The world is a strange place to be in at the moment. The world of marketing seems to be even stranger yet. It appears rationality has simply gone out the window as people panic in times of economic crisis. You see examples of companies doing the exact opposite of what they should be doing and these are run by extremely intelligent people hiring other extremely gifted individuals to form teams, brainstorm, propose and ultimately decide upon the best approach. Yet there is so much crap out there its unbelievable.
Lets talk marketing. The average person (as well as the very average marketer) may think the best thing to do during times of crisis is to simply cut advertising budget and channel remaining funds into known and tested forms of media. Well lets dissect that thinking just a little.
* Times are tough and business is struggling
* OK we’ll need to cut budget
* The budget’s have been cut so we need to be careful where we spend our money
* Lets spend it on what we did before (you mean the same stuff that got you in this position in the first place right?)
* That’s a great looking ad! (it goes well with your competitors on page 3,7,9,11,17,22 and 33. Well done.)
* Im not sure how the ad performed but it looked good didn’t it? The others keep doing it so it must be working.
Does it seems a little clearer as to why the cut budget and spend safely simply does not work? You may well need to cut your marketing budget but it doesn’t mean you should stick to your usual, often fundamentally flawed ways. Remember those usual ways are exactly what got you (you being the advertiser, not specifically as in you) stuck in the first place! The only way out is to really set yourself apart from the bunch. Be different, act different and think different. Not being different is the exact reason why people stop buying or trying your offering.
Another major problem here is that everyone is trying to target the masses with the key defining feature that bonds this group is that they are simply indifferent however at the same time represent the majority of the purchasing population. They don’t care whether your ad looks great, or how your new football boot is worn by some bloke they could never be. You need to remember that times are tough for the masses, economic and financial crisis hits the masses hard, the same masses you are targeting.
So now tell me the reasoning behind this marketing approach. You are targeting people who don’t really care and don’t have the money to get out and purchase your product. How much money do you want to waste? How many ads do you need to print and display before you realise it’s just not working?
When things are tough those products that are a cut above the rest, those that are amazing and extraordinary will prevail. Why? Because these don’t interest and are unwanted by the masses. The property market in UK, US, and Australia is struggling but what type of property are we talking about here? We are talking about the property for the masses. We are not talking about water front mansions worth several million dollars. For example take Donald Trump, who in mid 2008 during a time when the housing market was in the pits, sold his Florida home for 100 million dollars! The housing crisis we are really talking about are the typical housing prices going down and bringing a large number of people down with them. The whole economic and financial downturn could possibly be attributed to sub-prime mortgages crashing heavily accompanied with the devalued nature of the properties (all be it a slightly abbreviated explanation!). Who were these sub-prime mortgages sold to? The same people who are not buying your products now, the masses.
I don’t believe I’m extraordinarily bright but you don’t have to be. Just think about it. The old ways of marketing and advertising are useless now because the people your advertising to simply don’t care. They don’t buy FHM to look at your ads and use TV commercial breaks to fill up their drink. TV advertising and Magazine advertising once worked because they were different and the alternatives were few and far between. Traditional media requires the diverting of a user’s attention in order to absorb the message you are trying to portray. This doesn’t work anymore! People are immune to ads and subconsciously and consciously tune-out or flick to the next page whenever they are subject to an advertisement. They have seen hundreds and thousands of these before, possibly even millions over their lifetime so why would they pay attention to yours? Do you read all your spam?
So the sad truth is:
1. People don’t care
2. People don’t have the money
3. People don’t even notice.
Yet I look through a popular men’s magazine and I see hundreds of crappy examples selling the same stuff and marketing to these exact people! Amazing.
How do you get around it? Create. Create something that genuinely ads value and will appeal to a dedicated minority, NOT to the masses. Hang on you say, that is where all the people and the money is! If you have just asked this question then please go back to the beginning of this post and read again. Going straight to the masses just puts you in the ‘me too’ category and you will inevitably fail. Even in times of crises, the minority, namely those who like to try new things (innovators and early adopters) will try new things if they believe it ads value to them. Go for the niches and source the ”sounding boards’ and target them directly. They are the ones who will be interested in purchasing and if they like it, they will talk about it, hence why I call them ‘sounding boards’.
Being different and adding value is the backbone of forming a sound business model. Watching someone acting different, doing well and then joining the group as a ‘me too’ is the recipe for mediocrity and inevitable failure. A perfect example would be Coca Cola moving into the energy drinks market and taking on Red Bull. Red Bull found a niche, offered something different and with value. It was unique in the market and didn’t even taste good but it added value to those who adopted it who then spread the word and the masses eventually came on board (once again an abbreviated story but you get the picture). In comes Coke, brings in Lift plus and Mother, says me too, makes it taste like garbage juice and says gimme my market share. What happens? It fails and it will continue to fail no matter what they try to do. Why? They tried to target the masses who are indifferent and don’t really care to change. “I’ll stick to Red Bull, thanks anyway” say the masses.
The key is to source out a niche, target the early adopters and offer them excellent value. This is how, now only in current economic conditions but from now on, you will be able to create a solid and profitable business model. Become a ‘me too’ and you will become another ‘me too’ scratching your head, waiting in line for your fortnightly government cheque thinking, what went wrong?