The other day a friend of mine told me he skipped the commercials he heard on his car radio. "Really?", I asked, "Tell me what you do." "Well, when a commercial comes on I hit the scan button and go to another station," he said. "And do you stop at the next station and listen" I asked? "Not always," he replied, "I keep going until I find something I like." "Ah, then you are not skipping commercials," I said, "You are searching for relevance."
The 2005 Marketing Receptivity Survey by Yankelovich Partners, Inc. found that 54 percent of Americans try to resist being exposed to or even paying attention to advertising, while 69 percent are interested in devices that skip or block advertising. Marketers can read statistics like these and misinterpret them to mean that people hate advertising. This interpretation, in turn, leads to bad conclusions like: If people expect and avoid advertising through traditional channels then...
- I must look for captive audiences that cannot escape my advertisement
- I must reach them through unexpected channels like new media
- My advertising must involve the consumer through interactivity
But that same Yankelovich survey measured "engaging marketing practices" by asking people to rate 26 different approaches on a scale of 0-11, where zero corresponded to, "has an extremely negative impact on me and prompts me to avoid it whenever possible." And what did it find?
The least important marketing practice involves the use of new media. In fact, it ranked dead last. What's more traditional practices of intrusiveness took a beating. If new media or intrusiveness are not the solution, what is?
The five most engaging marketing practices in the survey were...
- Short and to the point.
- I can choose to see when it is most convenient to me
- Is personally communicated to me by friends or experts I trust
- Provides information about price discounts or special deals
- Is customized to fit my specific needs or interests
What do four of the top five have in common? Personal relevance. When advertising is "to the point," or "convenient to the consumer," or "personally communicated" by someone who knows them and their passions," or "customized to their specific needs and interests," it connects. People are not avoiding advertising, they are searching for personal relevance and when you deliver it they will reward you with their time, attention, and business. People don't hate advertising, they hate irrelevant advertising.
So here is my challenge. Stop targeting consumers. Targeting defines who you are trying to hit with your marketing and describes your desires, not the consumers. Instead, ask, "Who is searching for my product or service?" Then your advertising becomes the culmination of the consumer's quest---the destination to their journey.
Spread the fire. GS