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When we create advertising campaigns, we discuss our audiences. Marketers (myself included) babble incessantly about audience segmentation. How do you categorize your audience based on their likes and needs? What are their fears? What is their demographic, or if you want to really connect with them emotionally, what is their tribe? However, there is a preliminary way of separating everyone who will come into contact with your message into three, key audiences. It’s vital. It’s universal. It makes all the difference in the world to how well your ads will be received.
And many companies completely forget about it.
Before you even begin an advertising campaign, you need to understand that everyone who comes into contact with your message will be in one of the following three groups:
The believers, the faithful, the ‘frothy.’ Your true fans. These are the Apple fanatics who proudly show the logo on all their iPads and MacBooks. These are the people who don’t even acknowledge the existence of stores other than the Sony Store. They are more than just ‘brand ambassadors’ for your company, they actually are helping to shape and define your brand. These are the ones who got their noses out of joint when Starbucks changed their logo. Advertising to them is preaching to the choir. Does Apple spend money advertising the next iPhone before its release? No – they don’t have to. The ‘Apple Choir’ researches, digs and fuels the rumour mills about the specs on Apple’s next product. These people pre-order as soon as possible, but they made their buying decision months earlier. These are the ones who already know they will be buying the iPhone 6, even before the 5 has been announced.
Smart companies do everything they can to convert people to true fans, because then they don’t need to be advertised to.
There are some people that wouldn’t let themselves be taken into a Starbucks in a hostage situation. These are the ones you cannot please. It doesn’t matter if you come to their home and shower gold upon them. If you did they would probably sue you for trespassing and littering in their house. They are the trolls, the ones that go out of their way to share how much they don’t like your product. Think about how those same Apple fans react to PC’s. They have decided that your company does not match their values, and no matter what happens, it never will.
These people cannot be reached by your advertising, and if you do happen to connect with them, they will be offended. That’s because they’ve already chosen to be offended. The Choir defines themselves by their brand loyalty. The Haters define themselves by their brand disloyalty.
Everybody else. The fence sitters. Those who have not committed so hard to a brand that they are immovable.
This is your market. The people who have not committed to an unshakeable level of brand loyalty (or disloyalty). These are the ones who know their values, and are on the hunt for a product or service from a company that shares those values. These are the people who are still making decisions based on convenience, or price or the flip of a coin. There is no brand loyalty in this bunch.
Here is how you should approach each of these groups:
The Choir: Save some money. You don’t need to advertise to these people. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to market to them. You need to inform them of new product. You need to stay in touch and engage with them. But you don’t need to advertise to them. Think about how Apple advertises their upcoming products. Oh right, they don’t. Apple’s choir is so enthralled by the rumor mill that they advertise to themselves and each other. They do the work for Apple. Ads don’t hit the airwaves until the products are actually launched, but you can ask a die-hard Apple fan what is coming and they will have more information and excitement than can be conveyed by any commercial.
For this group, it’s not about advertising, it’s all about customer service. They are already coming in and buying your product. Reward them. Reward them with a good product and with excellent service when something goes wrong. In fact, reward them when everything goes right. And make damn sure that your product is worth their loyalty, because ‘frothy’ as they are, committed as they are, if you don’t keep earning that loyalty by fulfilling your brand promise to them, they will become fickle and change. They’ll skip straight over Undecided and move on to Haters.
But save your advertising budget. Don’t spend money preaching to the choir.
The Haters: Save even more money. You can spend Warren Buffet’s fortune on ads and you still won’t reach these people. They have already decided to hate you. In fact, your ads will just give them more reasons. This audience is bound and determined not to like you and you can’t do a damn thing about it. So don’t kill yourself or drain your resources by trying.
Also, don’t worry if they complain to you about your ads. If they file a formal complaint you may have to pull the ad, but if you get nasty calls, smile, agree, say ‘I thought so too but our marketing guy pushed for them. Now the airtime is bought and they’ll have to run their course. Thank you for your feedback.’ Then hang up, relax and forget about it. You’re never going to win the Haters, so if they complain it costs you nothing. Let them go. In fact, when the haters get upset about your ads, it usually means you’ve created excellent advertising.
The Undecided: There’s gold in these here hills. This is your target audience. This is the group that advertising can speak to. But here’s where your knowledge of the Choir comes in. Why are the choir members choir members? Your brand makes them a promise and fulfills it. So though you won’t advertise to the choir, find out what promise you are fulfilling for them, then extend that promise to the undecided. Those that find value in your promise may come over. Those that don’t, won’t. And that’s just fine. You can’t be all things to all people. So find out who you are all things to and then find more people like them.
What often gets missed in the beginning of a campaign is “Which one of these audiences are we talking to?” The answer to this will have a dramatic effect on your message. It may even determine the fate of your campaign before it’s launched.
Figure out who you need to reach with your advertising before you start crafting the message. You’ll save time, money and enjoy much more effective marketing.
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