What is Invitational Marketing?

What is Invitational Marketing?

About Invitational Marketing and Why I Love It.

Many people are reluctant to actively market themselves or their businesses online because the relate marketing to things like hidden checkboxes and spam emails, an unwelcome part of most user experiences.  And they do not want to be responsible for inflicting that annoyance on others.  But in reality, it's one's own choice how 'slimy' of an approach to take.

The answer to I'm afraid of marketing because I don't want to be a creeper... is not Don't market your business... but rather Use an approach that is based on integrity and excellent user experience...

When I ran across this article all about a term I had never heard of Invitational Marketing and I thought YES,  this really speaks to me and my ethics.

My User Experience Reading the Invitational Marketing Article.

Invitational Marketing is a term coined by vice president of Advertising and Online Microsoft Europe Andy Hart. In his Huff Post Article titled Invitational Marketing - The Future of Advertising, Hart elaborates on the basic principals of his ideas that define what he calls Invitational Marketing.

  1. Seamless experience - the marketing campaign is integrated with the experience itself, operating through direct engagement rather than distraction.
  2. Imminent Value - the marketing campaign provides value that relates to the extant user experience.
  3. Self-determination - the marketing experience celebrates greater levels of transparency and information such that consumers better understand the value proposition of the advertisement.

He touches on the creepiness of big data and how an excellent user experience can benefit sales and brand loyalty.  And all is well, I am really enjoying this concept...But wait, oh no!  The platform that Hart has used to publish his work, Huffington Post, is the antithesis of his statement!  To read the article, I was not just prompted, but rather string armed into accepting a vague but lengthy agreement for them to spy on me.  Then, as I read the article, video popups galore begged for my attention.

Huff Post - Please Spy on Me

Readers can not read article without giving consent to being spied on.

Huff Post Terms

Privacy controls are not controls or options, just a bunch of confusing bulls#!t.

Video Popups Huff Post

Then comes an annoying video popup.

I love the idea of Invitational Marketing, and only lament that it wasn't shared in a way that better reflects it's ideals.  But I can't really hold that against Hart, after all he's just trying to get his idea out there.  It's really on Huff Post to back off with their adds and spying.

What Would Krug Say?

I often think of good 'ol Steve Krug, author of the popular User Experience book Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability.  He sees himself as a Website User liaison similar to how Dr. Seuss' Lorax speaks for the trees, he is a UX guy who speaks for users.

UX folks are all focused on creating a great experience, after all it's their job.  And that strikes a chord similar to that of Hart's Invitation Marketing Manifesto.  But Krug does resign to the fact that sometimes a company may want to go against user experience as a business decision.  For instance, popups are a commonly used tactic, but also universally understood as annoying on the receiving end.  But by knowing what your users want and aiming towards that in your popups might be able to offset the offense.

Good User Experience is Good Business.

Thank you Andy Harts for your contribution to corporate advertising thought leadership by creating the concept of invitational marketing.  I hope to see more businesses embrace your ideas in years to come.

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