Sometimes you can’t fix a bad website.

It probably took me about five years of leading digital campaigns for brands in a variety of industries before I finally accepted that sad fact. The problem is, when you know what to fix it is easy to think that no one will object to you doing it. Unfortunately, fixing a bad website is always more complicated than it seems. Team silos, IT restrictions and added costs are just a few of the reasons website updates can be hard to implement. Yet there is a trick that digital teams have used for years to work around this problem and it can be summed up in a single concept: the microsite.

A “microsite” is built independently of a larger brand website. It is usually customized for a campaign or smaller initiative and is completely self contained. On a microsite, you can fix the branding, align the content and voice, and deliver a great experience without a customer ever needing to visit another site.

Microsites compensate for bad websites. It’s no wonder marketers love them.

Yet it turns out this technique is not as new as you might think.  In the liquor and spirits business, for example, one of the key distribution channels for direct sales are Duty Free shops. In those shops, as well as on many alcohol store shelves, liquor brands commonly use “secondary packaging” such as boxes, gift bags and gifts with purchase to promote their products. Customized by region and venue, these secondary promotions are simply layered on top of the regular product packaging, and work extremely well in the “last mile” of marketing when customers are considering what to buy or what information to pay attention to.

Inspired by the combination of this idea and the longstanding use of microsites in digital – here are two of my favorite examples of great secondary marketing – as well as the important lesson you can learn from each:

Have A Personality (Innocent Drinks)

One of the best examples of brand personality that I have used often in presentations is Innocent Drinks – a smoothie maker out of the UK. For years they have had a charitable promotion with a nonprofit called Age Concern designed to help senior citizens by raising money by selling smoothies with tiny knit winter caps on them. The smoothie bottles sell at a premium, stand out on store shelves, and donate the extra proceeds to the charity. It’s a signature effort, and one that has paid off for many years.

Make It Interactive (J&B Whiskey)

The latest promotion from J&B Whiskey features an interactive box that ties to a promotion on Facebook  to get consumers to interact with the history of the brand. Through clever use of a fun package, the brand works to address the biggest challenge facing most liquor brands … getting consumers to ask for their product by name and brand.

Whether you are in a role filled with processes and required approvals – or a more entrepreneurial fast moving culture, the idea of secondary marketing can inspire you to think just a little bit differently about how to promote something new without necessarily changing everything you already have to align with it.