Active Versus Passive Marketing

There are basically two types of marketing: passive and active. Passive marketing is bottom of the barrel marketing where one is simply keeping up with competitors or implementing ideas based on internal pressures. For example, if your CEO asks to increase email channel sales contribution from 5% to 6% and you respond by increasing email messaging frequency by 20% then you are a passive marketer. An active marketer is someone who would take that CEO directive and improve Average Order Value without increasing send frequency.

I was reading an article about the success of the Starbucks app and that story nicely illustrates this point. Let’s look at two scenarios:

Passive scenario: (Made up example) Starbucks launches their app and sends a press release touting the fact that 14 million customers use their Starbucks app every week. This is the so lame, Starbucks has over 100 million customers and if 14 million use the app once a week that means nothing. Basically, the app is leveraging existing demand. If the app created new demand, now that would be impressive.

Active scenario: Starbucks launches their app and sends a press release that talks about how their app uses personalization. Their personalization algorithm uses weather and time of day data to make offers. It could offer a discount for iced coffee when it’s unexpectedly hot outside. Or, if a customer aways gets just one type of coffee the app could make a special offer so the customer can be marketed a higher margin item. This is a great example of active marketing because Starbucks app has taken a situation where the customer might not be actively thinking about getting a Starbucks and nudged them in that direction.

Looked another way, active marketing is when you are able to take a customer who doesn’t want to take an action and gently convince them otherwise.

What type of marketer are you?

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