Flash Mobbing: Marketing a New Way to Old Customers

Within marketing circles around the globe there has been a tremendous amount of attention directed at a relatively new form of marketing being labeled flash mobbing. Not only is this marketing model raising eyebrows but it’s also making a lot of people successful beyond belief.

But first I would like to point out that although this form of marketing is often referred to as flash mobbing, it currently is nameless and is the result of a mixture of two different marketing strategies.

Originally named tuangou, the system was first developed in mainland China where buyers would organize and approach vendors in order to negotiate bulk prices rather than paying full retail as is the case with individual purchasing. Group buying was created!

Since inception, collective buying power has been exploited, not only in China (800+ group buying sites) but also in North America where marketing experts are just now beginning to see the potential of this trending marketing model.

Despite how obscure they are from one another, the name was changed from tuangou to the much more pretentious name of flash mobbing. None the less this is what mainstream media has chosen to label tuangou.

The true definition of flash mobbing is when a coordinated group of individuals suddenly assemble in a public location, perform an unusual or pointless act, and then disperse.

Probably the most publicized example of flash mob advertising is the Oprah Winfrey Show when she organized a downtown Chicago concert with the Black Eyed Peas. A short time in to their runaway hit single, “I Got a Feeling”, previously organized groups strategically planted within the audience began to perform synchronized dance moves. As the song progressed, like a chain reaction, the entire crowd of some 20,000 people, all danced in synchronicity with one another.

You are probably wondering how tuangou, the art of collective buying, became flash mobbing? As do I.

A hybrid version of the two has begun to sweep the nation. With group buy sites popping up everywhere, the world is warming up nicely to the concept of collective buying. Not to mention saving loads and loads of money in the meantime. However,how is it that these two seemingly different aspects of marketing can unite in to one of the most intuitive marketing methods in recent time? Let’s find out.

In the case of “group buy” sites like Groupon and TeamBuy, we are seeing a complimentary blend of tuangou and flash mobbing. The backbone of their marketing models rely on the tuangou system for buying power while exploiting the social web in true “flash mob” fashion. How this is done is where the true genius lies.

Without numbers (ie:group) the model falls apart. So how do they create the buzz for buyers to unite and in turn make collective buying viable? Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. With these sites in their corner, and rapid accessibility for their buyers, they in turn create a monolithic word of mouth marketing machine that automates the otherwise tedious task of mainstream marketing avenues all while spending minimal in expenditures. If I told you that I could save you thousands of marketing dollars and eliminate your need for radio or print ads…might this not get your attention? Essentially this reduces the cost of customer acquisition significantly for manufacturers and service providers. Clearly this is the bait most CEOs are enticed by.

Broken down further it looks like this:

tuangou = collective buying

flash mob = buzz or word of mouth advertising

The combination of the two, if applied correctly, is an ideal marketing model with the highest possible conversion numbers of any other marketing method. As all businesses compete in this rapidly changing world, we must discover new and intuitive ways to market our goods and services. Like Stuart H. Britt once said,

For a business not to advertise is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but no one else does.

With growing popularity and increased conversions, one might be so bold as to say that we are witnessing the transformation of how marketing may change for 2011 and in to the future.

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