Coca Cola, Old Spice and The Bachelor do it.
Starbucks is doing it too.
So most likely, others will follow suit.
What am I talking about?
Businesses cannot rely on a linear marketing approach any longer. In today’s content-oriented environment, they must integrate traditional with digital content marketing, emphasizing all touchpoints as a buyer goes through their journey, creating a more customized experience that over time, will result in greater sales.
If I lost you at ‘nonlinear marketing’, let’s back up and get everyone on the same page.
What is nonlinear marketing?
Go back to your elementary math days where you had linear functions, which graphed a straight line.
A linear function would give you a straight path from point A to point B. It was direct; there were no curves in the road. This is similar to a linear marketing approach, where marketers use time-worn tactics to promote their products and services directly to their audience…whether they want it or not. This is a traditional type of marketing that can be disruptive, obtrusive and completely uninvited.
Think about the TV ads you fast-forward through; junk mail you didn’t ask to receive; print ads that interrupt that magazine article you are trying to read.
By contrast, a nonlinear function does not graph into a straight line. It is an indirect path from point A to point B; there are curves in the road. This is akin to a nonlinear marketing approach, where the experience for consumers is seamless but with many different touchpoints or points where a company communicates with them.
Think about the fact that you can connect with a business through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram; email marketing; their blog; by leaving a review of their business on Google.
By using a nonlinear marketing approach, a business can create demand and preference for its product by having the business be integrated and participate in the consumer’s life (and vice versa).
The benefits of this marketing approach over linear or traditional marketing are pretty obvious. Most consumers dislike marketing that is disruptive, obtrusive and uninvited. By contrast, when the marketing is woven into the fabric of a consumer’s life, it is much more palatable – and consumers will eventually reject traditional in favor of it (and already are).
How can you use this approach?
Take your cues for the big guns who already are. They’ve accepted that buyers are on a journey that isn’t a straight line from an ad in a TV commercial to a buying decision. They can be highly influential without overtly saying “buy my product/service”. The content they share may not even specifically communicate what the business offers but rather be used to simply build a relationship, evoke a mood. Most importantly, it isn’t about a brand having a monologue or “one-way” conversation with its customers; rather, it’s how the brand creates a dialogue or has communication flowing in both directions. It’s more collaborative – and allows the brand to learn a great deal about its customer base.
Would some examples help? Here are a few:
- A Youtube video showcasing behind-the-scenes at your business
- Anything that entertains – and can be shared on your website, social media or email
- A hashtag on photos you share on social media that users can search to find more content from you
- A Facebook live or YouTube video where you teach the viewer a skill
- A blog article sharing or teaching anything of value to the reader – free of charge
- Online reviews for your business – where you respond to the feedback given
- A photo sharing contest, where your followers participate by sharing their pics to your social channel
The possibilities are endless. So long as you have the right tools (social channels, blog, email marketing) and content that delivers some kind of value without overtly selling, you are in business. And if you’re smart, you’ll step back and look at your target customer and market and develop a content plan for using nonlinear marketing in all the right touchpoints. We believe that all of us can take advantage of this refreshingly untraditional approach that consumers are warming up to more and more each day.
As always…if you need help with either ideas or execution, we’re here.