Last Updated: November 28, 2020
Modern technology has made it simple to avoid advertisements. A report by marketing research firm YouGov suggests that up to 90% of DVR users skip through television ads when watching pre-recorded shows, while easy-to-find programs allow users to block all or most advertisements that appear on the Internet. The widespread use of MP3 players means that fewer people than ever are listening to the radio as they drive.
This presents a huge problem for marketers spending the majority of their efforts on traditional forms of marketing. If a large segment of the population is not only unconvinced by a marketer’s message, but actively trying to ignore it, that ad will fail.
Today’s marketers must think outside of the box to find new and creative ways to present ads to customers. Hoping to buck more traditional advertising methods, marketers are using more innovative marketing strategies to connect with customers who have grown cynical to advertising.
What is street marketing?
The goal of street marketing is to use nontraditional methods and advertising spaces to earn a greater amount of attention for an ad campaign. Unlike guerrilla marketing that can take place online, street marketing is confined to the street and other public places (See also Guerrilla Marketing).
Marketers have struggled to find new ways to connect with customers as the effectiveness of traditional marketing has declined. Street marketing takes advantage of this phenomenon by placing ads in spots where people would not expect to see advertising. A person expects to see billboards when they look up at the sky — they do not expect to see an ad for Roto-Rooter when they look down at a manhole cover. The billboard can be common and dismissible, while the manhole cover is so unexpected that viewers not only see it, they will take an extra moment to read the ad and enjoy the novelty of it.
Street Marketing Locations
- Bus stops
- Park benches
- Light poles
- Manhole covers
- Lobby floors
- Sewer drains
- Sides of cars and buses
- Projected onto buildings
- 3D objects in public squares
- Shopping carts
- Public transportation
Static ads are not the only form that street marketing takes. Many companies employ teams of young and enthusiastic brand ambassadors who hand out samples and coupons, answer questions, and reinforce brand images. Giving customers a chance to interact with products and brands makes a stronger impact on their purchasing decisions than passive advertising. (See also B2P Marketing)
The only major disadvantage of street marketing is that it can be difficult to plan and implement a successful street marketing campaignl. First, a marketer must find a truly unique idea. Then they need to make sure that the marketing message is seen and understood by the maximum number of people. If the ad is too obscure or abstract, the effect will be lost on viewers.
Examples of street marketing
- Match.com – The online dating site sent a man dressed as a prince to a large book fair in Madrid. He walked around holding a glass slipper trying to find his “true love.” An assistant behind him handed out bookmarks saying “You have been reading love stories all your life; experience yours on Match.com”
- Frontline – The flea medication maker placed a very large image of a dog on the lobby floor of a building with an atrium. When the image was observed from above, the people walking across the lobby resembled fleas on the dog. Frontline’s name and slogan were displayed prominently.
- Quit – A campaign from the Australian government to encourage smoking cessation placed large, detailed images of eyeballs around the rims of trash cans. It is common for smokers to stub out their cigarette on the rim before throwing away the butt. As they ground their cigarette into the eye they saw the phrase “Smoking causes blindness.”
- ESPN – The sports network placed miniature models of a soccer ball and a goal at the bottom of urinals to promote their coverage of international soccer with a male audience.
- Volkswagon – The car maker placed signs designed to look like thought bubbles above each spot in a parking garage. The signs were designed to make the parked cars look like they were thinking. The signs showed a picture of a new Volkswagen model and featured the slogan “I wish I were a new GTL.”
- Unicef – The international charity placed a baby carriage in the center of a public square on a cold winter day. Passersby, concerned that there may be a baby inside, approached the stroller and pulled back the baby blanket. Underneath was the slogan “Be a mom for a moment” and information about how to donate to Unicef.
Who implements street marketing campaigns?
Street marketing strategies are available to a variety of businesses. Since it is low cost and limited only by a marketer’s ambition and creativity, street marketing is available to businesses willing to put in the effort. In fact, the earliest street marketing campaigns were carried out by small businesses hoping to differentiate themselves from major marketers. Imagine a small coffee shop that creates elaborate chalk drawings in front of their door, making creative use of their resources to advertise in an unexpected way.
Larger and more spectacular street marketing campaigns are typically limited to bigger companies. Most of these sell consumer products with a mass appeal. A company that makes agricultural equipment would have no reason to market their products on the streets of New York because they would be irrelevant to most viewers. Larger companies have the budgets and marketing expertise necessary to buy nontraditional advertising space, engineer public spectacles, and create accompanying digital components. These larger corporations are also more often closely associated with traditional advertising methods, meaning that they have more to gain from breaking out of this mold.
Money Spent on Street Marketing
The chart below, based on data from P2 Media, shows the growth of alternative ambient advertising over a 6 year period. This is a subset of a much larger form of marketing called out of home advertising. Most street marketing campaigns will fall under the category of alternative ambient advertising. The chart clearly shows that the use of this kind of marketing is on the rise. But it is important to remember that hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on advertising every year. Street marketing is still one of the least used forms of advertising.
How is a street marketing plan developed?
Companies should develop data about themselves, their products, their competitors, and their customers before implementing a street marketing plan. When looking at themselves, they must identify how they are seen in the marketplace, what the most appealing features of their new products are, and how they want to position them in the marketplace.
It is important to know who their major competitors are, how their products compare, and where they advertise. They must also identify the customers they want to target and then discover out where they gather and what they want, allowing them to establish goals and opportunities associated with the campaign.
Brand managers, graphic designers, and production designers will work together to design and build the actual ads. Since the goal of street marketing is to create experiences that defy the expectations for advertising, creative developers must think carefully about how to stand out in the marketing landscape. The marketing plan should clearly spell out the logic behind the ads and their intended effects on the viewer.
Once the ads are created, it will be necessary to negotiate deals to rent ad space. Marketing buyers will need to negotiate deals and make sure that all the terms and conditions are clearly spelled out so that neither party is caught unaware. If the plan involves a street team, the marketer will need to make sure that they are allowed to send in representatives and hand out free products. This type of behavior is prohibited in many public and private spaces. (See also Outdoor Marketing)
The final step of the campaign will be to evaluate its success. During the planning phase, businesses identify a number of goals that may be measured in quantifiable numbers. The goal could be as simple as increasing sales or as nuanced as driving traffic to a particular website. As the plan moves forward, goals should be evaluated at regular intervals. If it is not producing the intended results, then the plan must be revised or abandoned entirely.
Careers in street marketing
Street Team Member
What do they do?
Average Salaries of Street Marketing
- Street team member
entry level – $10,000-$30,000
after 10 years – $30,000-$50,000
- Production designer
entry level – $35,000-$50,000
after 10 years – $50,000-$80,000
- Social media marketing manager
entry level – $50,000-$70,000
after 10 years – $80,000-$120,000
Street team members are brand ambassadors who hit the streets to hand out products, distribute ad messages, engage with customers, and serve as the public face of a brand. This is typically an entry-level marketing job that is available to students, part-timers, and inexperienced marketers.
Education and Skills
A degree in marketing is not necessary to be a street team member, but it can be helpful. Team members will need to understand the brand image the company is trying to push and how they can best embody that. Street team members will need to be naturally outgoing and charismatic in order to connect with customers
What do they do?
Production designers create signage and other visual advertising. Since street marketing often uses unusual ads in unusual places, it is necessary to consult an experienced builder to ensure that the ads have their intended effect. They have to fit their environment, stand up to the weather, and withstand touching and prodding from viewers.
Education and Skills
Production designers don’t need to have degrees in marketing. They are more concerned with the logistics of building a sign than the marketing message it contains. Many enter the field after getting degrees in engineering or graphic design. They will need to know how to use drafting software, work with unusual materials, and follow building codes.
Social Media Marketing Manager
What do they do?
Social media marketing managers oversee a company’s marketing efforts on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and other social media sites. Street marketing is often used to direct customers to a company’s online presence. A cleverly displayed URL or a flier with an online only coupon are practical ways to grab people off the street and drive them to a specific place on the web. Marketing managers will find ways to use display ads and street teams to help boost social media activity.
Education and Skills
All social media marketing managers will need to have a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Many have a specialization in digital and new media marketing. Extensive personal experience using social networks is necessary to use them effectively and stay ahead of the curve of change.
How can a marketing school help you succeed?
Our Recommended Schools
Street marketing combines pictures, text, sounds, smells, and interactive experiences in its effort to reach customers. By and large, street marketers are limited only by their imagination and their ability to creatively use the tools and the spaces that are available to them. These skills don’t come naturally to most people, and require training from marketing degree programs to implement properly.
The classes offered in marketing departments teach students the fundamentals they need to start designing ad campaigns of their own. New marketers will learn how to analyze the market, design ads, rent ad spaces, and hire street teams. It is only after marketers understand the strategies of traditional marketing that they can begin to break away from them. A degree in marketing provides all the background marketers will need to start taking their message to the streets.