Outside Insights | February 2011 | By Guest Author

Don’t Interrupt Your Consumer; Engage Them

The average American is blasted with thousands of advertisements every day. Rather than try to shout above the noise, marketers must learn to converse with their biggest fans.

Americans deserve engagement instead of advertisement overload.
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How many advertising messages is the average American exposed to every day?

When you consider almost every surface we see during the course of our day is invariably plastered with advertising, the numbers are high. From newspapers, magazines, billboards, and product logos, the acceleration of marketing and advertising messages over the past 60 years is astounding. When you also factor in electronic media from television, radio, computers, to smartphones, you begin to realize what a staggering amount our senses deal with on a daily basis. Savvy marketers today are referring to this onslaught as “interruption-based” advertising.

Some experts claim that we are interrupted with close to 30,000 messages per day. It’s a bombardment that would make the most well drilled artillery unit throw up their hands in despair and start taking notes.

Is Such Saturation Effective?

With such pervasive exposure, how much do we actually notice? Even before the technological revolution of the last 30 years, consumers began to develop a certain level of “ad blindness.” The very idea is to grab the attention of the consumer with increasingly creative and ingenious content. With so much advertising, however, much gets lost in the noise and consumers have become more and more advanced in how they battle this onslaught. Case and point: How many of us use a DVR to record our TV programs and fast-forward through the commercials?

We need to learn to listen and engage our prospects and customers in conversation rather than shouting our message amongst all the other noise.  

Focus on Specific Demographics

Step one is to pause, take a deep breath, and focus on segmenting your audience. The idea is to narrow the focus of your efforts. The riches are in the niches. Never has this ideal been truer. Whether it is in person or on the Internet, if you are great with dealing with a specific demographic, then target that group by being present wherever that group congregates.

If you look closely, Amazon.com, Apple, and many other tech giants are already doing this, investing millions on technology to tailor output to each individual consumer based on past purchasing and browsing history. Unsettling? Maybe, but if you look at this from the perspective that they are focusing both on specific products and specific consumers, it’s actually quite brilliant. It works on myriad of levels. It doesn't really feel invasive, but rather quite the reverse; it feels like we've got a good pal looking out for us and informing us of deals on items we like. You can mirror this by leveraging the technologies that are right in front of you.

The idea is to narrow the focus of your efforts. The riches are in the niches.

Take a hard look at your existing customers and see if there are any commonalities. Use this information to determine if you have any populations that deserve more focus. You will likely find a segment that is more profitable, or even more pleasurable, to serve.

The Influence of Social Media

One of the advantages of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is that consumers actually choose to follow the company feeds they are interested in, whether professionally or personally, so marketing through these conduits is directly presenting to people who've proactively demonstrated an attentiveness. Essentially, customers are dictating the manner in which they are advertised to.

The one element every brand must communicate before consumers will buy is trust. Social media opens a conduit to friends, peers, and colleagues where trust is a basic prerequisite of membership. Subsequently, the opinion of a friend is worth far more than that of some salesman you’ve never met. Jane posts on her Facebook page that she just had a fantastic Risotto dish at Billy Bob’s Risotto Shack—and all the people who know Jane are listening. Are they listening to Billy Bob’s commercial? No. They are listening to Jane, a happy customer.

If you’re not already doing so, you have the tools in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many other social media platforms to create a community of fans. Closely monitor the activity and learn from what your customers are saying about you and your brand. Participate in the conversations and build trust.

You Have the Power

We are in the middle of a social and conceptual revolution where the marketing and advertising traditions of the last 100 years are being turned upside down. Nobody wants to be sold to, yet we still want to buy things. But now, like never before in history, we have the power to control who is given access to our attention. We have an opportunity to leverage the tools before us to build our own community of customers and friends. We also have a responsibility to promote ourselves honestly and responsibly. We then become obligated to our customers and ourselves to deliver.

Jon Sooy is vice president of sales and marketing at Golden Pacific Systems, provider of GPnet, an online supply chain management system designed specifically for companies that have multiple locations.

 

Photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org / Mike DelGaudio