Marketing Without ‘Marketing’

Guest post by Sol Baker

In this article you’ll learn how to…
Study the birth of trends and early adopters
Crowdsource pertinent data
Create cultural events while marketing

These days marketing is simultaneously easier and harder. It’s easier in the sense that there are a wide variety of new online tools that can equip the wayward marketer with an arsenal of powerfully efficient information gathering techniques. It’s harder in the sense that people are aware of the presence of marketing and are somewhat jaded by it. This makes marketing campaigns less effective and puts added pressures on marketing teams to come up with innovative, cutting edge strategies. But regardless of what product or service you are promoting, be it custom pens or carpet cleaning, there are ways you can market and, more importantly, gather information crucial to marketing, without being seen as infringing on peoples’ privacy. Here are three methods for doing so:

Hunting For Cool

‘Cool hunting’ isn’t new or revolutionary at this point. Youth marketing firms have been embedding researchers into niche communities for years, gleaning trends and data and using this information to create customized marketing campaigns for their clients. With the widespread growth of the Internet, ‘cool hunting’ can now be accelerated in a way that previous generations of marketers would have salivated over. Using social media, message boards, and place-based messaging out in the field, trends can be caught as they’re born and the early adopters of these trends can be more quickly profiled and monitored.

Cool hunting, of course, traditionally takes place out on the streets, where marketers can enmesh themselves into vibrant sub-cultures. Usually this is not done to push a product, but rather to absorb information about a niche group that would normally be difficult to acquire. Street marketing now has the added benefit of a different kind of social network, seen in location-based sites like Foursquare. The newer augmented reality apps on many smartphones also allow for marketers to view a tremendous amount of information without ever having to speak to anyone. The new age of cool hunting has just begun.

Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is also a powerful technique that has accelerated due to the growth of the Internet as a popular medium. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and countless others can be used to gauge how people view a particular product or service. This information can then be shaped by marketing teams in order to craft advertisements and viral campaigns that either addresses the public’s reaction or tries to steer it in a different direction.

Crowdsourcing has grown out of the sheer popularity of the Internet as a place where people fervently share their opinions. From comment threads underneath YouTube videos to blogs to Twitter lists and Quora Q&A’s, point of views are not hard to come by online.

But how does a marketer make sense of all those different opinions?

Short of an expensive data mining operation, all this information may not add up to a singular picture of consumer attitudes. The responsibility of the marketer is look for specific messages and points of entry. There are going to be positives and negatives on most any subject. Nary a business, company name, product or service out there has a completely perfect reputation. Negative opinions must be considered just as much as the positive, if not more. Negative opinions can become the backbone of a future marketing campaign that can distill its impact. But you’ve got to know what those opinions are first.

Creating cultural events

One of the best ways to market your business is to sponsor fun, exciting events for people to attend. Concerts, conventions, parties are good examples. Not only will these events create environments in which you can observe peoples’ likes and dislikes, they will allow you to brand your company in a certain way, creating a trigger of positive imagery that people associate with you.

A great example of this is multimedia parties that partner several companies for the purpose of creating viral word of mouth. For example, a car company may want to market a certain model to a younger demographic. What better way to do this than to showcase the car at a party where this demographic would be enjoying itself. The marketing company behind this may be able to accomplish to things with such an event: one) they will be able to essentially create their own laboratory for studying the fashion, product and behavior trends of this demographic, and two) they will be creating a new branded identity for the car–a fun-friendly, exciting new image that could gain momentum through word of mouth advertising.

Marketing has, in many ways, become more tricky, even though many would agree that there are more powerful tools for effectively waging successful campaigns. The advent of online technology in marketing has made it more effective and more complex. Using crowdsourcing, cool hunting, and events that promote cultural immersion and positive branding are ways to market without being seen as ‘marketing’.

About the author

Sol Baker is a marketing analyst and freelance writer who has worked as a consultant for multiple Fortune 500 companies.

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