“By the way if anyone here is in advertising or marketing, kill yourself.”
– Bill Hicks, comedian and social critic
As blunt and abrasively, the late Bill Hicks puts it; he’s not entirely off the mark. Most marketing self-help books, blogs and publishing will tell you that marketing is all about pushing your product down the customer’s throat and compelling and pressuring them into buying your product. This can be done by the means of aggressively bombarding your brand everywhere using different media tools and outlets to a point where the customer has no choice other than to bend. Social media is a prime example of how one can literally hog and clutter the consumer’s mind by running bulk advertisements over, and over and over again, to the point of the consumer just caving in. But does it work? With a stunning array of brands popping up every now and then, does psychological encroachment of the consumer’s head space actually influence him or her to buy your product? Especially when the new-age consumer is smart, informed and ten steps ahead of your worn out tactics, like the old Bill Hicks? It might surprise you, but the most effective marketing is the one that is undetectable. The one that happens spontaneously without the customer catching a whiff of the tremendous amount of work, planning and effort that actually goes into it. Real, powerful, persuasive marketing is like a magic trick, where the product is sold even before the customer realizes how you guessed his or her card. It’s subtle, cool and effortless to the point of seeming invisible.
Invisible marketing is based on inciting behavioral responses, by relaying a message which cannot be seen. It’s subtle, deep and based on every day behaviors and purchasing habits. It’s true for most consumers that they all want to buy, but don’t want to be sold to directly. A good example is Amazon’s Indian campaign, “Aur Dikhao”. Knowing how Indian buyers are price conscious and variety hungry, Amazon managed to imprint an image of endless variety at online discounted prices. Also playing on idle surfing habits of most online customers, Amazon turned its website into a lurking spot for both willful and uncertain buyers without being overtly pushy. “Apni Dukan” took it further by giving a localized and homely touch to the shopping experience and making the experience akin to buying from a physical store.
Take Apple, they elevate their marketing from mere selling into an experience to behold. Every new Apple product launch is an event, not just a piece of hardware up for sale. And customers seem to relish being part of something bigger than themselves—A wave, a trend, a phenomena. That way the product sells itself by making the process greater than just a mere transaction.
Another way invisible marketing works is by letting customers have autonomy over the way they want the product to be marketed to them. Take the brand GoPro whose “video cameras that turn ordinary people into stars of their own self-shot action movies.” By letting users take charge and creating their own videos as content, there’s a level of engagement and participation that can outrival the most large-scale, expensive ad campaigns. With user content, the customers don’t even realize they are being advertised to, to begin with!
So how do you go about doing this? For one, try to involve your customers into the designing process. Give them options, customizations and a chance to participate in making the product itself. They will appreciate you for letting them transform from just a sales figure, into an actual stakeholder. Just listen.
An effective brand is the one which masters storytelling. The more engaged, captivated and attached the customer is to your narrative, the more likely it is he or she will buy it. Try and involve them on a deeper, sentimental level.
Another way is to make the customer feel like he or she is part of a bigger thing than just the product being sold. A way to do this is invest time and effort in creating platforms where they get to have this transformative experience
At Kairo5 Marcom, the focus is not to just mindlessly unload content and digital platforms on our clients without any forethought or good reason. Rather, it’s to work out the best approach which suits them. We firmly believe in combining both reliable, old-school traditional means and real world connection with the best in modern, cutting-edge digital savvy strategies to get long-term results. Every brand comes with a separate set of circumstances, attributes and contexts and we ensure our client’s messaging and subtext is in line with their audience’s tastes and aspirations. We fancy ourselves as match-makers, we pick out the best suitors that we know our clients deserve.
So as a marketer, every time you hear that Bill Hicks indictment, remember that real, authentic marketing is about putting yourself out there and having a unique personality that your customer can latch on to. Don’t try too hard.