Let’s talk for a minute about the uphill battle that is marketing in a world in which most people are overwhelmed by the amount of media intake in their daily life. The fight to be heard clearly and cleanly over the din of the clamoring hordes of… you know what, I’m just going to stop these terrible comparative sentences right now. We all read the title. The subject today: marketing warriors. There are several skill levels and approaches to take to marketing, so let’s get right to it.
Ninjas are getting a lot of press these days. Just recently I purchased some Ninja Squirrel hot sauce with a cartoon squirrel wielding two hot peppers, and then came home to watch a viral video of a young lady performing most impressively on American Ninja Warrior. But, the popular ninja-loving crazes aside, what does this mean? Ninjas were covert agents whose occupation included infiltration, assassination and other such activities. The ability to move through the world without being seen led to many a myth about their powers of invisibility, flight or control of the elements. Ninja marketing is to be so effortless that nobody ever knew you were marketing.
Ninja marketing is providing value beyond your service or offering that creates stronger customer bonds. It is a presence that is not advertised, but gets noticed anyway. After Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey, I got several emails from PNC Bank regarding the suspension of various types of charges, fees and deadlines all related to the fact that those dealing with the aftermath of a massive hurricane wouldn’t perhaps be up on their banking. They weren’t marketing in that moment; being based out of a neighboring state with a large presence in NJ, they were likely themselves affected. What was notable was that a bank was saying, “Hey guys, don’t worry about anything this week. Let’s all recover and get back to business next week.” Those may not have been email newsletters with a crafty call to action, but the ninja side effect was that I felt good about this bank, about who they were, and how they would treat me in the future. Sounds like marketing, eh?
Samurai training is in stark contrast to ninja training. Samurais were members of the warrior class who usually served nobility. The training was one that espoused a strict code of conduct. Honor and loyalty are espoused above all else in this well-educated class of warriors. In other words, a samurai isn’t going to sneak up on you. They are going to announce themselves and follow the rules. Samurai marketing is an effective and artful display of skill and finesse.
People notice samurai marketing. What’s more, they talk about it and appreciate it. When I ordered Method cleaning supplies online for the first time and looked through the catalogue they included, I was incredibly charmed by their writing style. What’s more, when they joked about floors so good you could eat off of them, they weren’t kidding. There were recipes, based on flooring type. Art, I tell you. It’s been six years, and I still remember that.
MMA is obviously much newer on the scene then either of our two previous fighting styles. MMA is mixed martial arts fighting, a form that combines striking and grappling forms both standing and on the ground. That is to say, rather than hone a single set of skills, MMA is all about finding the perfect technique for each moment of the fight. This is sheer force of will turned into muscle inside of a ring. MMA marketing meets you at every turn. Unless you’re not feeling it, in which case you just got punched in the face by marketing. By any means necessary, MMA gets the point across, lands the desired blow, and wins the match.
My favorite example of marketing that meets you at every turn (literally, in fact) would be Wall Drug. If you’ve ever driven through South Dakota or any nearby state with a highway heading to South Dakota, you’ve seen these signs. They are everywhere. For hundreds of miles all around, there are signs promising everything from shopping to food to dinosaurs to famous free ice water. Some are funny, some factual, others artistic. Now, they have just about everything in there and you’ll know that before you get there. And, if you’ve driven by, like millions of others who somehow find themselves in this tiny remote town, you probably stopped. To quote Bill Bryson, “It’s an awful place, one of the world’s worst tourist traps, but I loved it and I won’t have a word said against it.” And so it goes. There’s very little subtle about this kind of marketing, but by being present, persistent and varied, it sure does work.