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Go-to-Market Strategies: Break Through - Once or Even Three Times is Not Enough

The old advertising standard used to be that someone seeing your advertisement three times would start to take notice and possibly action. But not anymore! Why? We, as potential customers, business and consumer alike, are bombarded with marketing messages all the time, everywhere, in expanding ways. It used to be that the media choices focused on radio, TV, newspaper, magazines and billboards. The advertising world metric was *3*; an ad must be seen at least three times in each media choice to break through the clutter and be noticed.

"We've gone from being exposed to about 500 ads a day back in the 1970s to as many as 5,000 a day today."

~Jay Walker-Smith, Yankelovich Consumer Research

Media Choices Are Expanding Exponentially

But media is exploding - email, web sites, cell phone, iPad, social media, even the floor of your grocery story may have advertising. There are ads on buildings, ads on taxicabs and grocery carts and even the body of your favorite sports star. Messages bombard you from texts, emails, ads on videos on YouTube, and just about anywhere there is space.

It Takes At Least Seven Times To Break Through The Clutter

With all this competition for the mind of your target audience, the new metric is *7* impressions. A prospective customer must see your message on average 7 times for it to stand out from all the other messages they see each day. That’s right, 7 times. The first time or two, it may not be noticed. By the 4th, 5th , 6th or 7th time, the human brain starts realizing its been seeing a lot about this product or company!

Spend Money On Product Development, Spend Money On Getting The Message Out

Given the challenge of getting your message to your target audiences, it's amazing that companies are willing to commit enormous resources including people, capital and time to develop a product or service, but don't commit the marketing resources to break through the clutter and reach their target markets. To generate revenues, you must get your message out. This is not the place to cut costs! When companies don’t do enough multi-channel marketing to break through, and without customer engagement activities to follow up on their campaigns, they are lost in the noise. They are not getting their unique benefits noticed. Your message must be seen again and again to stand out and compel your targets to take the action you want—generating leads and sales.

Multi-Channel Marketing Is The Answer

What’s a businessperson to do? The good news is that you don’t have to just do one marketing activity 7 times--there is a way to break through the clutter and stand out in a customer’s mind—and that way is through using a variety of methods to gain awareness, move the prospect to interest and demand and then to a sale.

Are there some marketing communications that get attention in one fell swoop—yes, sometimes. Product launches using 6 page spreads in the Wall Street Journal or a huge online ad buy across many segments may get attention. Ads for the Olympics or the Super Bowl, too. These type of communications are usually backed by big budgets, however. In these cases, you may be able to get your message across in one time. However, the amount you spend will usually more than equal what can be done with a variety of integrated marketing activities working together to deliver your message.

Make sure you understand your customer. How do they find information? Do they use search? Do they read newspapers? Do they use Instagram? Put a program together using the online and offline channels that your target audience uses. Doctors need a different approach than a CEO or a new mom.

On the other side of the spectrum are viral marketing activities—free activities using email or word of mouth or posts on social media that spread (such as the Oreo post during the SuperBowl blackout of 2013 showing a lone Orea and saying “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark.” But you need to start or catch a trend or “newshack”—use some news to leverage off of to get your message out. The opportunities don’t happen all the time and you have no control over targeting your message or number of times a person will see the message. Not that this is bad, but viral activities should be incorporated as one method into your whole integrated, once is not enough plan!

Actions To Take Right Now

Right now, you should be auditing what you are doing, making sure you are not doing one-shot marketing, which just does not make effective use of your marketing resources.

Make sure you understand your customer. How do they find information? Do they use search? Do they read newspapers? Do they use Instagram? Put a program together using the online and offline channels that your target audience uses. Doctors need a different approach than a CEO or a new mom.

  • Document your current marketing efforts-identify what activities you are doing.
  • Analyze them—Are you doing one-shot activities or following through and consistently touching your target audience with a customer journey that continues talking about your messages and benefits?
  • Evaluate them -- Highlight those "one shot" tactics and determine whether you can either expand them or if they should be put away for the time being. One shots can be used as tests to optimize results. For example, if you did a one-time ad and feel it's an effective way to reach a target audience, identify places to run it again. Try new messages, new audiences or new offers. Increase the number of impressions to your prospects. If you did an email campaign, mail to the audience again with a new message or offer, and continue to engage with content. Just because they don’t open your email or click your ad the first time, does not mean they are not interested. My studies have shown that 2X more people come to a website from an ad than click on it. Remember, the average is 7 times to make an impact and each time your audience sees something from you, it builds awareness and keeps you top of mind.
  • Evaluate your budget -- are you spending too little, just enough or too much? Search on the Internet for data on marketing spend rates in your industry to see where you stand. Or talk to your peers.
  • Compare them -- Review the marketing efforts of your competitors. How are they reaching the same people and companies you're trying to reach? See if you can learn from their practices and improve upon them.

Remember: it starts with knowing your customers and putting together a multi-channel program that provides benefits and differentiations your customer cares about. Touch them in multiple ways that match their information seeking and daily habits, and break through the clutter!

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