit more complicated.

Market readiness

Is the stage set for your grand entrance?

Timing is everything.

Pitching high-tech in a low-tech market is like selling sushi in a steakhouse. Sure, it's sophisticated and modern, but everyone's just there for the chips.

If you're showing up late to the game, you're not a trendsetter, you're just a follower. And guess what? Followers never get to stand in the spotlight - they just clap for the golden gods.

Cultural and social factors

And then there’s the crowd. Will they cheer or boo?

The culture, values, norms and current events - shape how your disruptive play gets received.

Launch a bold, cheeky campaign in a conservative market, and you might just find your brand getting cancelled online.

Or precisely target a tech-forward market and watch your engagement metrics climb through the roof.

Understanding these elements ensures that when you do decide to disrupt, you’re not just making noise, but making something genuinely engaging.

Feeling inspired by the potential of disruptive marketing?


Book your consultation today and let's brainstorm how these strategies can work specifically for your business.

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Alternatives to disruptive marketing

While disruptive marketing strategies might rocket your brand into the limelight, they're not always suitable for every situation or every brand.

Here's how your business can use the power of more integrative approaches and ensure they are acting ethically and sustainably:

Integrative approaches

Putting all your eggs in one basket, whether traditional or disruptive, isn't always the best way to go.

Instead, consider an integrative approach that blends the reliability of traditional methods with the innovative punch of disruptive techniques.

For instance, you could use tried-and-tested email marketing to maintain contact with existing customers while experimenting with a bold, in-your-face social media campaign to attract a new demographic.

This hybrid strategy allows for steady growth through reliable channels while simultaneously exploring new market potentials without full-scale risk.

Sustainability and ethical considerations

While disruptive marketing can offer quick gains in visibility and brand awareness if done right, it's essential to consider the long-term sustainability of such strategies.

Are the tactics you're employing designed to build long-term customer relationships, or are they just flash-in-the-pan tricks to grab attention?

Additionally, the ethical implications of disruptive tactics cannot be ignored. For example, while a guerrilla marketing stunt may make headlines, if it's not aligned with the brand’s core values or is seen as culturally insensitive, it could damage its reputation in the long run.

Brands need to ensure their innovative strategies are not only effective but also responsible and align with broader social and corporate responsibility goals.

Balancing these elements helps maintain your brands integrity and public trust while still pushing the envelope in market engagement.

By integrating both traditional and disruptive strategies, businesses can harness the strengths of each approach, ensuring a more stable and sound marketing approach that supports sustained growth.

Making the decision

Alright, time to put on your decision hat - deciding if disruptive marketing is right for you or a fast track to faceplanting the pavement can be a tough choice. Let’s break down how you can gauge whether to take the plunge or stick with the tried, tested and boring.

Strategic considerations

Before blowing your load on an all-out disruptive marketing campaign, pump the breaks a bit there Barry.

What are your goals?

Are you just doing this for some attention or are you trying to build lasting relationships?

Is this right for your brand? Will it come off as try-hard behaviour?

Remember, it’s not about being a loud idiot, it’s about being heard by the right people, at the right time, in the right way.

Decision framework

Don’t just toss a coin - use a solid framework to make your choice. Get people involved, ask for opinions and get key stakeholders involved.

Use tools like a risk/reward matrix to help you weigh the benefits against the risks.

Try to think through the scenarios of what good looks like and what bad could mean for your business.

I’d advise against going into the woods and asking the witch to read your palms but each to their own.

Ultimately, the whole point of this isn’t to follow trends, its to set them for the other sheep to follow.

Shake up your ideas, line up the ducks and if all signs point to yes, go for it.

Again, make sure you’re not just making noise for the sake of it.

Time to recap

We've had a right old gallop through the world of disruptive marketing, haven’t we?

From diving deep into its principles to seeing it in action with Tesla and Burger King, we've covered a lot of ground.

Here's a quick recap of what we've learned:

Disruptive vs. Traditional

Disruptive marketing shakes things up by breaking away from traditional methods, focusing instead on innovative strategies that engage and captivate in new ways. While traditional marketing relies on well-trodden paths and proven strategies, disruptive marketing dares to be different, aiming to carve out new niches and redefine market norms.

Risks and Rewards

Sure, disruptive marketing can put you on the map quickly, but it's not without its pitfalls. From alienating loyal customers to potentially misjudging market dynamics, it's a strategy that requires careful consideration and some balls.

Integration and Ethics

We also discussed the importance of blending disruptive tactics with traditional ones for a more balanced approach and touched on the ethical considerations that must not be ignored.

Final thoughts

Disruptive marketing isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s about understanding your market, knowing your audience, and being brave enough to try something new while wise enough to hedge your bets.

Whether you're ready to go full throttle on a disruptive strategy or integrate just a dash of disruption to spice up your marketing mix, the key is to stay true to your brand’s identity and values.

So, weigh your options, consider the timing, and if you decide to go for it—make sure you're ready to stand out and handle whatever spotlight it throws your way.

Remember, the world of marketing is always evolving, and sometimes, being a bit disruptive is just the ticket you need to get ahead.

Don't follow trends - set them

Now that we've navigated through the exciting world of disruptive marketing, you might be eager to see how these strategies could transform your own business. This is your chance to get ahead of the curve and make a real impact. 

Book a detailed consultation with us, and together, we'll craft a marketing strategy that not only stands out but stands the test of time.

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