stealth2If you’re piloting a jet fighter and need to avoid detection on enemy radar screens, then “stealth” is a wholly positive attribute. However, if you’re trying to sell a product or service to your market, you can’t be stealthy and successful at the same time. Yet occasionally, companies get into a mode we call stealth marketing.

Stealth marketing is characterized by a hesitancy on the part of marketers to promote their wares too boldly — due to lack of confidence, lack of appropriate resources, or fear of tipping their hand to the competition. It’s a marketing communications program constrained by fears and evidenced by not wanting to give “too much information” to “too many people.”

The sales force can’t do it all

Stealth marketing sometimes happens in sales-driven organizations or companies with strong distribution. In these businesses, a common strategy for trying to convey new product news or increase sales is to simply make more sales calls. But this approach fails to broadcast your product message widely and loudly — it’s only going to be detected by a few select prospects.

Stealth marketing can also happen in organizations with a history of sporadic marketing surges that yielded disappointing results. Never mind that past marketing efforts may have been aimed at the wrong audience, with the wrong message, delivered in the wrong medium, too few times. If marketing “didn’t work” before, then future efforts may be doomed by an over-cautious approach: “We’ll try a little advertising (or public relations or direct mail), but not too much, because it might not work.”

The usual result of a too-timid marketing campaign or an over-reliance on sales and distribution, is disappointing sales numbers. That’s because not enough of the right people learn about the product quickly enough. And, unfortunately, this often leaves an opening for the competition.

Getting back on radar

The only way to make marketing communications work effectively is to get and keep your product on the radar screen of potential customers. That means:

  • Communicating creatively, effectively and frequently with the proper audiences.
  • Doing it aggressively enough to “preempt” a competitive counter strike.

For more information on getting your marcomm program out of stealth mode, contact smcpherson@cccinc.com.