Street marketing is a term used to refer to certain marketing techniques used to promote products or services in an unconventional way in public places. The main point of street marketing is that the activities are done exclusively on the streets or other public places, such as shopping centers. Unlike typical public marketing campaigns that utilize billboards, street marketing involves the application of multiple techniques and practices in order to establish direct contact with the customers. One of the goals of this interaction is to cause an emotional reaction in the clients. The final goal of street marketing is to get people to remember brands in a different way than they are used to.
This marketing technique started by the need of businesses,especially small businesses, to attract customers rather than wait for them to come, using alternative methods for the diffusion of their brand names. As a result, the concept of street marketing was born. It has evolved from being only the application of activities on the streets, to be the development of innovative practices of promotion. For example, one method used by many enterprises to promote their products or services on the streets is the distribution of fliers. This activity does not focus on creativity, but on making publicity on the streets. However, with the passage of time, companies have developed more unconventional techniques to catch the attention of the clients.
Small businesses cannot spend so much money in marketing campaigns. One of the reasons why they apply street marketing techniques is that, as stated by Jay Conrad Levinson, author of the book "Guerrilla marketing", street marketing and other guerrilla methods do not spend a big amount of money. Instead, they spend energy, imagination and time in creating new strategies to enter or to stay in a specific market.
Also, the majority of the companies have the major goal of generating profits. To reach that goal, they develop plans in which they take into account the marketing approach. Most of those plans are based on acknowledging different kinds of methods to persuade the customers. In addition, they focus on making sure that the brand stays in their minds. There are many strategies that most organizations put into action, even though some of them do not work on certain companies. Once the strategies have been chosen, the enterprises analyze the results and decide if the marketing plan is working.
Street marketing vs. guerrilla marketing
Street marketing is a subset of guerrilla marketing. Like guerrilla marketing, street marketing has the characteristic of being non conventional. However, it is limited to the streets or public places. Other forms of guerrilla marketing use other media and processes, such as the Internet, to establish communication with the customers. Some other examples of guerrilla marketing are viral marketing and experiential marketing.
First, enterprises identify the public places where the campaign can be developed such as beaches, cultural events, places close to schools, sporting events and recreation centers for children. Next, companies have to develop a plan to get close to different media and the target market. In order to attract attention, street marketing events not only involve unusual activities, but use technology as part of the events. The purpose is to increase the value of the campaigns and get potential consumers' attention.
Besides, the plans that companies develop take into account that street marketing involves global communication and interaction not only with the customers or the media. They are also developed to identify opportunities and collect enough information about products, markets and competitors. For example, for business it is important that customers stay with them, instead of choosing the competitors’ offers. They implement innovative strategies with which they will not lose position in the market, and they consider supplementation with other advertisement through other mediums, such as radio and television, when using street marketing.
There are various examples of strategies that are used in street marketing. One of them is to provide offers to increase sales. In many cases, businesses do not only supply their products or services to be recognized, but they also offer other things for free. Another instance is to present a fundraiser offer. The point of this strategy is to help other organizations, such as schools, by offering them money. Most companies implement this method not only to increase their sales, but to improve their reputation and image among the community. Finally, there is a strategy called "team selling" that consists of conforming groups of people, the majority of them young, who go knocking the doors of different houses in a neighborhood. They do this in order to help companies promoting and selling their products or services.
When doing street marketing, organizations also consider focusing on the psychological approach. For many companies, this implies if they are having success or not. Street marketing focuses on some psychological aspects to know costumers' behavior and preferences. For example, certain psychological areas study how people’s brains are divided: 45% of people are left-brained, 45% are right brained, and 10% are balanced. Left-brained persons tend to be logical, right-brained ones tend to be emotional, and the rest combine the two. Then, according to the product or service that enterprises provide, and also the kind of costumer, businesses decide the way they are going to manage their street marketing campaigns. Besides, almost all the enterprises base their street marketing campaigns on repeating the messages they spread among their customers. Repetition is related to the unconscious part of the mind. This is the one in charge of making decisions. It lets people know what they are going to choose, as well as what they are going to buy. Businesses follow the principle that establishes that, the more people paying attention to the campaign, the more possibilities that campaign has for being remembered.
Some street marketing examples
There are various organizations who have implemented the street marketing strategies. The majority of them are small companies, but there are also big companies that have involved in the street marketing environment. Most of the examples of the strategies that both small and big enterprises have put into action include costumed persons, the distribution of tickets, people providing samples, among others.
As stated before, one street marketing conventional method that is used by many businesses is to provide fliers. The goal is to create awareness on the customers about what the enterprise is doing. One example of this took place in Montpelier, Vermont, where the New England Culinary Institute (NECI) sent a group of students to a movie theater to hand out 400 fliers. Those fliers had coupons in which NECI was inviting people to go to its monthly Theme Dinners. Another company, which name is Boston's Kung-Fu Tai Chi Club, chose the option of disseminating fliers instead of placing its advertisements on the newspapers. The purpose of the fliers was to promote the company's self-defense classes for women.
Other businesses apply the technique of sending disguised people to promote things on the streets. For example, Match.com organized a street marketing activity in the “Feria del Libro” (“Book Fair”) in Madrid. It consisted of a man dressed like a prince who was walking among the crowd looking for his “real love”. He had a glass slipper and even got to try the shoe on some people. A woman behind him was giving bookmarks to the people which contained messages such as “Times have changed; the way to find love, too” or “You have been reading love stories all your life; experience yours on Match.com”. Also, in Madrid and Barcelona, Nokia developed a campaign called “Avestruz” (“Ostrich”) to promote the 5500 and 5700 mobiles. In the campaign, a group of real-size ostrich puppets tried to interact with young people in order to let them know these mobiles provide a high-quality MP3 playback. The puppets were holding their own telephones and listening to the music. When a young person appeared, the puppet tried to catch his/her attention to show him/her the quality of the mobile. The reason why Nokia decided to use ostriches was that they are big animals, so people could easily look at them.
There are enterprises that disseminate passes or tickets to different events. For example, Sony invests on joining promoters and tells them that they have to infiltrate in public meetings. What they have to do is to distribute free tickets to concerts and other musical events sponsored by the company. Another instance is the Spanish company Clickair (an extension of Iberia airlines), that developed a campaign in which a group of five people had to walk through Barcelona streets dressed as Euros. The group was supplying approximately 3,000 tickets to promote different Clickair destinations. The people who first sent a SMS message with the required information would get free tickets to go on a trip. In the end, the company received a total of 3,390 messages.
Along with these examples, there are other street marketing techniques that are even more unusual. Lee Jeans, a French company dedicated to the selling of jeans, promoted the opening of their new store in rue des Rosiers in Paris. The method they applied consisted of distributing denims, as well as denim accessories, on the different streets of the neighbourhood. Furthermore, in Italy, the members of the company Nintendo put into action a campaign in which they used post-its to promote the Wii console. They pasted several post-its with the shapes of some characters from different video games. Those images were placed as if they were billboards on the streets. “Wii not forget”, the name of the campaign, and a brief explanation of it, were the words written on the post-its.
In some cases, some street marketing may incite the ire of local authorities, such was the case in Houston, Texas, when BMW's ad agency (Street Factory Media in Minneapolis) attached a replication, made from Styrofoam, of a Mini-Cooper to the side of a downtown building. For the cost of a small city-issued fine, the company received front page advertising on the Houston Chronicle.
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