Friday, March 5

Street Teams


Street Teams. An age-old marketing tactic to disrupt consumers in their path and tell them about your brand. Either with a sample, a demo, a piece of collateral material, or an irresistible offer to get them to try.

We see Street Teams in lots of places. The makeup counters in department stores are infamous for perfume samplers. Every time I walk out of the Penn Station train station in New York I am "greeted" by Street Teams offering free newspapers, trial offers for cell phone service, coffee samples ... you name it.

With the economy as tough as it is, the Street Teams seem to be ramping up. Where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic, I've even seen restaurants standing out in front with offers to try to pull people into their establishments. Some are getting rather aggressive.

Truthfully, from a marketing perspective I am not crazy about Street Teams. Although I have seen some that are done really well, particularly at consumer events, most are a little too "in your face" for my taste, and I think they have the potential of damaging a brand. Sure if what the brand is offering is really compelling, then the tactic can work. But otherwise, disrupting a consumer in this manner can be risky behavior. And if the disruption is "aggressive", which it often is, I think it can cause a negative reaction. The annoyance can rub off on the brand equity.

I know that I start to feel like the brand can't be that good if it has to try so hard. A restaurant trying that hard to get me in just can't be that good! Or if I am in a rush to get to work or to catch a train, the last thing I want is a brand getting stuck in my face. I reject it.

For me, a brand shouldn't storm into a consumer's life but should instead be invited in. Like on Facebook, you send a friend request and then it has to be accepted. That's how marketing should work too. If a brand wants to enter the life of a consumer, it should be invited in. It's a much more positive way to establish a relationship and to create brand equity.

What's your experience? Jim

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