Marketing is harder than it looks. Whether it’s for home products, toothpaste or cat food, a simple idea could take months, even years to cultivate. Each year, companies spend millions of dollars trying to convince consumers to choose their products services over another. Especially in today’s economy, it’s not surprising that many businesses are rethinking their advertising in order to open doors to new and different customers.

In a world driven by Facebook pages, Twitter and iPhones, shaking up your marketing plan can be a challenge. Despite hundreds of marketing outlets, decision makers are faced with the risky decision of where and when to place their company’s key messaging in the marketplace.

Of course, that’s where the professionals come in: advertising agencies. Agencies can help any business achieve marketing bliss
through traditional channels, both in print and digitally. Many businesses, however, are doing something totally different: turning to consumers to help revamp key messaging. Mountain Dew, a brand with a history of marketing victory, is doing just that with special edition cans featuring artwork that will make any head turn.

Skateboarder Paul Rodriquez and legendary skateboard artist Don Pendleton inspired 35 skate shops to partner with an artist to design special edition cans for Mountain Dew that will be distributed nationally. Five skate shops from each region of the country are currently competing to see their can in stores.

Want to know the catch? Fans of the skate shops decided which designs won the regional competition and will also decide which cans gets distributed nationwide. Fans will decide – not top marketing executives, Mountain Dew’s CEO or a random drawing. Now, that’s unique marketing.

Just like the Grateful Dead, Mountain Dew is giving customers a voice while mixing a more traditional medium with newer online technologies. If Mountain Dew sees success like the Grateful Dead did, this won’t be the last time fans run wild with their brand. I’m betting they never look back.

How can home and building products leverage customer input? Sherwin Williams gives its customers endless paint color possibilities with a color visualizer, and Owens Corning urges those in the market for a new roof to first take a Roofing Color Compass Personality Quiz for just the rate shade to match a certain personality. But how about fans creating an actual voice for the company, rather than taking advantage of user-friendly options? Is it happening…or is this new territory to uncover? Let me know what you think.