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Creating a Last Impression with Ambient Marketing

Posted Tuesday, May 8, 2012, at 6:56 PM

Ambient marketing, an underutilized form of guerrilla marketing, aims to catch the attention of prospective customers in nontraditional locations while in a place and at a time when they are most open to considering what you're offering.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect to ambient marketing is identifying nontraditional locations -- what's nontraditional today could be mainstream tomorrow. This is why this style of guerrilla marketing is underutilized. It requires a brand to regularly reinvent its marketing strategies.

The most successful ambient campaigns are often in pervasive and ubiquitous environments, stopping the public in its tracks and creating a last impression they feel compelled to share with others.

The higher the level of audience involvement, the better. The more unusual the campaign, the more time the average consumer is willing to invest in it. And once they've invested time to understand it, their openness to consider what you're selling increases exponentially.

The way in which consumers discover your campaign also impacts its effectiveness. When they feel like they've "stumbled across it," they are more likely to connect to your brand and tell others.

Spar Restaurant in Mumbai deployed an ambient strategy to promote its Seafood Festival. The restaurant scattered realistic-looking, yet oversized, plastic clamshells on the local beach. Consumers engaged with the campaign by opening the shells, finding a flier promoting the restaurant's seafood festival inside.

The campaign utilized an unexpected messaging location, creatively engaged consumers, and formed a memorable impression. Most importantly, the restaurant spoke to consumers at a time when they were likely open to seafood -- the real secret to ambient marketing.

The American Red Cross launched a brilliantly simple ambient campaign to encourage large numbers of new donors to make small donations -- mere change, in fact. The challenge was in determining how to best solicit the public for pocket change, ideally at a time when it's actually in their hands.

Other than the typical "ask" for donations you see next to retail checkout stands across America -- which is highly expected and therefore practically ignored -- the Red Cross utilized the fact that travelers have their change out when passing through airport security.

In partnership with the airport authority, the organization replaced the nondescript grey bins with brightly colored Red Cross branded versions featuring two compartments -- a large section for the traveler's personal belongings and a smaller slot labeled "Your change is welcome here. Donate it."

It's an easy ask that doesn't require travelers to think too hard before making a donation. The campaign was engaging and the donation process was simple. Most notably, the Red Cross targeted travelers at a time when they're thinking about their pocket change.

In a marketplace where your prospective customers are flooded with more messages than they can possibly digest, standing out from the crowd can pay big dividends.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing in Memphis, TN. www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).

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Lori Turner-Wilson
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Lori spent over 15 years leading corporate marketing and communications divisions in the financial services, hospitality and franchise restaurant sectors. As Director of Target Marketing for the Hampton Hotels brand of Hilton Hotels Corporation, Lori managed promotional, direct and Web marketing, as well as custom publishing, for the brand's franchise system. In her role as Vice President of Employee Communications and Development for First Horizon National Corporation, she managed the corporation's internal culture initiatives, communications, and employee recognition programs. Other positions held include Sr. Communications Director/Corporate Editor for TCBY Enterprises, Inc., and Vice President of Marketing for First National Banking Company. Lori is a founding sponsor and member of the Board of Directors for LaunchMemphis -- an organization committed to developing an entrepreneurial community in Memphis comprised of investors, entrepreneurs and local organizations. In addition, Lori is on the Board of Directors of the Sales and Marketing Society of the Mid-South and on the Advisory Board for the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County. She is a sought-after speaker in the Memphis area, delivering sales and marketing keynote addresses and workshops to organizations like: the Memphis Chapter of the American Advertising Federation, the Sales & Marketing Society of the Mid-South, LaunchMemphis, EmergeMemphis, the Memphis Regional Chamber, the National Association of Women Business Owners, and the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International. Lori holds a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in addition to having completed the University of Colorado's School of Bank Marketing and Management. She is the recipient of numerous industry awards including local and district Addy's, Communicator awards, and a Telly. She received recognition as one of the Memphis Business Journal's "Top 40 Under 40" recipients in 2009. Lori also served as a contributing ghost writer for the renowned "Complete Idiot's Guide to Guerilla Marketing." Beyond her passions for marketing and dogs of all shapes and sizes, Lori is an avid traveler, runner and foodie.