Shhh, stealth marketing
I've been fascinated for a while by the idea of closed group marketing and how it creates seriously strong brand ambassadors. Because the group is closed they feel special, spoilt, looked after (as long as the communication is constant, regular and expected). And of course there are those that have not been invited, feel slightly hurt but are also very keen to find someone, anyone they know who can get them an invitation... But then there is a huge proportion that don't know it exists and will never come across it, at least not for a long time, by which time they feel it's not for them.
With the onset and adoption of social networks this technique has come into its own.
How about if you apply it to a new concept in retail?
A new store has opened in Edinburgh, a shoe shop for girls - not only is it unusual for people to know of its existence but in order to visit you have to make an appointment... are you still interested? You are encouraged to go in a group - the reception area has a Champagne bar off to one side, ushered through to the main salon and pairs of shoes are displayed like works of art on silk cushions and under glass domes; there's also the cream salon with the seriously lush (read expensive) shoes. The great thing about the experience is you take your time, parade around and plug in your iphone to make the entire shop yours to play in.
What interests me about this particular concept is that the entrepreneur that has set it up has numerous businesses all of which are online; a risk or a brilliant concept? This is not an advert for the business; I'm just fascinated by the approach - it's working on recommendation and the owners business networks.