One branch of the alternative marketing movement that has been getting more and more attention, and becoming more and more popular, is making marketing personal. Advertisers seek to create personal connections with the people that they are seeking to entice to purchase their product. This can be done in many ways, but the most solidly constructive is the creation of “street teams.”
Street teams are paid conversationalists. They go out into a market, generally large cities, and hit the streets. They chat up people they pass, touting a particular product or brand. They paper a city with flyers and posters for that product. Often, they hand out free sample or even full-size versions of the product being touted.
This model is the first step in creating buzz. You have to get people talking about your product to create the word of mouth network that will make your product take off. Advertisers have discovered that one way to start the network of personal connections that is buzz is to force personal connections between your consumers and your company.
The Freebie Factor
Tapping into the power of the freebie works. Just ask Ford Motor Company about the success of its product seeding campaign for the Ford Focus. Ford gave advance models to employees of celebrities like Madonna and Adam Sandler, so the cars would become de facto commercials parked in front of the hippest clubs, restaurants and parties in town. From a base of a mere 120 influential Gen Y hipsters in five key markets, Ford moved a fleet-worthy 286,166 units in its first year.
The Ford Focus promotion was not exactly the same kind of personal contact that the street team embodies, but it does follow some of the same precepts as the personal contact model: people trust people outside of the advertising world much more than they trust people in the marketing world. By giving the cars to “normal” people, Ford created some kind of personal connection between the recipients of their freebies and the consumers they were trying to reach, Ford created buzz. The people that were given the cars were not paid marketers, and they were not celebrities. They were just people, with perhaps slightly more glamorous lives than the average consumer. Even this tenuous personal connection is enough to jump start people talking, and trusting what is said.
Similar strategies have worked for Rocketmail during their free email ‘grand opening’. Each subscriber e-mail went out with a recruitment message to the recipient and the implied endorsement of the sender. This was a much more direct personal-connection campaign. The assumption is that people would be sending email to people they knew; the implied endorsement was then seen as a personal endorsement from one person to another, where the two people did have a personal connection. The net result was what some view as the fastest new product adoption rate in history—from zero to 12 million members in just 18 months.
Tag Team Teasers
Teasers that literally tease us – in more ways than we’d publicly admit – work wonders in 2016. Following the 5 seconds of engagement rules similarly to website design, personalized marketing uses teasers to captivate someone within 5 seconds – or risk losing them.
Score one for the new generation of buzz marketers. While those schooled in so-called “classical” guerrilla marketing techniques may hold that viral marketing drives consumers to the product, many new age practitioners like Big Fat, a Manhattan-based viral marketing agency, are going a step further. They recruit street marketers to take the product to the people for clients like Nestlé, Nintendo and Pepsi.
Other tag teams earning notice for their ambush marketing tactics include:
- Lucky Strike Force crews—armed with iced coffee and beach chairs in summer, hot coffee and cell phones in winter—attempted to make exiled smokers more comfortable outside office buildings.
- Hebrew National “mom squads” hit the road in SUVs, firing up the barbecue grill for impromptu backyard parties replete with product samples and coupons.
- Sony Ericsson couples equipped with the new T68i cell phone/video camera wandered the streets of New York and Los Angeles pretending to be tourists. Passers-by kind enough to agree to take their picture got an unsolicited product pitch in return.
Honestly, It’s Not Hard
If you are looking to boost your marketing reach, there is a great deal to be said for networking in the most effective manner. Some people take to networking very easily while other people struggle to deal with this sort of situation. Technically there is nothing difficult about networking, but many people feel strange or at odds with this sort of approach.