Now more than ever, it seems that marketers have countless ways of reaching consumers, whether through social media, internet ads, direct mail, or a magazine or newspaper. With so many options available, it’s understandable that businesses want to try many types of advertisements to find what works best for their company. Unfortunately, this can create a problem and a lack of results for businesses who try a marketing strategy for just a few months before abandoning it in favor of a different strategy. At McCauley Marketing Services, our extensive experience has given us a better understanding of why this happens and how to avoid it.
One reason that short-term marketing efforts often fail is because businesses forget to account for how much the audience of any particular medium varies. For instance, take a TV program that claims to have an average of 100,000 viewers. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there are 100,000 people who watch the show religiously—it may be more accurate that 30,000 of these viewers watch the show every day it airs, while the other 70,000 are comprised of people who watch the show every 4th, 5th, or 10th time it airs. Furthermore, many people vary their habits. For example, a stay-at-home mother of school-aged children will probably watch daytime TV more often while her children are at school, but may not watch any daytime TV during the summer because her children are home requiring her attention. As a result, a business can’t assume that, after advertising on a particular TV show four times over the course of two months, they’ve reached all the regular viewers of the TV show and anyone who hasn’t called simply isn’t interested.
Another factor that needs to be considered is your timing. Consumers need to not only hear your message, but hear it in a consistent manner at the right time in their lives. For example, let’s consider a plastic surgeon’s office. A woman who has never had children may not pay attention or make a note of the surgeon’s name when she hears or sees the advertisement, but a year or two later, the same woman has had a child and after seeing the effect that pregnancy has had on her body, is curious about restoring her physique to one that makes her feel confident again. The service, the advertisement, and the consumer are the same, but timing makes all the difference in how the consumer reacts to the message.
Finally, we need to consider the idea of effective frequency. There is a widely-held theory in marketing called the “Rule of Seven,” which states that a consumer must hear or see a company’s consistent message at least seven times in eighteen months before they will act on it. Based on our experience, while the number varies based on advertising medium, demographic, and other factors, the Rule of Seven is a generally accurate guideline. Regardless of the exact number of exposures a consumer needs, it’s become clear that your audience needs time and information to become familiar enough with your company to consider giving you their business. This is especially true for companies in the medical field or those selling high-dollar items. So with each of the above points in mind, even if you’ve reached every one of your potential consumers at the right time in their lives, they’ll need to hear your message multiple times before taking the initiative to seek your services.
Knowing how many pieces need to fall into place, how can you make your advertising effective? Marketing is a complex endeavor, but generally speaking, effective advertising uses diverse methods and sticks with each method long enough for it to work. This doesn’t have to be a budget-breaker; you can use free or lower-cost avenues like social media, and opt for smaller ads with a longer run rather than larger ads that you can only afford to run for a few months. Most importantly, though, take the time to consistently track where your consumers and potential consumers are coming from. Gathering and analyzing this data is the only way to know which of your advertisements are generating a profit. To really stretch your dollars, hire a professional marketing company with experience in understanding your consumers and determining where you’ll get the highest return on your investment. For more marketing tips or to learn more about making your marketing budget go further, join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ or give us a call to set up a personal consultation.