Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

Goodbye to “Sir or Madam” Marketing

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
© Brunoil |

© Brunoil |

“Dear Sir or Madam,”

“Have you heard about our new [product/service]?  There has never been anything like it before.  Best of all, it’s designed just for you, [prospective client name here]!  Worry no more about [financial security/maximizing returns/funding college/on-time retirement].  Our [product/service] will fit your needs like a [glove/shoe/favorite T-shirt].”

Most marketing has gotten well beyond this level of obviousness, of course.  But below the smoother surface of our mail-merges, much corporate thinking about marketing is still stuck in the one-size-fits-all mindset that should have gone out with legwarmers.

American Express was successful for years with the all-purpose slogan, “Don’t leave home without it.”  But with the 1990s came the advent of a new consumer mentality, one that encouraged customers to feel that products and services were not generically designed for the masses but tailored “just for them.”  American Express recognized this and retooled its approach, adopting its revised, targeted slogan, “The right card for the right people.”  As Richard Weylman noted in Opening Closed Doors, AmEx had realized that “it is more important and effective to reach the right people than it is to reach many people.”

It’s one of the great insights of modern marketing.  In today’s advertising climate, the wider you cast your net, the lower your marketing ROI.  Instead, spend some time identifying and wooing the very specific fish that are most likely to bite on the bait you have to offer.

How do you identify these fish?  Look around your tank. They’re already swimming in front of your nose.  Your current happy customers are the best predictors of what your future happy customers will look like.

After all, your current happy customers are happy for a reason—they love what you have to offer.  If you think of them as generic “customers” and go out looking for more “customers,” you are missing out on the golden opportunity to discover just what it is that brought them in and kept them with you.  Do you have accounts belonging to young families?  Realtors?  Educators?  Members of the Kiwanis?  Golf-loving retirees?  New homeowners?  Each of these comes with specific needs and desires.  Find out what they love and want, then build tightly targeted marketing around that subset of your local population.

And how do you find out what they love and what they want?  ASK them!  Remember that people love to talk about themselves.  Send out a personal letter to every current client who recently bought a home.  Tell them that you are eager to have more clients just like them.  Who wouldn’t want to hear that?  Ask what would make their lives easier—from actual financial products and services to a pizza delivered on Moving Day—then create it, advertise it, and reel ’em in!

In the end, your marketing should consist not of one big blast of generic information, but six or eight smaller, more carefully crafted campaigns.  Believe me—it’ll be the biggest bang for buck you’ve ever had.

Repeat after Me: Repetition WORKS

Monday, December 21st, 2009
© Jbrizendine |

© Jbrizendine |

Traditional one-touch marketing has been on life support for a long time, but now it’s brain-dead, buried and gone.  The high profile one-hit wallop is largely a thing of the past.  Buying a full page ad in the New York Times might say something about your chutzpah or your impressive marketing budget, but casting one net won’t do much by itself to bring people in the door—especially a net that wide.

The reason is easy enough to figure out.  In his book Permission Marketing, Seth Godin notes that the average person is bombarded with over one thousand advertising messages per day, of which fewer than 1.5 percent register in memory at all.   Eliminate those that only register negatively—CLOSEOUT, CLOSEOUT, CLOSEOUT, EVERYTHING MUST GO!—and there’s not much left.

You don’t need to be loud.  In fact, obnoxious advertising can lead the consumer to unleash his deadliest weapon on you—neglect.  Better to (1) carefully identify your target market and (2) drop a lot of quiet but attractive little hooks in the water.

Research in this area is pretty conclusive:  It takes between five and nine touches before the average consumer responds to an advertiser’s message.  So it’s your job to find non-obnoxious ways to put your name and products in front of your prospects in as many low-key ways as possible.  Depending on your business and your prospects, this might include tightly-targeted ads (online or in print), sponsorship of a charity event, and (best of all) an excited buzz on the lips of your current happy clients.

Don’t think that every touch has to include your whole product line, mission statement, and driving directions.  Just encountering your name or logo several times builds awareness and curiosity to learn more, even if the prospect isn’t aware of the effect of that repeated exposure.

The subconscious effect of repetition was demonstrated powerfully in a famous experiment by Yale psychologist John Bargh.  Students in Bargh’s seminar were given ten sentences to unscramble.  They thought they were being tested on their ability to sort out the sentences—but no.  Seeded throughout the scrambled sentences were words related to old age, such as “lonely,” “gray,” “bingo,” “wrinkle,” and my personal favorite, “Florida.”  After unscrambling the sentences, students walked out of the testing room measurably slower than students who unscrambled words without those messages related to old age. 

No one shouted “YOU ARE FEELING OLD!” at the subjects.  If they had, it probably wouldn’t have worked.

In another phase of the experiment, students unscrambled sentences with words connoting impatience or aggressiveness or kindness and exhibited those qualities more often than the control groups.

Marketing is also an attempt to induce a certain attitude—specifically, a positive attitude toward your company and products.  And the most effective way to do this is by placing your name and “face” in front of your prospective clients in a positive way, and then doing it again.  And again.  And again.