What we can learn from Micro-Marketing

Design for maximum resonance rather than for maximum exposure.
Clever brands are recognizing that you can't please everyone - so they’re exploring strategies to develop campaigns designed to reach a smaller target audiences in thoughtful and unique ways – through the use of hyper-local out-of home advertising, creative ad space, and niche communities. These hyper-targeted campaigns are particularly successful in building authentic breakthrough communication with a brand's audience.

Reconsider the spray & pray model
Advertising designed to reach and appeal to the greatest number of people is less effective with younger consumers who have grown up bombarded with OOH, television, digital, and now mobile advertising.

Studies show that when faced with generic marketing online materials like pop-up ads or email communications, Millennials often choose to disengage entirely from the brand serving the content. In fact, the number of young people blocking traditional ads grew in 2017 to encompass 86.6m users. 46% of US Millennials currently have a desktop ad blocker installed and 31% reported using mobile ad blocking software. (2016, Anatomy Media)

Social media isn’t always the place to convert sales
When it comes to ROI, understanding that social media isn't always the place to convert sales is still a mindset marketers need to embrace.

"I think at the moment, when it comes to Instagram, the smart brands aren't looking at it as a purchase activation channel. It's much more about brand discovery and engagement, which strongly supports purchase decisions further down the line.” 

- Mats Stigzelius, founder of UK-based influencer app Takumi

Looking to expand your campaign message to an audience that’s more engaged? Look no further than micro-influencers.
Ad campaigns featuring Micro-influencers drive more conversion than those starring celebrities, with the most influential influence platform being Instagram. 

  • Small but powerful: micro-influencers have a smaller Instagram following (around 1,000 to 100,000) but a far more engaged audience than larger influencers.

  • Benefits to brands: micro-influencers are less costly than celebrity influencers and present a more authentic and relatable social media story

  • Effectiveness: ROI can be measured by calculating engagement levels. Brands must realize that the purpose of social media is not always to drive sales.

Image:  localwanderer
Image:  Seamless

Image: Seamless

Take a page from smaller brands.   
Smaller independent brands, most of whom have been priced out of traditional television or billboard advertising have turned to scaled-down campaigns and Millennial friendly activations. Their approach is a testament to the power of advertising designed for maximum resonance rather than for maximum exposure. 

Seamless, the food delivery app has been using localized messaging in its out-of-home advertising since 2015. The campaign, “How New York Eats”, created a sense of identification amongst city-dwellers who saw themselves in the ad copy. On New York City subways, ads carried clever messages such as “Avoid cooking like you avoid Times Square” or “You’ll cook when you’re dead – or living in Westchester”. For tourists or newcomers to the city the ads might not resonate or even make sense, but for a local it feels like an inside joke and a nod to a shared experience.

They created spots that aired on New York-area TV channels, highlighting the diversity and convenience of food delivery options throughout New York’s five boroughs with a commercial inspired by the struggle to get a table at the city's most popular restaurants.

The magic of these ads is that they tap into the niche pride of the communities the brand serves. The messages are based on intimate truths of the audience, and that’s what breaks through traditional clutter.

Image:  Glossier

Image: Glossier

Glossier, the direct-to-consumer brand, believes that social media should drive the relationship with the consumer. They engage their hardcore base of fans through their content arm. For its most successful launch to date - the brand deliberately did not send any product to influencers, instead gifting it to 500 superfans who had previously bought the most products or were the most engaged. According to Glossier’s COO Henry Davis, “Customer is at the heart of product development, customer is at the heart of strategy and customer is at the heart of the sale.”

“When your friend says, ‘you have to try this thing’, you listen. You cannot buy that much goodwill with all the advertising and the best creatives in the world. That’s what we’re focused on.”

- Henry Davis, COO of Glossier

These examples show that micro-marketing will likely alienate some consumers, but that’s all part of the plan. Those who respond positively to the hyper-focused attention will feel like they are being understood by a brand, rather than pandered to. That’s when brands break through. 

Sources: WGSN: Micro Marketing: US Strategies, Micro-Influencers: A Goldmine for Marketers


How to apply this approach to your own marketing?

  • Dial in to shared mindsets, and situations vs. diverse demographics.

  • Propose unique ad placements that target and celebrate audiences that share something in common.

  • When partnering with a micro-influencer, look for the common aesthetic and shared values within their niche community of followers – to inform your creative strategy.

  • As a creative exercise: Try developing a concept that begins with where/when the ad runs – to inform it’s messaging – rather than the other way around.