Consumer Marketing Tactics that Separate the Good from the Bad

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There are a number of marketing tactics that brands can take advantage of to drive sales and attract consumers. However, not all marketing strategies are equal, and in this age of digital transformation it’s worth discussing the tactics worth investing in. As consumers become increasingly mobile, it’s possible to incorporate age-old tactics with new means of delivery. The fundamentals of marketing are still very much relevant; content is still king, however, how we consumer it is changing, and so are the messages we create. Consumer decision making is no longer linear; it’s a complex web with steps for discovery, learning, choosing, purchasing and sharing opinions within our personal networks.

Additionally, the digital savvy generation z is forcing  brands to take a long hard look at their existing marketing practices and how they can reinvent the wheel. Modern consumers want more from brands; they want experiences that validate their decisions. Essentially, you need to find a way to create an authentic connection between your brand and the consumer, and a brand experience is the way to do that. Admittedly, this is new territory for many retailers, and it’s difficult to get right.

Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst marketing tactics brands are using to engage consumers today; why they work, and why they don’t:



The Good

1) Engaging Customers with Digital Promotions

Why it works: Incentive marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing. It’s a proven strategy that continues to evolve into the digital age. Unlike other traditional marketing tactics, promotions are hard to dismiss as influential to consumer behaviour. However, today, the key differentiator is how brands choose to communicate their promotions. As consumers become more and more mobile, digital promotions are much more engaging than any flyer or paper coupon. The option of having direct access to digital promotions is much more appealing to consumers, and they are more likely to visit a retailer who drives them in-store through mobile. In fact, consumers redeem SMS-delivered coupons 10 times more than other types of coupons.

Plus, SMS is one of the fastest growing forms of communication. By 2020, 48.7 million people will choose to receive business SMS messages and SMS messages have a whopping 98% open rate. Marketers have a tremendous opportunity to leverage promotions through this channel, and those who don’t will struggle against competitors.

2) Sponsorship Activations

Why it works: Brands sponsor teams and events all the time, however, how do they activate this sponsorship? As the value of experiences increases with consumers, it’s worthwhile to consider ways to ”switch on” your sponsorship.

For example, Sport Chek chose to activate it’s NHL sponsorship through an in-arena contest that was promoted throughout the game on the jumbotron. Fans were directed to a microsite where they could then play for a chance to win.

Naturally, fans are attending a sporting event and watching a team they support. Sport Chek is leveraging this relationship from a brand/team they already trust, thus creating a potentially lucrative halo effect.

3) Incentivizing Loyal Customers

Why it works: Digital promotions to bring in new customers is one effective marketing tactic, but what about your long-time loyal customers? After all, keeping existing customers is far less expensive than acquiring new ones, so why not offer your long-term customers incentives like a digital coupon or first access to a new product? Your competitors would love to draw those loyal customers over to their side, and are probably trying to do so right now, so it’s important to continue nurturing these relationships.

Additionally, consumer marketing has entered a phase unlike anything before. It’s easier than ever to collect data through digital programs, which also makes it easier to plan and execute consumer marketing campaigns based on sound tactics that are known to move the needle.



The bottomline: Digital promotions enable every marketer to engage loyal consumers and achieve their business goals.

4) Point-of-Purchase Marketing (POP)

Why it works: Marketing shouldn’t stop when a customer enters your store. In fact, now is the perfect time to influence the details of their purchasing decisions. Point-of-Purchase marketing (or, POP marketing) captures those shoppers already in-store and ready to purchase. Product displays, on-package coupons, shelf talkers that tout product benefits and other attention-getting “sizzle” often sways buying decisions at the shelf by making an offer simply too good – and too visible – to pass up. Some examples include product demos, sampling stations, and other experiences in-store that drive a consumer to purchase.

POP marketing doesn’t stop in-store either. Amazon uses POP marketing by incorporating “Add-On” items that are hard to pass up when you’re ready to make a transaction. This is why POP marketing is so successful today; it transcends the physical landscape and can be incorporated into a digital environment as well.

The Bad

1) Scarcity

The Problem: In the days before Amazon, supply and demand became a real problem for businesses and consumers. However, instant access to the products we want is rarely a concern for today’s consumers. So, claiming to have a shortage in supply, or deeming something “exclusive” is a transparent tactic that is likely to fail to motivate consumers. They aren’t anxious anymore because they know that supplies aren’t really limited. And when they catch your deception, they’ll make you pay by sharing your manipulation with the world (usually online).

2) Flyers/Mailers

The Problem: Depending on the lifecycle of your customers, you may need to occasionally send top of mind flyers to remind them of an annual event or promotion. But there are a number of reasons why this method of marketing is no longer lucrative or engaging in the eyes of consumers. First of all, more environmentally conscious consumers are less likely to value a brand who uses paper so frivolously. Additionally, your brand is now amongst a host of other junk mailers, which jeopardizes your brand affinity with consumers. It’s rare that consumers will choose a flyer over the same information via e-mail. Plus, you can track and better determine engagement through this form of communication versus paper mailers.

3) Celebrity Endorsements

The Problem: By now you’ve probably heard of the complete catastrophe that was Fyre Music Festival. But let’s use this example to unpack the many reasons why celebrity endorsements are so problematic.  Oftentimes, dollar signs can blind celebrities into endorsing causes they know nothing about. Fyre Festival used a host of celebrity models to attract consumers with seemingly fat wallets to purchase tickets to this “exclusive” luxury music experience. Unfortunately, the promotional material was nothing like the real thing and festival goers were literally left out in the rain to fend for themselves on a strange island. The point is, it’s important to build trust with consumers today, and celebrity endorsements are no way to achieve this.

Additionally, celebrities are unpredictable. If they experience a public relations crisis, then this may impact how consumers perceive your brand as well, potentially alienating consumers.



This does not suggest cutting out endorsements altogether, but choose endorsements from a respected industry expert — authority over celebrity holds more weight with consumers.

4) Use of Name

The Problem: Personalization is the name of the game for creating an engaging marketing campaign. However, customers don’t want the illusion of a connection; they want the real thing—and they know the difference. One-to-one marketing involves experiences that feel authentic to consumers. It uses more than just their first name to develop a connection that relates to them. Personalization is one of the biggest conversations around the importance of collecting data. Consumers want you to understand their deepest desires, and to craft engaging programs around those wants and needs. Anyone can gain access to a first name; but brands need to dig deeper than what’s on the surface.

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