With consumers turning off to advertisers’ traditional efforts to promote their products, services and businesses, how do you communicate and build a relationship with your target market in a way that doesn’t leave a bad taste in their mouths?
As discussed in previous updates and a plethora of articles on online marketing in the new economy (“How Content Marketing Is The New Moneyball” – Social Media Today, “Marketing Is Dead” – Harvard Business Review, “Is Skipping Ads Stealing The Content?” – Stuff.co.nz) it’s hard to know how to best spend your hard earned online marketing dollar.
Online publishers have long since learnt that selling advertising on a Cost Per Click basis (CPC) placed them at the mercy of how attractive their advertisers ads and products are, and now most online ads (banners, skyscrapers, text ads) are sold on a Cost Per Thousand Impressions basis (CPM). Good for the publishers (if they can survive on such slim revenue) but not so good for the advertisers, as impressions don’t necessarily mean clicks – banner blindness is alive and kicking.
On the other hand, some internet giants and social media players (eg Google Adwords, Facebook, LinkedIn) do allow Cost Per Click and auction off clicks to the highest bidders, but with more advertisers now trying to get the attention of the online audience, the cost per click is rising, while consumers of online media are becoming increasingly averse to these ads. So do the traditional metrics for measuring online marketing still make sense? Should you be aiming for clicks, engagement, awareness or something else?
And where does Espire Media fit? We don’t sell our advertising spots on CPC. We don’t promise you’ll get more clicks than if you spent your money on Google Adwords and we don’t promise you’ll get more reach. So where do we fit and how can we help you?
Understanding the customer buying cycle:
The best place to start is by taking a look at the customer buying cycle. Regardless of whether you’re selling shoes, sales training, software or buildings, all customers go through a similar process in the lead up to making a buying decision and choosing their supplier.
1) “Satisfaction” – The customer is happy with their life.
2) “Dis-satisfaction” – Oh oh. Something has come up. Customer identifies they have a need, want or problem they need to find a cure for.
3a) “Search for a cure phase 1” – First to mind brand awareness: Customer asks themselves who they know and trust that can give them what they want. If they know someone, they’ll usually go there first. If it’s a high value purchase, they’ll check out their options with the top two or three. If you’re not in the top two or three businesses that are “first to mind”, you’ve probably missed out on this sale.
3b) “Search for a cure phase 2” – Referrals: If the customer doesn’t know which business can help them, that’s when they’ll search for a cure. First they’ll ask the people they trust – friends and family and trusted advisors. Either face to face or via social media. If your business is not one of the top two or three businesses recommended or being talked about, you’ve probably missed out on this sale.
Notice all of the things that need to happen, if a customer is to consider your organisation as a solution to their problem, before they even get in the car, pick up the phone or jump on the computer.
3c) “Search for a cure phase 3” – Online research: If no one can recommend the customer a solution, that’s when the customer will turn to their own research. In the old days, this was the Yellow Pages. Today it will be Google. If your business is not in the top two or three spots on Google, you’ve probably missed out on this sale.
Alternatively, if you’re not lucky enough to have been the customers first choice or recommended to them, this is also when interruption advertising can work be it online or offline. Of course, only 3% of your target market will be in this position at anyone time, which is why the other 97% simply see it as noise.
3d) “Search for a cure phase 4” – In store: If you’re selling tangible products in a retail scenario, once at their supplier of choice, the customer will then compare the products on offer. If your product is not in one of the top two or three brands that springs to the customers mind, before they hit the store, you’ve probably missed out on this sale.
4) “Buying decision made” – Having found a business and product or service which can help them solve their problem, the customer will make a buying decision.
5) “Post purchase plateau” – After taking action, the customer will then begin the cycle again, returning to Step 1 “Satisfaction”, or if their buying decision didn’t fix their problem, back to “Dis-satisfaction”.
Alright so what’s the point here? The point is, that unless your business has already earnt top of mind awareness and trust with your potential future customers, or their peers, before they have a problem, you will be forced into a position where you have no choice but to rely on search based advertising or interruption advertising. You will forever be forced to buy the attention of your target market and those with the deepest pockets will win.
To use an often quoted example, if I’m hungry and feel like a burger, I know two or three places I can satisfy this need without even thinking about it. I don’t need to ask anyone and I don’t need to Google. Similar for my banking needs, accounting help, and should I ever need a new luxury European sports car I know exactly where I’ll be going. Can the same be said of buyers in your industry?
This “first to mind” awareness has to be the goal for every business because if you’re not first to mind for your potential future customers, before they even have a problem, it’s already too late.
Question. How do you achieve first to mind awareness, if traditional interruption advertising is actually turning people off?
Answer. By the smart use of content marketing, PR and sponsorship – the soft skills of marketing traditionally known as below the line marketing. By making your marketing your customers destination, rather than an interruption on the way to a destination. For example think Coca-Cola Christmas In The Park, Redbull’s free magazine The Redbulletin and all the extreme sports events they sponsor, The ITM Fishing Show, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards… you get the idea.
The cumulative effect of having your brand interact with your target audience in an ongoing, positive way will help ensure that when that potential customer needs a solution, your company will be one of the first to spring to mind. The old adage of repetition being the marketers ally still rings true in this respect, as it may be the effect of all the “touches” they have seen in the past, rather than one particular ad or campaign, that results in your current ad, promotion or campaign culminating in the all important “click” or phone call, that CEO’s and sales managers demand.
That’s where Espire Media comes in. Through the creation of engaging, targeted content and digital publishing, and the smart use of appropriate social media platforms, Espire Media enables our partners to help bring their target customers a valuable, content rich resource, and interact in a positive way with their desired audiences.
Espire Media – where we fit in your marketing mix
As an Espire Media partner we invite you to view us as your very own digital publishing team and value-added resource for your target audience. A long term, strategic partner in your online marketing and PR mix that provides all the benefits of content marketing, brand journalism, copy writing, email and social media marketing.
Google Adwords, Facebook advertising, banners and ad networks all have a place in your short term ‘above the line’ marketing mix and can and should be measured by Cost Per Click and Cost Per Impression metrics as they are the measurements appropriate to these tools.
But be wary of applying the same metrics to your long term ‘below the line’ campaigns or you could find yourself losing track of the real goal of your marketing efforts, which is becoming the first company to spring to mind in your category, before your customer even knows they have a problem.