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Stealth Marketing: Some Insights of it

Sony Ericsson brought a new mobile phone in the market in 2002. At that time, it became one of the first companies that produced such a type of mobile phone. The phone was of a cellular type, and the speciality of it was, it had a digital camera peripheral. The phone was called the T68i.

However, Sony Ericsson knew that this model of their product was absolutely a combination of such novel technologies that almost all of the people belonging to the customer segment didn’t really have any idea how exactly to even use this phone. And, that obviously puts a threat to the way of the product being successful for the brand.

In such a complicated situation, the problem that needed some kind of unconventional method of marketing was finally solved. The marketers of Sony Ericsson did something so amazing that it became one of the most well-known examples of stealth marketing all over the world for a huge period of time. Still, it’s considered to be a revolutionary approach to marketing a product while people, who are being marketed, don’t have any idea what is exactly happening or how they are being persuaded to buy a product or use a service without them knowing it specifically.

We will come back to Sony Ericsson’s marketing tactic later, but at first, let’s have some basic idea about what stealth marketing is.

What is Stealth Marketing?

Stealth marketing refers to a certain type of marketing strategy, that is done without the acknowledgment of the people, who are being marketed to. So, it’s like a company or brand, will launch a product and will start advertising it to you, but will not let you understand how exactly these brands are reaching to you or influencing you to turn people into potential customers of the product.

When we see a TVC, we clearly can visualize the marketing effort that a brand is making. We can understand a product is being advertised when we see it on a billboard. But surprisingly, we won’t be able to identify it when a company is doing stealth marketing to you, because the very concept of this type of marketing is to do without the understanding of those to whom this is being done.

People also call stealth marketing as Buzz Marketing sometimes, since the motive or the main purpose of stealth marketing is to create a buzz about a product. Unlike most other marketing strategies that are done usually, when a company starts doing stealth marketing, it doesn’t really want to increase the sale of a particular product immediately, rather, it wants that, when it will be done with the actions and tactics of stealth marketing, there will be such a massive amount of excitement and and interest about the product that the potential customers will be more receptive when direct marketing strategies will be applied.

Stealth marketing can be done by following many procedures. Among them, product placement and undercover marketing are the most common ones. It doesn’t really matter which specific approach of stealth marketing a company is undertaking, the thing that matters in the context is that this marketing strategy will effectively raise a huge amount of awareness among the people for a product that is comparatively new in the market and hasn’t been marketed widely. 

Stealth Marketing: How Sony Ericsson Was Successful?

What Sony Ericsson brought in the market at that time was something with which most of the people in the world were not at all very familiar with. It was of complicated technology and naturally people would feel very intimidated by it if the marketing strategy was following normal or traditional procedures instead of something creative and astonishing.

So, Sony Ericsson instigated a viral effect using 60 actors in 10 major cities in the world. Those actors presented themselves as common people like tourists, couples etc. in front of the others, and asked strangers in the roads and streets to help them take a picture.

Can you imagine which tool those actors gave the strangers to take the photos? You are absolutely right, it is nothing but the camera phone made by Sony Ericsson.

The actors helped the strangers to get the procedures on how to take a picture by it and also other features of the phone. As a result of doing this campaign, people started talking a lot about the unique experience they had with the new technology, a phone that can also be used as a camera.

Now, if Sony Ericsson didn’t do this amazing unconventional marketing activity, there was a possibility that lots of people would not be very interested in using the phone because of it being a whole new technology based tool about which people have no idea. So, Sony Ericsson at first drew the attention of the mass by using the actors and then proceeded with further marketing activities.

The campaign by Sony Ericsson was largely considered to be a very successful one since the sales of the phone were really high in that year in several countries all over the world.

Users of Stealth Marketing

Those who use stealth marketing, there are lots of varieties out there. Usually companies that can afford to undertake multiple advertising initiatives for marketing a product are more likely to use stealth marketing.

Big companies use stealth marketing so that they can initially create a buzz among the customers and let them know that something big, something new is coming. Once the hype is created, they start making other types of marketing moves after releasing a product, and since they were already able to get the attention of the mass, the chances of the later marketing tactics to be successful get increased.

However, it’s not like big corporations are the only ones to use stealth marketing, the smaller companies might also get involved in stealth marketing as well. Even they can use non traditional marketing campaigns at all and rather use stealth marketing without extensive marketing resources to raise awareness of a product.

Fashion entrepreneur Daymond John’s first campaign for the FUBU clothing line can be considered in this scenario. Since he had no operating budget at all then and also was unable to access any kind of traditional marketing strategies, he requested hip hop stars Run DMC and LL Cool to wear FUBU clothing during concerts and appearances on MTV.  By doing it, Daymond John was successful to gain a huge audience and the campaign of stealth marketing was also successful.

Stealth Marketing: The Risk

Before you dive into stealth marketing stuff, you should know the fact that it’s really not totally risk-free. Sometimes it’s possible that backlash arises, instead of the expected amount of positive customer attention or awareness regarding the product. Mainly it happens when the customers get to know about the fact that they are being marketed before they are supposed to know it. By being aware of stealth marketing of a product too soon, the customers might not react the way you expect them to, so you better keep that under consideration.

Creating a Stealth Marketing Strategy

Now that you have a basic idea about stealth marketing, it’s time to start crafting your own stealth marketing campaigns. However, there are some very common steps that you might want to follow before initiating the campaign.

First of all, just like the other types of marketing strategies, you must have a clear view and idea about your customer, who they are, in which platform they are most active, which mode of communication they are most familiar with etc., these are the information that you need to know about your customer so that you can move on further, so the first task is to start collecting all the necessary data to draw a picture of your customer demographic.

Once you are done with the collection of the data, now you have got to start thinking about what type of content you are going to provide to your customer or what type of product placement scenario you are going to design so that you customer can get to know about your product. Find out what is the most appropriate way to introduce the product to the consumers and raise a massive amount of awareness in this process.

Stealth marketing is a strategy that can go on with its own or you might want to create it as a foundation of other marketing campaigns for the product.

Advantages of Stealth Marketing

Stealth marketing might seem a bit risky sometimes, but no one can ignore all the positive outcomes it brings with the risk being undertaken:

  • Creation of Pre-launch Interest for the Product

If done appropriately, stealth marketing is supposed to create a massive buzz about a particular product before it is even launched. In those cases, the customers literally get impatient about the product and the moment it gets released, people start hurrying to the shops to buy it as soon as possible. However, the marketers need to be careful enough to design the campaign in such a way so that the buzz continues for a specific amount of time.

  • Promotion of the product without Advertisement

Stealth marketing is not about traditional advertisements of products, which is not even that much effective nowadays, considering the fact that people often ignore these types of marketing activities. Stealth marketing, on the other hand, is unique and presented unconventionally, that is more likely to draw the attention of the consumers and make them bring others to the market as potential buyers of the product. 

  • Cost Efficiency

For stealth marketing campaigns or activities, the use of studios, posh locations, extraordinary background and all the other expensive stuff are not needed, it can be done with far less budget and yet it can generate high value and strong customer base.

Final Words

Whether stealth marketing is going to be your next marketing tactic depends on you. Just remember the fact that by being intelligent enough in the field of marketing and considering the risk factors carefully, it’s possible to gain extraordinary results by doing stealth marketing of your product. Brands like Mini Cooper, FedEx, Blackberry, Walmart, Starbucks, Sunsilk and many more were able to receive the sweet result of stealth marketing, why won’t you be the next one?

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