Contributed by Hannah Beasley
When I get something in the mail, I expect it to be relevant to me. Even if the piece is not personalized with my name, I expect the ad to be offering me something I need or at least something I may want. It needs to be relevant, unique, and timely. I’m in my 20s. If you send me an advertisement for a nursing home, clearly it’s not relevant, much less unique or timely, and I’m going to throw it away.
The same rule generally applies to every advertisement or offer I am exposed to. The average American is exposed to over 2000 advertising messages each day. Some people would argue that advertising has become the most powerful educational force in today’s society. Our brains are constantly living in a place of information overload, as we are now faced with offers on the Internet, on TV, and in the mailbox every day at an alarming rate. My generation has grown up with an unprecedented amount of exposure to advertising, and as a result, we have an uncanny ability to completely ignore messages right in front of our faces.
Every time I go to the grocery store, I ignore over 40,000 SKUs. If I go to Walmart Supercenter, it’s likely that I’ll ignore nearly 100,000 SKUs (and become extremely irritated with the long checkout lines). I cannot possibly process all of the offerings I encounter, so if my brain is trained to ignore 99% of all messages that I am exposed to each year, how do some marketers manage to get through to me? And yes, there are a few that get through.
First and foremost, the offering must be RELEVANT to me. As I mentioned before, if it’s not relevant, I’m throwing it away. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. Because of my background, my work, and the fact that I’ve grown up in a media-crazed society, I know that advertisers CAN make their promotions relevant to me, and I expect them to. Facebook (although creepy) does a great job of using their knowledge of my profile as the basis for serving up RELEVANT offers. During the months when my relationship status was marked as “engaged” a few years ago, my Facebook page was constantly serving up ads to support the 40 billion dollar wedding industry. If I see wedding ads now, I completely ignore them. However, in that brief period of time while I was planning my wedding, I actually considered the advertisements (well, at least some of them). Facebook was tactfully using their knowledge of my demographics to serve up RELEVANT offerings (and charge more for these targeted ads). Serving up relevance means promoting your offer to the right person at the right time. If you’re not doing this, you’re wasting your time. The “spray & pray” method commonly used in direct mail campaigns of the past is over.
In addition to being relevant, the offering must be UNIQUE. The product itself doesn’t have to be entirely unique, but the advertisement must at least show me something truly compelling. It could just be the presentation and design that’s compelling, or it could be the inherent features of the product. Whatever the case, I know that my brain is designed to dismiss offerings that are identical to five other offers I have already seen.
Lastly, the offering must be TIMELY. I still cannot understand why so many web addresses are printed on billboards. When I see a billboard, I’m probably driving. Yes, I occasionally check a quick email or give a yes/no response to a text while driving, but I am never going to enter a web address on my mobile phone to access a website as prompted by a billboard… all while blasting down I-65. If you want someone to visit your website, make it simple for them by allowing them to scan a QR code, or by sending them an email with the web address link. If you expect your target market to spend a few minutes reviewing your offering, present it when you expect they have some leisure time. Make your prospecting calls on Friday afternoon when you know most people are starting to wrap up their work for the week. Avoid asking anyone for their time on a Monday. Try to meet with people in person and outside of the office to avoid distractions and to gain some ever-fleeting undivided attention. Once again, I’ll return to Facebook. The Social Media King is the perfect place to advertise, because site visitors are likely logged on to kill some spare time. Users are browsing and clicking through things they find interesting, and this is exactly what the advertisers want. It’s much easier to integrate your offering into what your prospect is already doing than it is to ask them to change their plans and pay attention to you.
So, what is the true measure of success? An exceptional advertisement will compel me to SHARE my experience with the offering with others. At Fetter, we talk a lot about not just having clients or “users” of our software – we’re on a mission to create Fans. Fans love you. They talk about you. They tell their friends about you. They influence others. They forgive you when you have hiccups. They know you’re the best partner. They know you add value and make their lives better.
If your offer is RELEVANT, UNIQUE, and TIMELY, your clients and prospects will remember it. And with any luck, you will have a stadium full of fans before you know it.