It is estimated that the average individual comes into contact with more than 5000 advertisements per day, and given that this figure was estimated in 2007 and the internet has come along way since then, it’s more likely that the figure has more than doubled. Take a stroll down the street and you’ll come into contact with posters, billboards, shop windows and flyers. Take a look at your phone and you’ll find adverts on social media, on news pages, hidden between blog posts and even squeezed into the captions of Instagram posts. Everywhere we look we are drip-fed advertising and this sheer sea of content is what makes it so hard for us as marketers to succeed.
Regardless as to whether we have the best product in the world or are offering a new and innovative service, the swathe of other advertisements act on mass to drown out our attempts leaving the corporate giants to grow ever bigger and causing small businesses to struggle.
So is all hope lost? Is it really possible to stand out in the sea of advertising? Thankfully the answer is still yes – but how do we do it?
Know your audience
Perhaps the single biggest advantage marketers can have is to know their audience, not just know who they are but to know what makes them react. The reason why we don’t end up in a sensory overloaded blob at the end of a day having been exposed to over 5000 advertisements is because we don’t even register the majority of them, the ones that work, that make us click or watch or find out more are the ones who know us best. Our aim as marketers is to be the one that stands out, that knows our audience so well that they pick us out from the crowd, and the only way we can do that is by conducting extensive customer research.
How to really get to know your audience
Getting to know your audience can be daunting, after all, everyone’s different, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be grouped together based on common interests, wants and needs.
Look at your own product or service
Start by looking inward at your own product or service – what is it you are trying to solve? What pain-points are you trying to ease? This analysis of your own product or service is very important but you can’t use it alone. Analyzing your own product or service only tells you what you think your target audience wants, but you may find that what they really want is something completely different.
Talk to your current customers
The next biggest resource at your disposal is your current customer base. These people have found you and have liked what they’ve seen, so now you need to find out who they are and what they have in common. Customer surveys and questionnaires can provide a good starting point but to really understand what makes your customers tick and what it is about your product or service that appeals to them you need to speak with them in person. Offer an incentive to a group of local customers in exchange for a few hours of their time, or if you don’t wish to undertake the research yourself then consider using a market research agency.
Pay close attention to your customer’s needs
Throughout your customer research, it’s vital that you pay close attention to your customer’s needs and don’t allow your own assumptions to sway the conversation. The importance of knowing your customer’s needs can’t be stressed enough and will be the difference between your content being relatable or not. It may turn out that your customers have many different needs and your product can solve them all in one way or another and this is absolutely fine, with this information you can create segmented targeted advertising for each person’s need.
Pick your communication channels wisely
Marketing can cost a lot of money and so it’s better to choose a few, well-researched communication channels that you know will reach your audience, over scattering content across all the platforms you know, in the hope that one of them works. If you’ve done your customer research correctly then you should already have a pretty good idea about which channels are best to communicate with your audience through, be it social media, email, podcasts, radio, print or television. There are now more than 120 communication channels to choose from so try and focus on doing a few well, rather than jumping on the latest social media platform and wasting budget on the wrong audience.
Don’t forget the classics
Talking about communications channels, don’t forget offline marketing channels such as telephone, print, and face-to-face, although social media is a very important channel to consider the classics are tried and tested methods of successful communication and are all still highly profitable today. In fact, more people than ever now have smartphones and although they may be becoming more wary of cold calling, these phone users still check their voicemail, which makes services from Drop Cowboy such as leaving ringless answerphone messages an extremely effective way to reach a large number of people in a way that will increase the chance of them picking up your message.
Create content that provides value
Now you know your audience and where they hang out, it’s time to focus on creating content that they actually want to see. Creating content your audience wants to see is as simple as providing value, be that entertainment, discounts, knowledge or pleasure. Through your customer research, you should now know what makes your target audience react – do they share viral comedy videos? Do they like to feel educated before they buy? Do they put an emphasis on aesthetics? With this information, you can create adverts that speak the language of your customers leaving them feeling like they have received something out of your advertisement other than constant bombardment.
It goes largely without saying but to stand out from the crowd advertisements these days need to be offering something unique. If you’re leaving a telephone message, make it personal, if you’re creating a print advert do something novel or new that will stand out from the page. In terms of online advertising, visual media such as images, videos, and GIFs prove to be far more successful than text adverts alone with video coming out on top with the best ROI and click through rates.
When it comes to effective marketing some of the top viral posts of 2019 were in reaction to current affairs. Staying on top of the news that is relevant to your target audience and tailoring your content in a clever way to react to the events is often received well by consumers. Burger King famously put out a post saying ‘at BK everyone gets to keep their crown’ following the crowning error at Miss Universe which saw the wrong winner announced and her crown removed to be given to the other contestant. Similarly, when that image of the dress whose color was seen differently by the nation was doing the rounds, Tide put out their own social media post advertising their color guard products. Reactive posts such as these, ride a wave of consumer enthusiasm, often reaching far wider audiences as well as helping to improve brand image and relatability. Of course, reactive marketing can also go very wrong, and so it’s important to be tasteful.
Finally, it’s important to remember that even the world’s most successful companies and brands need to evolve. Evolution is inevitable, your target market will shift and age and with it, their needs and wants will change. The needs and wants of the generation coming up to fill their shoes can also not be relied upon to be the same and so to avoid alienating your new target market or losing the interest of your original clientele you must plan to adapt. Dyson is an example of one brand that has evolved very successfully, making high-end vacuums but also branching out into fans and hair dryers to provide a far wider service. Similarly, clothing brands such as The North Face have realized the market for their clothes amongst young people, adapting their product ranges and styles to include fashion items rather than the outdoor clothing they originally were known for.
Marketing is clearly a highly competitive area and one in which it is easy to get lost. That being said, successful marketers know how to stand out from the crowd and they do this by paying close attention to what their customers need, what they want and the ways in which they want to be communicated. Marketing is an ever-evolving craft and standing still is not an option, to be successful we must roll with the times, learn new trends and adapt to changes within the market. If you’re feeling lost within the ocean then raise your head and make sure you stand out.
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