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Integrated Marketing Association

Reverse Marketing

Reverse marketing refers to the idea of prompting potential customers to seek out a brand or business on their own, as opposed to businesses advertising their products or services to targeted consumer groups. Generally, reverse marketing campaigns look quite like traditional ad campaigns, making use of television commercials, and print and online ads to convey their message. The difference with reverse marketing lies in the focus on motivating customers to contact businesses that will sell the product or service to them, rather than locating and actively targeting a specific subset or type of customer.

Reverse marketing offers benefits to traditional marketers who are reaching out to consumers, but it is also very useful in business-to-business (B2B) marketing. In this type of strategy, reverse marketing prompts a business to make initial contact with a supplier or manufacturer regarding its product or service needs. Reverse marketing also helps businesses manage their supply chain by reducing repetition and lowering associated costs.

Essentially, there are two different applications for targeted reverse marketing campaigns – those targeted at consumers and those targeted at suppliers or manufacturers. Campaigns that target consumers employ reverse marketing strategies to motivate consumers to seek them out. One example of a company successfully using this approach is Dove. The brand’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” debuted in 2004 and centered on celebrating women’s natural beauty, as opposed to specifically advertising Dove’s product line. Since the campaign’s initial success, Dove has reinvented its brand based on this approach. Another famous reverse marketing campaign is Patagonia’s “Don’t buy this Jacket” advertisement on Cyber Monday in 2011. The don’t buy this jacket campaign was part of a larger strategy to get consumers thinking twice before making a purchase which positioned the company as more concerned about the environment and sustainability. This reverse marketing tactic had a huge impact on their targeted audience which enjoyed the outdoors and was concerned about the health of the global environment.

Progressive insurance proudly promotes the prices of their competitors when quoting insurance services clearly stating they might not be the cheapest but they are the best option for the consumer.

Reverse marketing campaigns that target manufacturers or suppliers, on the other hand, focus on encouraging suppliers to lower costs to motivate distributors to purchase from them. WalMart is a high-profile example of a business that aggressively reaches out to suppliers that offer specific products at cheaper prices than their competitors.

Creating a reverse marketing strategy or plan starts with understanding how your brand is perceived by your target audience as well as their values.  In the case of Progressive Insurance, they knew their customers were skeptical and didn’t trust large insurance companies. While many marketers and business executives would shy away from sharing information about the pricing of other insurance companies, especially if those companies were cheaper, it helped Progressive establish trust and credibility.

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