The history of marketing has always been a whirlwind of experiences with the goal of capturing every sense the consumer has and turning them onto a product, service, or location. Basically it’s been a form of brainwashing, blasting your eyes, ears, and emotions with messages geared toward getting you to spend money.
Think about all of those ‘Get Rich Quick’ schemes. Six Figures in Six Minutes. 30 Minutes to Flat Abs. These types of marketing ploys have been used in books, online seminars, conventions, and anywhere else they can hock their products. This has led to an untrustworthy attitude towards the “fast marketing” style that companies use. However, despite the poor approval ratings, this is still a commonly used tactic.
While it doesn’t seem it will be going away anytime soon, there’s a new trend on the rise. Consumers have begun to swing toward slowing down and enjoying life in recent years, and this idea has permeated the realms of marketing and advertising.
One of the most blatant examples of this was in an ad that Diageo, the massive alcoholic beverage dealer, put out during the holiday season in 2015. It featured Nick Offerman, also known as Ron Swanson from the show “Parks and Recreation”, sitting in front of a fireplace sipping whisky. While that may not seem like a ridiculous setup for a commercial, you should know that the ad lasted for 45 minutes.
And throughout that time, Offerman didn’t say a single word. You can’t get much slower marketing than that.
Well, maybe you can.
Ronseal, a wood stain and paint company from England, released a commercial spot that showed a man painting a fence. That is all the ad showed. Audience members were literally watching paint dry on a fence.
Why has this really taken hold lately? It seems that companies are finally doing a little more listening to their target customer base and bringing things down to a relatable level across the board.
Pete Blackshaw, Vice President of Digital and Social Media at Nestlé, wrote an article for AdAge back in 2009. He was ahead of the curve when it came to the slow marketing revolution. Here are the reasons he put forth as to why slow marketing should become a more mainstream idea.
Put the Consumer First: In our speed, we’re getting ahead of the consumer. We must always anticipate consumers’ needs, but we need to be sensitive about tripping them in their paths. Attentive and disciplined listening is one critical preliminary step before we engage. At the end of the day, the consumer is our teacher — and you don’t piss off the teacher.
Back to the Listening Backyard: Social media has opened up a massive feedback and listening pipe. But we can’t ignore our own brand backyards. Slow marketing is about giving direct contact as much credence as external conversation. Boring stuff like 800 numbers and direct-feedback forms — or even a “Talk directly to us” button — is just as important as a Twitter account. Slow marketers never miss the obvious outlets of consumer catharsis. Getting this right lends credibility to other conversational beachheads.
Conversational Sustainability: Yes, we can get the conversation going almost immediately or launch a quick-hit buzz campaign, but the rules of slow marketing suggest that the biggest word-of-mouth dividends accrue from longer-term, often more operational investments: great products, superb experiences, world-class customer service, committed employees who fortify the brand. One could argue that Apple is a slow-marketing winner.
Build Brand Credibility: A slow-marketing movement would suggest that before we go crazy with the new and cutting-edge, we must reflect on what it means to be credible in this new environment. Consumers can see right through us, and credible brands win. Just ask the editors of Wikipedia. This is basic, boring and perhaps uninspiring but essential.
Create the Hub First: Add the satellites later. I recently sat in a presentation where a social-media-enamored brand executive suggested killing off the brand website. A slow marketer would never dream of that. The website is the hub for essential information, basic consumer search, syndicated content (including for retailer partners), direct-feedback opportunities, wireless applications and services, and more. Moreover, brand sites are significantly more trusted than other ad or promotional vehicles.
Pick Your Battles: The social-media feeding frenzy puts a premium on responding to all conversation. You don’t need to respond to everything. Take a step back before diving in. In some cases, not engaging is the best form of engagement.