Slipstream Marketing

Slipstreaming is the art of getting behind someone or something else in order to conserve your own power and drive yourself further. For instance, if you drive down the highway directly behind a vehicle that is bigger than yours you will use a lot less power.

That’s why migrating birds like ducks for instance, fly in formation. It is claimed they can fly eighty percent further this way than they could on their own. “The slipstream of a moving object is a region of reduced pressure or even suction (negative pressure), exerted in the neighbourhood of the object and in the direction of its movement and caused by its movement through a medium. The term ‘slipstreaming’ is most often used in relation to objects moving through air, although not necessarily flying. If a following object moving at the same speed can position itself within the slipstream, it will require less energy to maintain its speed than if it was moving independently, because the front object blocks a significant amount of air resistance. So ends the science lesson!

Why am I telling you all this and how could it possibly relate to your self storage business? You can use this exact same principle to slipstream your marketing and promotional efforts through a method known as slipstream marketing.

In simple terms, slipstream marketing is the gentle art of positioning your business behind somebody else’s promotional efforts, publicity or event to give your own marketing efforts greater power. One good example of this is a campaign that ran for the well-known car rental firm Avis which used the phrase “we’re number two, so we try harder!” Avis positioned itself behind the market leader and established a powerful psychological alignment. Instead of working to displace what is on top of people’s’ minds, you can tie yourself to it and harness it, rather than trying to oppose its momentum. Anything that has captured the public’s attention is a candidate to slipstream – not just market leaders or big business. Celebrities and events of all kinds are hot candidates for slipstream marketing. Even sporting events.

For instance when I was National Marketing manager for the electronics firm Sharp, I staged a slipstream marketing coup based on AFL football. There was a player around at the time that looked like breaking the long-standing record for the greatest number of goals kicked in a season. It was the talk of the town, especially in the states that keenly followed AFL. We offered a prize of $100 000 to be split between the player and his favourite charity if he could break the record. This immediately generated a huge amount of publicity in the local media. But here’s the really tricky part… Unbeknown to the media and the public, I took the odds on him breaking the record, which was something like 25 to one, and insured our loss for a paltry $4000. So, we not only slipstreamed a major topical event – with a little creative thinking – we did it for a fraction of the cost. We effectively achieved a $100 000 promotion for $4000.

People I knew used to say to me, “I bet you’re hoping and praying that he doesn’t do it!” Little did they know, I was actually hoping and praying that he did, because this would have generated even greater publicity at no further expense! Just for the record, unfortunately he didn’t manage it.

So how could your storage business benefit from slipstream marketing? There is an endless variety of things you can slipstream: personalities, icons, slogans, music, advertisements, news events, pop culture phenomena, movies, television shows, commercials and sporting events just to name a few. Piggy back onto anything that’s controversial, topical or in the news. The opportunities are all around you. All it takes is a little imagination and some creative thinking.

Peter Thorpe
Peter Thorpe

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