The Marketer’s Guide to Subtlety

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Generally speaking, marketers are not good at being subtle. Subtlety does not always work its way into marketing. And when it does, it is often so subtle that it goes unnoticed and, therefore, underappreciated.

But when marketers know how to use subtlety to their advantage, it can produce powerful results.

Not Subtle

When we think of traditional marketing tactics, it becomes obvious how in your face marketers can be. Consider coupons, sales stickers, loud commercials, scantily clad models, professional spokespeople, and billboards on the side of the road. The list goes on and on. The aim is to capture your full attention away from whatever it is you are doing. And most companies have become very, very good at it.

But that, in itself, is part of the problem. We’ve become so good, as marketers, at getting your attention, that we have turned consumers off of marketing tactics left and right. Now consumers know when they’re being marketed to, and they don’t care for it.

That is where subtlety comes in.

Subtle

There are tools that marketers have in their toolbox that too often go unused.

Consumers are people. And people are predictable. There are ways to craft your messaging or present your offers that will trigger them to act in a certain way. But in order for these tactics to be effective, you have to be confident enough to let them speak for themselves. The minute you try to hit people over the head with your marketing, you’ll turn them off.

The goal is to create marketing that does not feel like marketing at all.

Content fits nicely into this bucket. Content marketing caught in over the last five years or so because it was a way to generate brand awareness that also provided real value to consumers. By teaching them something, or sharing something interesting, you are engaging with your audience in a way that does not feel like you’re trying to sell to them.

Companies today are looking for all the different ways they can accomplish this. Hence the interest in areas like sponsorships, events and experiences, product placement and brand integration, influencer marketing, and more.

The more marketers are able to capture the attention of consumers in subtle ways, the more powerful our marketing actually becomes.