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.
- 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.
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