Marketing is the backbone of modern businesses. Since it is the key to building brand awareness, it can make or break your big new idea.

Marketing is ubiquitous, and viral marketing especially so. Scaling across multiple media channels at once, it is increasingly important to formulate a marketing strategy designed to achieve the following:

  1. attract consumer attention
  2. differentiate your business from competitors
  3. leave the public with a favourable brand impression

Many SMBs have achieved all three objectives successfully, across different geographic markets with various products and services. They managed to attract attention and differentiate themselves from their competitors. Here are the valuable lessons they can teach us about conducting successful marketing campaign.

differentiating your marketing

Growth Hacking can be an important marketing technique



Airbnb – Capturing Hearts and Minds

Airbnb operates in the lodging sector as a rental service provider, with over 500,000 properties listed online. These properties are operated by over 350,000 hosts in 192 countries across 34,000 cities, exceeding their closest competitors, IHG and Marriott International, who operate in the traditional hotel line.

Airbnb differentiated themselves through their marketing campaign, which used a metaphor comparing birds in birdhouses to people staying in lodgings. Airbnb commissioned artists to create birdhouses inspired by accommodations from various countries, with a film made about it. These were subsequently hung from an oak tree in Audubon Park, New Orleans. In addition, the film was screened throughout theatres in the USA, as part of the marketing campaign.

differentiating your marketing

They used the tagline “Every traveler deserves a home. Airbnb. One tree, 50 birdhouses, a tiny epic story. Watch it at”. With the goals of raising awareness and familiarizing people with peer-to-peer housing, it was designed to use birds and their ability to travel freely as a symbol to represent what Airbnb enables travellers to do. This differentiated Airbnb further, as traditional hotel chains could not replicate their message or the experience, with generally positive reviews of Airbnb’s marketing.



Old Spice – Laughing at yourself is an Underrated Virtue

Old Spice is a brand involved in producing and marketing male grooming products such as deodorant, anti-perspirants and fragrances to men. A marketing campaign conducted in 2010, during the US Super Bowl, resulted in extremely positive feedback for Old Spice.

differentiating your marketing

Using a mix of humor, bombastic messages and memorable performances to create an unconventional advertisement, Old Spice became a meme which enjoyed tremendous success across multiple media channels, resulting in high levels of brand awareness and product sales and volume.


Orphea – The Simplest Campaigns Can Be the Best

Orphea, a Spanish company, used a unique approach preying on the shared hatred of insect and other pests to emotionally appeal to consumers. A billboard in Milan with portions covered in transparent glue was set up in the shape of an aerosol spray, with insects getting trapped in the glue and creating a large, visible insect trap. While initially unappealing and shocking, it created a memorable message that left an imprint of the brand in the mind of consumers.

differentiating your marketing


Senador Volstead Beer – Hidden Messages and Easter Eggs are Fun

Senador Volstead Beer is a beer company based in Spain. The oddly named brand actually comes from Senator Andrew Volstead, who decreed the start of alcohol prohibition in the USA in 1920. Much like Orphea, they took an innovative approach and designed a website that apparently sold stuffed bears. However once the browser was resized, users were able to see the actual beer choices on offer. They made use of the name of an alcohol prohibitionist, as well as the apparently concealed nature of their website to utilise irony as part of their marketing and branding efforts.

differentiating your marketing 


What Can We Learn?

Marketing goals are easy to come up with, but actually accomplishing these goals can be a real challenge successfully. The companies above discovered innovative methods, appealing to the desire for novelty amongst customers, building upon their individual brands, and developing strategies that utilized tropes specific to their native markets. This was done in order to differentiate themselves from competitors and build their brand identity.

Similarly, they leveraged upon their own market position to achieve this, with the strategy of creating memorable campaigns that appealed to consumers on an emotional level.


While most SMBs may not have the resources to achieve comparable scaling in their marketing campaigns, these lessons remain highly relevant to both entrepreneurs and SMBs.

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Shiwen Yap

Shiwen Yap

Shiwen is a part-time freelance writer,entrepreneur and business developer interested in research, analysis and writing about the intersections between technology,science and business.