Reverse marketing describes any marketing strategy that encourages consumers to seek out a product or company on their own. This approach differs from a traditional marketing strategy where marketers seek out the consumer.
Understanding reverse marketing
According to Cambridge Dictionaries Online, reverse marketing is a strategy that encourages individuals to choose a product or company via “general advertising, rather than marketing to a particular group of possible customers.”
In essence, reverse marketing seeks to build trust with the consumer such that they will seek out a brand of their own volition. Trust, as is the case with most marketing campaigns, is created when the business offers help, advice, or other useful information in such a way that the consumer considers them experts or authorities.
Businesses that use the reverse marketing technique must strike a delicate balance between avoiding coercion and not being so vague that the consumer fails to make the intended connection and chooses a competitor brand instead.
Beauty brand Dove, for example, ran a reverse marketing campaign in 2013 called the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. The campaign aimed to show women they were more attractive than they supposed. Each woman described themselves to an artist who then sketched a portrait of them, with the portrait then compared to another sketch based on the description of the woman provided by a stranger.
The stranger’s image was invariably more flattering than the one provided by the woman herself, which invoked a powerful emotional connection in viewers and inspired women to consider that they were more beautiful than they thought. Note that Dove was not marketing its products as a way to reduce imperfections or enhance beauty per se. Instead, the company endeavored to reinforce that its brand was committed to enhancing the self-esteem and confidence of women. It was then up to the individual consumer to make the connection between these qualities and Dove’s beauty products.
Reverse marketing best practices
Here are some general tips to implementing a reverse marketing campaign:
- Evaluate the business – in other words, how is the product, service, or company itself perceived by the general public? Does the company understand the aspirations and pain points of the target audience? Reverse marketing requires that goals are set and performance evaluated to measure success. Many businesses also use the approach to reposition their brand and set the tone for how they would like it to be portrayed.
- Do not be invasive – it is important to remain as inoffensive as possible during reverse marketing. Remember, the consumer must feel compelled to seek out the product or company on their own. If email addresses need to be collected, ask for permission first. A video advertising campaign on YouTube, for example, could also be made skippable to ensure consumers do not feel as if they are being forced to sit through a message.
- Focus on content – the value of premium quality content cannot be overstated. When Dove created their reverse marketing campaign, the company ran a series of professional videos for women of all shapes and sizes with the individual sketching each woman a former forensic artist at the FBI. The videos were released with a frequency that did not overwhelm viewers and touched on meaningful topics that fostered a deeper relationship between the company and its ideal buyers.
- Use social media – many companies also use Facebook pages, for example, to post relevant and useful content to their audiences. This positions the company as the go-to source for information on a topic. It’s important to provide value first before more strategic posts that sell products start to appear. This approach works equally well on platforms such as Twitter and YouTube.
- Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty:
- In this campaign, Dove didn’t directly promote its beauty products. Instead, they created a series of emotional and empowering videos that challenged women’s perceptions of their own beauty.
- The campaign featured real women describing themselves to a forensic artist who then sketched their portraits. Then, a stranger described the same women, and another sketch was created. The results consistently showed that the stranger’s description led to a more flattering portrait.
- This approach tapped into women’s self-esteem and self-perception issues, building trust by addressing a common insecurity. It encouraged women to rethink their self-image and, indirectly, associate Dove with boosting self-esteem.
- Skincare Company’s YouTube Channel:
- A skincare company may create a YouTube channel dedicated to educating viewers about skincare routines, skin types, and product ingredients.
- By offering free, informative content, the brand positions itself as a knowledgeable authority in the skincare industry.
- Over time, viewers come to trust the brand’s expertise and may be more inclined to seek out their products when making skincare choices.
- Fitness Apparel Brand on Social Media:
- A fitness apparel brand can leverage social media platforms like Instagram to share workout guides, nutrition tips, and inspirational fitness stories.
- By consistently providing valuable content, the brand becomes a go-to source for fitness enthusiasts seeking advice and motivation.
- Over time, followers may associate the brand with their fitness journey and consider their products when purchasing workout gear.
- Technology Company’s Webinars:
- A technology company hosts free webinars on topics related to its industry, such as emerging technologies or best practices.
- By offering valuable insights and expertise, the company builds trust among participants, positioning itself as a knowledgeable resource.
- Attendees, who have gained valuable information, may later seek out the company’s products or services when they have relevant needs.
- Car Manufacturer’s Educational Events:
- A car manufacturer sponsors events focused on safe driving practices, car maintenance, and automotive innovations.
- By promoting safety and knowledge, the brand establishes trust among event attendees.
- As attendees associate the brand with safety and expertise, they may be more inclined to consider the manufacturer’s vehicles when purchasing a car.
- Reverse marketing describes any marketing strategy that encourages consumers to seek out a product or company on their own.
- Reverse marketing is effective when the brand can build trust with consumers in its target audience. This can be facilitated by the brand positioning itself as an authority on a subject with information that provides value.
- Reverse marketing is not too dissimilar to other forms of marketing. Nevertheless, it is important to first evaluate how the business or product is seen by consumers and then set objectives that can be tracked and evaluated. It is also vital to avoid invasive marketing campaigns and instead focus on high-quality content and social media.
Key Highlights of Reverse Marketing:
- Definition: Reverse marketing encourages consumers to proactively seek out a product or company, in contrast to traditional marketing where marketers reach out to consumers.
- Building Trust: Trust is a crucial element in reverse marketing. Brands establish trust by offering help, advice, or valuable information, positioning themselves as experts or authorities in their respective fields.
- Balancing Act: Successful reverse marketing involves a delicate balance between avoiding coercion and providing enough information to help consumers make informed choices without being too vague.
- Example – Dove: Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty is an illustrative example of reverse marketing. Instead of directly promoting products, it focused on boosting women’s self-esteem, letting consumers connect the brand with confidence.
- Best Practices:
- Evaluate the Business: Understand how the business is perceived, set goals, and measure performance.
- Non-Invasiveness: Respect consumers’ preferences and avoid invasive tactics. Seek permission when collecting data.
- Content Quality: Create high-quality, valuable content that fosters a deeper connection between the brand and its audience.
- Social Media: Utilize social media platforms to share relevant content and position the brand as a go-to source for information.
- Key Takeaways:
- Reverse marketing emphasizes consumer-initiated engagement.
- Trust-building is crucial; brands should establish themselves as authorities.
- Evaluate the brand’s image, set clear objectives, and avoid invasive tactics.
- High-quality content and social media engagement are vital for success in reverse marketing.
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