Don’t forget the basics

What can a business do to make sure their message is seen or heard?

In the 1970s consumers were exposed to about 500 ad messages a day. By the year 2000 this had risen to more than 3,000 a day. Statistics peg that number to be up to 5,000 a day or to be even more shocking more than 1.8 million a year.

Sounds incredible? Not really. Just think of the number of messages you see on the web, your Facebook page, the newspaper, TV, radio, as you walk along the street. In fact think of walking up and down the grocery aisle where you are exposed to thousands of product packages that are in reality mini billboards.

What this creates in the world of marketing is an unprecedented amount of clutter. And with new communications tools and technology it will continue to escalate at a rate that goes beyond what anyone can predict the future will bring.

Most consumers tune out the bulk of these messages in order to preserve a sense of sanity or a worst case scenario, avoid brain damage.

This was highlighted in a research study that surveyed 4,000 web surfers. Statistics show that 30 per cent of adults will leave a website right away if they perceive that the home page contains too many ads. More than 52 per cent said that more than two ads were considered a nuisance and a further 27 per cent said the same thing about a single ad per web page.

So what can a business do to make sure their message is seen or heard?

Before you go off and spend a lot of money, jump on the bandwagon of new technology or spend hours banging your head against the proverbial wall, you need to ask yourself some fundamental questions. These questions are not new, don’t require a degree to understand their implications and have served generations of marketers quite well. In fact they form the basis of everything you are trying to accomplish with your business.

Question 1: Who are you targeting? In other words get to know the characteristics of your customer, where they live, what their interests are and what are their greatest needs.

Second question: How does your product or service benefit your customers? Focus on the need that you are fulfilling whether it is bringing them peace of mind or elevating their stature in how others perceive them.

Third question: Where do they get their information? This will help get you out of the clutter if you know what they are reading, whether they are heavy online users or if their smartphone has become an extension of their right hand.

Getting the right answers to these questions will go a long way in helping you to develop a communications plan that will cut through the noise and position you at the top of your customer’s mind when they are ready to buy.

Another thing to remember in order to improve your chance of being heard in today’s communication mix is to look for opportunities to go where the competition isn’t. The new shiny tool may seem to be the right way to go because everyone is using it but you just might find success by using something more traditional like a handwritten note sent to your best customers or prospects.

Breaking through all the clutter is certainly a challenge but if you remember the basics of good marketing practices you are well on your way to standing out above the crowd.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached at joesmith@shaw.ca.

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