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A street team is a group of individuals that engage in grassroots efforts to reach potential consumers of a product or service. Street teams can include fans who support a cause as well as paid marketing professionals. Their marketing approaches are often asymmetrical and offer exposure in regions ordinary advertising cannot reach. When they involve loyal customers and fans, they can also promote a relationship with consumers who will feel more of a sense of attachment through their support.
The origins of the street team appear to lie in music promotion, where many labels started to turn to fans as tastemakers. Loyal fans would be rewarded with merchandise and promotional materials they could use in turn to promote individual labels and artists. These street teams might distribute stickers and posters, promote shows, set up fan sites and 'zines, and participate with the community to increase interest in musicians they felt passionate about. The street team offered free publicity to record labels and artists, and often reached members of the public who wouldn't respond to conventional advertising like radio play and magazine advertisements.
As street team marketing became more popular, advertising firms started offering it as a paid service to companies with an interest in guerrilla and viral marketing. Street teams can engage in activities that range from sidewalk chalking neighborhoods to create buzz, to handing out free products at street corners to draw in customers. Street teams often attend events like street fairs, conferences, and so forth to reach individual consumers. These marketing teams can supplement an advertising campaign to increase awareness and market penetration.
Street teams in the sense of loyal fans and followers are still an important part of marketing. Many companies have members-only websites where people with an interest in the company can join bulletin boards, receive promotions, and create social networks through the company. These loyal customers in turn communicate with friends and family and may participate in activities like editing websites with fan material, promoting company events, and handing out free materials in their communities.
Members of the public with an interest in joining a street team can usually contact a company to get information. If it supports street teams, it can send out postcards, stickers, posters, and other materials for members of the public to use. It may also recommend being active on social networking sites, joining communities dedicated to the company's products and services, and participating in events like competitions for street team members.