In this blog post, we answer the question “what is reverse marketing?” and discuss the pros and cons of using reverse marketing for your business. We will also provide tips for using reverse marketing effectively.
What is reverse marketing?
Reverse marketing is a type of marketing when customers look for the brand, products, or services rather than the business searching for the customer. Traditional or standard marketing usually involves marketing campaigns that reach out to their target audience, in an attempt to sell their product or service.
Reverse marketing, however, can involve campaigns that raise brand awareness but don’t seek to generate leads directly from the campaign.
A brand might, for example, advertise its brand rather than its products on TV or in magazine publications with the objective of raising awareness of the brand. When a customer has a need for what they offer, they will then approach the company that ran the advertising campaign.
Examples of reverse marketing
As a customer, Walmart has been known to do this often with its suppliers. Rather than being approached by suppliers trying to sell their products, Walmart actively seeks brands that can make or produce products, potentially at lower costs than the competition.
Well-known brands such as Coca-Cola and Mcdonald's often use reverse marketing by advertising the brand. By doing this, retailers who might stock drinks and hungry consumers are more likely to relate those brands to what they offer. When they are looking at what drinks to stock or how to fill those hungry tums, those brands might be the first thing that springs to mind.
Orabrush is another example of a company that has used reverse marketing successfully. Their brand awareness campaign on YouTube has been linked to Walmart contacting them to purchase their products.
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Advantages of reverse marketing
Reverse marketing builds greater loyalty from customers who are more likely to spend more and become long-term loyal clients. Think of it this way - if someone is so keen to approach you to buy from you then there is a high level of trust and confidence in your brand and, in many cases, the customer is what’s often referred to as a brand advocate (someone who is so bought into your brand that they rarely, if ever, consider alternatives).
With traditional marketing, a lot of brands can use aggressive tactics that involve telemarketing, email marketing and proven and very direct sales processes to get sales, but they can be intimidating and off-putting for many potential customers.
Reverse marketing, however, means that the customer approaches a brand that they trust and like or love. They are more comfortable with the brand than they might be with a more direct email and telemarketing campaign.
Feeling comfortable with the brand is more likely to build loyalty and the higher the trust, the more they are likely to spend. They are also more likely to tell friends and family or business contacts about what you offer - leading to more effective reverse marketing.
Disadvantages of reverse marketing
Reverse marketing can require a lot of time, effort and money. Building up a brand - and awareness of a brand isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Even when you have built up awareness, it doesn’t mean that a potential client will consider you.
In sales and marketing, I often tell clients that it’s not just about interacting with a potential customer and building trust, you also need to be at the front of their mind when they are ready to buy.
Take cars as an example. If someone buys a new car every 3-4 years then a car manufacturer doesn’t just need to build up awareness of their brand over the long-term, they also need to be at the front of their mind at the time when they are looking to buy a new car.
Marketing to that customer just after they have bought a new car is less effective than it is marketing to them when they are actively looking to buy. We’ve seen businesses contact potential customers when they aren’t ready to buy but then they don’t follow up or continue their marketing campaign later when the customer might be in buying mode.
Is Reverse marketing the way forward?
I’ve personally been in sales and marketing for around 25 years (I’ve almost stopped counting how many years) and, during this time, I’ve heard the arguments for the direct approach and the “let the customer come to you” or reverse marketing approach.
And, without sounding like a politician, the best approach is a blend of both. It also depends on your line of business, the industry dynamics, how big your budget is and how aggressive or direct you decide to be with the traditional marketing approach.
Before a customer buys from you, they need to trust the brand. Without that level of trust, they either won’t buy or they’ve been effectively forced to “sign up” to what you offer.
However - even with the highest level of trust, it doesn’t mean they will buy. I’ve often told clients that “if you don’t ask for the order, you risk not getting it”. This means having to use a more direct approach in the right way - and at the right time.
To achieve sales and marketing success, a blend of reverse marketing and traditional or normal marketing is needed. You can succeed by just using one of them and they are both proven to be effective, but combining the two leads to better chances of success.
At Think Twice Marketing, a large number of our fabulous customers are from referrals and word of mouth. Having happy customers or brand advocates is the ultimate way to go but we still actively reach out to our target audience with lead generation campaigns as part of an overall marketing strategy.
How to create a reverse marketing plan
A reverse marketing strategy or plan should be part of a wider marketing strategy that includes a range of sales and marketing activities to grow the business.
Make sure you are clear on your brand message, who your target audience is and where they “hang out” or how you can reach them. This should be done before creating a marketing plan with campaign activities.
The marketing plan should include activities that have the highest ROI (return on investment). Make sure you are clear on what campaigns you should run that will help raise your brand awareness as much as possible and in the most effective way.
If you need help creating a marketing plan, we can help. At Think Twice Marketing, we use a proven process that involves the 3 core elements (defining your target audience, differentiator and message) before creating a clear, effective marketing plan for growing your business, and your brand. Contact Think Twice Marketing for a free discussion to find out more.
The opinions in these blog posts are those of marketing expert and book author Darren Hignett.