Street Level Marketing 2006: Revised and Revisited Dr Stephen Dann, The Australian National University Professor Susan

Dann, National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre and University of the Sunshine Coast Abstract Street Level Marketing (SLM) is defined as the marketing activities undertaken by a member of a psychographic niche to further the adoption of an idea, good or service, developed within the niche, to meet the specific needs or wants of the niche (Dann and Dann, 2004). With the revision to the AMA’s understanding of marketing in 2004, the opportunity exists to revisit the street level marketing concept to update the intra niche-driven marketing concept into line with the new understanding of commercial marketing. This paper outlines the changes to the SLM concept based on the 2004 marketing definition, and the impact this has for the role of SLM in business and non business applications. Five changes to the model are outlined – the revision of the marketing orientation concept, and the expansion of the market immersion, credibility and aidmheil concepts to reflect elements of the AMA (2004) marketing definition. Introduction Street Level Marketing (SLM) is defined as the marketing activities undertaken by a member of a psychographic niche to further the adoption of an idea, good or service, developed within the niche, to meet the specific needs or wants of the niche (Dann and Dann, 2002). Originally proposed in 1999, the street level marketing concept was conceptualized under the AMA 1985 definition of marketing. With the revision to the AMA’s understanding of marketing in 2004, the opportunity exists to revisit the street level marketing concept to update and upgrade to bring the idea of intra niche-driven marketing in line with the new understanding of commercial marketing. Brief History of SLM In the academic sense, street level marketing was first presented by Dann and Dann (1999) in response to authors witnessing Michael Gudinski’s explanation of the development and success of Mushroom Records. Since the initial presentation of SLM, it has been presented in commercial marketing literature as a source of innovation and entrepreneurship (Dann and Dann, 2001, 2004) and as a function of macromarketing (Dann and Dann, 2002). Prior to the academic use of the phrase, the term can be traced back to Morris (1993) in Billboard magazine, which used the phrase as a headline to discuss the use of street teams to promote a radio station. In commercial terms, street level marketing is often used to describe either guerrilla marketing style campaigns (Puy, 2005), ‘stumble-upon’ style product discovery (Hein, 2002), personal selling campaigns (Sedam, 2000) or grass roots based activism and social promotion (Harris, 2005). Although each use of street level marketing in the commercial and trade media uses a different view, it has had a reasonably consistent level of association with guerrilla marketing, underground or niche movements, and credibility dependent products. SLM 2004 + Marketing Definition 2004 = Street Level Marketing 2006 Commercial marketing is “an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders” (AMA 2004). First, commercial marketing is now includes the self identification element of organisational function, where previously, it was perceived predominantly as an organisational process. Redefining ANZMAC 2006

marketing as an organisational function alters the use of marketing as a series of techniques and practices into a more formalized element of the organisation. Second, the new definition no longer explicitly recognises the marketing mix, and instead focuses on the concept of "value creation" for the organisation and for the customer. Value is a complex concept which represents the extent to which the consumer' need will be fulfilled (or problem solved) by the s organisation' the offering created, communicated and delivered by the organisation. Third, the s previous notion of satisfying individual and organisational objectives has been exchanged for the new role of "managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organisation and its stakeholders". Finally, the definition broadens the role of the marketing orientation beyond the dynamic between client/customer and the organisation. The expansion of the concept to include stakeholder benefit as an explicit role of marketing impacts on the type and nature of the strategies that can be considered to be marketing strategy. Two changes are proposed for the SLM concept in light of the 2004 marketing definition. First, the measures of marketing orientation have been revised to reflect the contemporary marketing definition, and second, market immersion has been expanded to embrace the customer relationship management for stakeholders and the organisation. Street Level Marketing Expanded Street level marketing (SLM) refers to a specific approach to marketing which focuses on the development of problem solutions by an entrepreneur that are designed to simultaneously fulfill a need felt by the originator, and also serve a specific niche interest. Rather than using the top down “identifying and exploit” approach to niche marketing, the SLM model uses mutually beneficial exchanges that not only tap into a commercially viable business opportunity, but is also improving the quality of life of the entrepreneur and their customers by solving a specific market problem. Figure 1 outlines the original SLM conceptual model. Figure 1: Street Level Marketing 2002
Marketing Orientation Marketing Activities Marketing Philosophy Marketing Intelligence Marketing Research Market Immersion Credibility Street Credibility Source Credibility Aidmheil

Self belief Product belief

(sourced from Dann and Dann 2004) The following sections will overview each component element of street level marketing, and examine how the 2004 definition affects or alters the original model, and will conclude with the development of revised model. Street Level Marketing I: Marketing Orientation Marketing orientation is core the application of SLM as the individual or organisation must be engaged in the use of marketing – by definition and application, street level marketing needs the presence of a marketing to exist. Consequently, the original model conceptualized marketing orientation as “marketing activities, marketing philosophy, and the collection and use of a system of marketing intelligence gathering and market research”. (Warnaby and Finney, 2006; Doyle and Wong 1998; Gray et al 1998; Day, 1994; Kohli and Jaworski, 1990.). In the contemporary definition of marketing, it is now also necessary to expand marketing ANZMAC 2006

orientation to include the “organizational function” and “set of processes”. In closer examination of the AMA (2004) definition, “marketing processes’ represents similar conceptual paradigm as the existing “marketing activities” concept (Darroch et al, 2004; Dann and Dann, 2004). Incorporating the explicit recognition of the marketing function component requires additional consideration - from the street level marketing perspective, the nature of the process is that it predominantly involves entrepreneurs, small and micro businesses which may not have a dedicated marketing department. In this context, would street level marketing cease to be marketing if there was no clear organizational function to claim ownership of the processes? This aspect of the AMA definition remains unclear, however, Darroch, et al (2004) emphasizes the shift from the individual managerial objectives of the 1985 AMA definition to the whole of the firm approach with organizational function, and organizational objectives. From this perspective, the organizational function could be inclusive of a whole of the firm marketing orientation rather than an isolated and dedicated marketing functional unit within the firm. For the purpose of the street level marketing concept, the use of a marketing orientation, and the explicit incorporation of marketing process into the business strategy, tactical and operational functions will be regarded as a meeting the organizational function requirement of the AMA definition. Street Level Marketing II: Market Immersion Market immersion is the extent to which the SLM marketer can legitimately claim to be a member of the target niche (Dann and Dann 2004). Within the original conceptualization, SLM converted the catchphrase “What business are we in?” to the microsegmentation level of “What business am I?” (Dann and Dann 2002). Market immersion also allows access to information gathering through being a member of the social networks of the niche (Hill 2001; Stokes 2000). Membership of the market niche allows the understanding of the norms and values of the niche that have been gained by experience and social experience to be applied to marketing techniques and communications strategies (McCracken 1988). In addition, immersion creates the credibility of being perceived as “one of us” within the primary target market. It also incorporates the creation of a stakeholder relationship between street level marketer, their customers, and the other members of the market niche which can produce credibility, emotive support, niche based consumer ethnocentrism which assist in developing entry barriers for extra-niche competitive influences (Kucukemiroglu 1997; Elliot et al 2001). Whilst initially only a single item, the revision to the AMA definition allows for the integration of stakeholder benefit into the SLM construct. Darroch et al (2004) defines the current marketing definition as a movement from the managerial orientation of marketing into a stakeholder orientated era. This movement represents an opportunity to highlight the intraniche stakeholder component of the original street level marketing concept (Dann and Dann 2002). Specifically, by using Freeman’s (1984) definition of stakeholders as "any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the firm’s objectives", this can includes the other members of the SLM marketer’s niche. Dann and Dann (2002)’s use of SLM in the macromarketing context was justified by SLM concept’s intra-niche focused techniques placing the society niche as an active stakeholder in the organisation. Through market immersion, the stakeholder/marketer dynamic is reinforced with the demonstrable connection of marketer and market place. The intraniche, stakeholder focus is a fundamental principle of street level model, given that the marketer is responding to a self identified need and discovers an opportunity to share this need solution with their peers in the marketplace. One demonstrable case of the marketer felt need providing a wider market solution can be found through the Canadian software developer ProWrestlingX (PWX) ( who are in the process of developing and producing a ANZMAC 2006

professional wrestling video game “made for the fans, by the fans”. The self titled PWX video game arose from fan dissatisfaction with existing products in the market, and the failure of the existing commercial publishers to respond to grassroots movement Wrestling Gamers United requests for improved standards in the video games products. Consequently, rather than pursuing a “marketing as exploitation” attitude, ProWrestlingX has adopted a street level marketing solution, where the firm is providing a niche solution (professional wrestling game), which benefits both the marketer (direct financial benefit, fruition of the Wrestling Gamers United desire for a quality wrestling game, owner/creator Dave Wishnowski’s desire to play a good wrestling game), the consumer (a good video game, a prowrestling video game, fruition of the WGU manifesto) and the community (wrestling game fans, independent wrestlers and wrestling leagues as stakeholders). As illustrated in practice by WGU/PWX, street level marketing theory presents an opportunity to develop commercial products with an innate integration of stakeholder needs whilst pursuing broader commercial goals of financial viability and profit. Street Level Marketing III: Credibility Credibility is the believability, trustworthiness and expertise of the SLM marketer in the claims they make of their product, and in their personal reputations within the niche (Dann and Dann 1999). Although source credibility and street credibility would appear unaffected by the marketing definition, the emphasis on stakeholder benefit and customer relationship management creates an opportunity to incorporate “relationship credibility” into the model. Within the previous example, the credibility of the ProwrestlingX software development comes from the company’s development in response to the failure of the Wrestling Gamers United grassroots campaign. Whilst the original construct of source credibility incorporated business reputation (Herbig & Milewicz, 1995a), trust (Selnes 1998) and objective credibility (Doney & Cannon 1997), source credibility was included to balance street credibility with a reputation for sound business practice. Relationship credibility in this context is the organisation’s reputation for their management of both the relationship with the customer, and their management of the relationship with the stakeholders. Given the intra-niche focus of the technique, and the previously identified social communication networks, relationship credibility will be gained or lost based on how the business conducts itself. In more commercial terms, the relationship credibility can make the difference between being seen as remaining part of the niche or “selling out”, depending on how business relationships, and stakeholder relationships are maintained. Adding the relationship credibility to the model is also based on integrating the outcomes of the AMA (2004) definition’s requirement to managed the relationship with the customer for the benefit of the organisation and its stakeholders. Relationship credibility can be created as an intangible benefit of the organisation’s management of the relationship with the customer, which expands the benefit notion beyond simple financial exchanges and incorporates the intangible assets of brand, good will towards the organisation, and other relationship currencies such as trust. With the PWX organisation, the existing relationship with the fans is based on three factors. First, over the course of the development of both the organisation and the firms objectives, the company founder has maintained open lines of communication with the organisation’s primary stakeholders – wrestling gaming fans. By inviting comment, feedback and contributions to the organisation, Wishnowski has managed to maintain the grass-roots campaign level involvement of the primary target market. Second, and in direct contrast to the customer relationship management exhibited by the competitor organizations, PWX’s openness has increased levels of trust, and street credibility. Third, the management of the relationship has also created a level of product faith in the PWX organisation, WGU mission, and the development staff. ANZMAC 2006

Street Level Marketing IV: "Aidmheil" (Faith in the Product.) “Aidmheil” (pronounced “’m-th’ell) is a Celtic term relating to the notion of faith, which in this context is faith in the product and self belief (Dann and Dann, 2001a). In the original model, product faith represents the SLM’s marketers conviction that their product meets the need for market niche. Similar, the original self belief component of aidmheil is expressed in terms of the passion the SLM marketer feels for their niche, and their ability to deliver to that niche. Again, this is exhibited in the case of the PWX organizational manifesto, through both their ancillary funding products such as t-shirts with the slogan “Believe”, and through the open statement “Do you believe?” on the front page of the website. Faith in the organizational goals is an oft-repeated statement both amongst the organization’s core market, and the organizational staff. Aidmheil also includes the passion associated with niche identification as part of the SLM marketer’s self identification (Flores 1998). In terms of creation, communication and delivery of value, it may be possible to incorporate faith in the marketer’s product as a form of psychic value to the consumer in a manner similar to that experience with brand communities. For example, the provision of the possibility of a solution to a market need can create a product faith based value exchange for the consumer – the consumer gains value from hope, or the belief that a product will meet a need. Similarly, the consumer based product faith can become brand evangelical behaviour, even prior to the launch of a product – in the case of PWX, identification with the brand and support of the product, and the faith in the possibility of change has been perceived as an exchange of value (Dann, 2005). This aspect of the street level marketing also represents the acceptance and adoption of the street level marketer by their niche market and confirms the presence of the market immersion, street credibility and the sense the organisation is part of the stakeholder community. Street Level Marketing 2006: Future Directions Figure 2 presents the revised model of the components of street level marketing, incorporating the changes that have arisen as a response to the AMA (2004) redefinition of marketing. Changes to the model include the addition of marketing processes and marketing functions in the place of marketing activities, the expansion of the market immersion concept to incorporate stakeholder benefit and customer relationships, the development of organizational credibility based on the management of the relationship with the customers and stakeholders, and finally, the market’s adoption of the product faith as a form of value for the customer (see Appendix 1 for the Revised Model)


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Appendix 1: Street Level 2006 Revised Model
Marketing Orientation Market Immersion Credibility Marketing Philosophy Stakeholder Benefit Street Credibility Self belief Marketing Processes Customer Relationships Source Credibility Product belief Relationship Credibility Consumer Identification Marketing Function Marketing Intelligence Marketing Research



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