Show, don’t just tell

Day in and day out advertisers talk about getting closer to consumers.

Day in and day out advertisers talk about getting closer to consumers.

Still, here in Quebec, most advertising agencies go about it using the same old methods: a lot of advertising, a little bit of PR, some sampling and some direct marketing.

Not only does this approach lack originality, but most of the time, it’s not effective. Has anybody in the advertising world heard about overcrowding? Does anybody really think people adopted their product because of a great 30-second ad or a spectacular billboard?

I discovered a long time ago that Quebec consumers in particular need to be embraced as individuals. They like to feel considered, to be pampered. You have to give them a moving brand experience. And if you succeed in doing that, they will turn into true brand ambassadors.

Now the name of the game is proximity marketing and it’s all about the consumer and knowing the multiple touch points that will cause him to react emotionally as well as physically to your product.

The formula integrates three complementary disciplines: Events show off the product with intriguing and inviting activities. Promotions build an unforgettable brand experience through entertaining and rewarding offers. And relationship forges solid ties with consumers so you won’t have to sell them anymore – they will become loyal clients.

Just remember that Quebecers are turned on by offers that have no other purpose than to have fun. They don’t want a new kitchen or a student grant. Give them the Las Vegas trip to see Le Cirque du Soleil with $1,000 to spend.

For example, later this spring, we will launch a major proximity operation in Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes for Quebec-based A. Lassonde’s juice brand, Fruité, a product mostly aimed at teens. From April through August, the promotion will appear on seven million bottles of Fruité.

Each purchaser will be encouraged to visit a special Web site to enter the product code to find out if he has won one of 100,000 free downloadable songs from online music retailer Fifty MP3 players will also be given away.

Knowing how attached Quebecers are to their local artists (with constant huge sales to prove it), A. Lassonde is also playing the right note to parents when it tells their music-craving teens that it is better to get their tracks through a legal channel.

Because the kids must go to the Fruité Web site to find out if they’ve won, the interaction will last more than the usual two to three seconds it takes to read a message on a bottle cap.

We will also be sure they find out all about our summer-long Fruité tour at soccer fields and playgrounds where we will provide entertainment (karaoke contest, DJs, etc.) and logistical equipment to organizers, and most of all, make sure all the kids and parents there are totally aware of the Fruité 100K songs promotion.

Another example?

How about the concept we executed for Nokia in late March, which was designed to help the cellphone company take advantage of its sponsorship of the Spin Symposium, a 10-day event held at the Tremblant ski resort.

In this program, which tapped into Quebecers’ love of friends and fun, cellphone users could dial a specific number (77666) to become a member of the Nokia Network, a virtual community. By doing so, each person received – directly on his mobile phone – invitations to special events and private parties, results from each skiing competition and special offers on Nokia products (for more on the Nokia promotion, see ‘Join the party’ on page 15).

These are just two of the many forms proximity marketing can take. We’ve also created an SMS texto dictionary for Rogers AT&T, organized fashion shows for Request Jeans and Zellers and sent a rock band on a point-of-sale tour for Molson.

Don’t get me wrong: Proximity marketing does not replace advertising. You use advertising to tell them, to get noticed, to reach consumers’ minds. But then, you use proximity marketing to show them – and give them an experience they will remember.

Think of it as a matchmaker between your brand and your target: a one-on-one relationship that will transform buyers into true brand ambassadors.

Pierre Parent is president and founder of Montreal’s P2P Proximité Marketing. He can be reached at: