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Marketing : Passive & Active

April 23rd, 2012 Posted in business
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Let’s talk about marketing again.  Specifically, what I’d like to term Passive & Active marketing.  No, they’re not real terms but it’s a distinction I occasionally use in my mind.

Passive & Active Marketing

The difference between passive and active marketing is the way those tactics bring customers in.  Passive marketing continually draws customers in due to its nature by building the company’s brand, while active marketing if turned off would result in no customers at all.  Here’s a few examples:

Passive: Blogs, Videos & SEO

Active: Social Media Marketing & Adwords

Now, this obviously isn’t a direct correlation – some Active marketing like the Social Media marketing does help build the brand; but it also requires a larger commitment of time and continuous management.  Same with Adwords to some extent – you can turn it on quite easily and not manage it; but if you ever stopped investing in it, you’d get no additional customers due to its very nature.

Passive marketing on the other hand builds the brand and is ‘consistent’ in its returns.  In some ways, banner advertising falls under that category by building an impression of the company with your customers.  There’s long terms return from this type of marketing; but it can often take a long-time to take off.  SEO for example requires consistent work for a long period before you notice any actual difference – but also has a large amount of inertia behind it (generally speaking – we won’t discuss algorithm changes here).


Theoretically, you could only use one or the other form of marketing and build a company.  However, I’ve found it more useful to balance both forms – passive marketing is great but takes such a long time, while active marketing brings immediate short-term returns but doesn’t add to your long-term results.

Another way to view this is via the sales funnel and where you are ‘stuffing’ customers in.  A lot of active marketing targets customers as they are in the later stages of their decision process – pushing them to ‘buy’ now.  Passive marketing works to ‘stuff’ customers in in the earlier stages, increasing the total number of customers in the funnel.

By only using passive marketing, you might increase the demand for board games but you also lose many of those customers when they finally make the purchase.  On the other hand, only using active marketing means you continually fight for the same few customers with your competitors – a nasty business of diminishing returns.

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