Earlier today I was at the Atlanta Zoo with my little kids. We were at the playground area on the right just past the entrance hanging out on the short climbing wall. Five minutes in, the little train comes around the corner and proceeds to honk its horn several times. Naturally, all the little kids stop and wave as the train moves by followed promptly with asking their parents if they could ride the train. Was the train honking its horn with the kids there subtle marketing, general train conductor behavior, or both?
In Atlanta there are a number of burrito places around town including Chipotle, Moe’s, and Willy’s. When I ask my son which one is his favorite (we frequent them all) he always says Moe’s. I ask him if the burritos are better — nope. I ask him if the chips are better — nope. I ask him why he likes it the best and he says he doesn’t know why. My theory why he likes it the best is that when he walks in the door the Moe’s employees always say “Welcome to Moe’s” and that enthusiastic greeting sets the tone for the rest of the experience. It’s subtle marketing that’s effective.
The next time an experience puts a smile on your face or nudges you towards a buying event, ask yourself if the marketing was overt or subtle — it might just surprise you. Subtle marketing is some of the most effective marketing.
What else? What are some other examples of subtle marketing that’s effective?