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Hello, Summerville! Welcome to a new year! With the Lowcountry now firmly entrenched in the frosty temps of winter, you can dedicate more of your time spent indoors reading up on the specifics of marketing and social media strategy here on the Creative Consulting blog! The new year presents an additional opportunity to revamp your branding and try new things. Creative Consulting is here to make sure you take advantage of every available opportunity. We’re happy to have you here, where you’ll find the most relevant, up-to-date information about marketing your small business in the digital sphere. From building an outstanding webpage to graphic design to managing your social media to optimizing SEO to building a cohesive brand identity—Creative Consulting covers everything you could possibly need to know to take your business to the next level. We are accepting new clients at this time, so reach out to learn more about our services and meet our team!
Our last article is the perfect precursor to this one, as we delved into several different kinds of marketing, namely: co-branding, affinity marketing, and cause marketing. Co-branding and affinity marketing offer brands the chance to combine their brand awareness and meet consumers’ needs with greater efficiency, while cause marketing responds to a recent trend in consumer sentiment. If you haven’t read our Marketing Trends of 2022 article, in which we explained the latter extensively, now is the perfect time to do so! Follow up with our most recent article for detailed explanations of each marketing trend, examples, and tips!
Today, we’re continuing our exploration of marketing strategies. This time, we’ll tackle scarcity and undercover, two marketing strategies which can be used to expand your brands reach and generate positive attention. Any good marketing strategy will utilize multiple strategies to achieve a defined goal. If you haven’t already, you should start planning your marketing strategy by identifying your marketing objectives. After all, how will you know you’ve succeeded if you don’t know what you’re aiming for? According to research, marketers who have a “clear, documented strategy are 313% more likely to be successful.” The numbers don’t lie. Speaking of numbers–it’s important to keep track! In order to understand which aspects of your marketing strategy are working (and which aren’t), you’ll need concrete data to interpret. Marketing objectives might include: increasing web traffic, increasing followers, increasing conversions, or increasing the amount of time users spend on your website. For example, I want to increase my followers on X platform by 5%. This is measurable, but is it specific enough to be a smart goal? Let’s add a time component. I want to increase my followers on X platform by 5% in the next four weeks. Now it’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. In other words, it’s SMART.
Once your marketing objectives have been identified, it’s up to you to formulate a plan to help you reach those goals. That’s where strategy comes in! Let’s start with scarcity.
What is a scarcity marketing strategy?
You’re probably already familiar with scarcity marketing, only you’ve never heard of it referred to by this name. This sale ends soon! Don’t miss out! It’s a tactic most commonly used by clothing and home goods sites and relies on a psychological weakness ingrained within human beings. In the same way we fear famine and drought, we’re also innately afraid of “missing out.” Even if, consciously, we know another sale will come around and we don’t technically need the item right away, subconsciously, we might also fear losing an opportunity. Businesses capitalize on this fear, shoving giant countdown clocks onto their landing pages, ticking away while users shop and adding a sense of urgency to the entire experience.
Scarcity marketing can be subtle, though. When sites add a little bit of text underneath a product, in red letters, reading,“only three left,” this is a scarcity tactic. When businesses offer limited-time promotions–promise a free gift if customers order before the 25th or next-day delivery if customers order before 5 pm–these are also scarcity tactics. You see, what unites scarcity marketing isn’t the type of tactic used, but rather the sense of urgency generated by the tactic. It’s why limited-stock, isolated product drops perform incredibly well. Businesses can brand these drops as the ultimate purchase, inflating the perceived value of their products by tying the release to a limited supply. And, as you know, supply and demand have an inverse relationship. Scarcity drives sales, as evidenced by panic buying at the start of the pandemic. As soon as people thought there wasn’t going to be enough toilet paper, they needed as much as they could get their hands on.
Now, scarcity marketing has a pretty bad rap, as far as marketing strategies are concerned. Scarcity marketing, by its very nature, preys on feelings of insecurity and fear. Toeing the line between cultivating an atmosphere of artificial scarcity around a product and inducing negative emotions within consumers is a thin line and it's where many marketers slip up. Instead of viewing scarcity marketing as a cheap ploy, instead, recognize its propensity to generate assumptions. This product is almost sold out. This product must be popular. These two statements aren’t necessarily linked, but scarcity tactics can cause consumers to link them. Guide your scarcity marketing strategy using four sentiments: exclusivity, rarity, excess demand, and urgency. Exclusivity means only certain people can buy and own this product. To buy exclusive products you might have to join a waitlist or become a member of something. Rarity means a limited quantity of this product exists. Think: limited release. Excess demand means the amount of people who want to buy this product exceeds the current supply. This happened when the Playstation 5 sold out before it’s initial release in 2020. Finally, urgency means you need to buy this product sooner rather than later. We witness urgency at play every year, on Black Friday.
What is an undercover marketing strategy?
Undercover marketing strategies are, just that–undercover. Stealth. Secretive. Hidden. As more and more overt advertisements slam their way into people’s daily lives, more and more brands have taken to using undercover marketing strategies for their subtly. When you see an influencer using a brand of eye cream in a make-up video, this can be a form of undercover marketing. Instead of holding up the eye cream and going on a spiel about it’s wonderful benefits, brands are trusting social proof to influence consumers. Social proof is “a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation.” When you watch a sad, compelling commercial and then an insurance company’s logo pops up at the end–even though the narrative of the commercial had nothing to do with insurance–this is a form of undercover marketing. Instead of pitching the unique advantages of choosing their company over another, the company is relying on association to make their brand memorable. Association in psychology is the “mental connection between concepts, events, or mental states that usually stems from specific experiences.” Associations can be positive or negative.
Creative examples of undercover or stealth marketing campaigns include that of King Kong. Before the movie was released, giant footprints were left in beaches around the world. This spectacle wasn’t immediately claimed, but consumers are smart. Undercover marketing relies on the natural inclinations of consumers to rely on social proof, form associations, and become excited when confronted with the unexpected. Product placements are another form of undercover marketing. You’re not necessarily paying attention to what the character on your favorite show is drinking, or what the villain in the latest blockbuster was wearing, yet–in a way–are. Product placements can be extremely effective, as consumers take subconscious cues, seeking out the same products as their favorite characters/
With undercover marketing, you need to strike the right balance. Too obvious and it’s no longer undercover. Too subtle and consumers might not even realize you were appealing to them at all. It’s important to make sure your product or logo is clearly visible, in whichever capacity it's being used; or that the association between your brand and a specific sentiment is obvious. With undercover marketing, it helps to have a sense of humor and spontaneity. When people spot your marketing, they should feel as though the advertisement was placed just for them to find. Further, it doesn’t hurt if your marketing leaves a smile on their face.
We’ll continue to discuss marketing strategies in further detail in upcoming articles, including relationship and paid. Until then, we hope you’ll take advantage of the information we’ve shared in this article. For more marketing and branding expertise, the Creative Consulting blog has you covered. Tune back in for our future articles! You won’t want to miss it! Feel free to give us a call and set up a consultation. We are dedicated to helping you determine which marketing strategies will work best for your business or brand. Until next time, thank you for reading.