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It’s a funny thing about ritual, the way it brings opposites together. People speak of ritual dismissively as a quick and easy thing, a rote behavior that’s used to avoid commitment or deep consideration. They also speak of ritual as a powerful experience that transcends routine behaviors, provoking profound contemplations and sustainable change.

The amazing thing about ritual is that it can take on both of these aspects. It can be a tiny thing, quickly forgotten, or a grand event that remains in our memories for the rest of our lives.

The use of ritual in marketing is like this as well. A comprehensive model of ritual marketing can create intense emotional experiences with products that enable lasting relationships between brands and consumers. The use of ritual in marketing can also, however amount to little more than a gimmick in which “ritual” is thrown into conversation as a buzzword to create the semblance of depth.

In marketing can be a flash in the pan. Ritual marketing can also be the pan – a solid tool that can be used to combine the ingredients of a marketing campaign, cooking them together until they become something delicious.

Which approach do you think will be of more benefit to your marketing efforts?

How can you tell the difference between a marketer understands how to work with ritual and a marketer who uses ritual to create a false mystique?

ritual pan

Pierce the mystique with questions. When you hear a marketer refer to including ritual in their campaign or research, ask them about what they mean. Then, follow up with more questions:

– What do you mean when you say “ritual”?

– How can you tell that ritual is taking place?

– Why bother with ritual?

– What is your model for how ritual works in a marketing context?

– How do you intend use to research ritual?

– What are the specific ways can you help us work with ritual principles to strengthen our brand?

A professional who understands how ritual works in the context of marketing will be able to answer these questions, on the spot. A presenter who is merely trying to add pizazz to a pitch will not.

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