When a little is sometimes enough


How many times do your customers need to be told about your offer before they act? Depends how much they want it, of course, but when it comes to marketing, can you overdo it?

Sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time. How lucky for you that you happened to be advertising your new range of curtain designs around the time that the customer’s cat slid down the living room drapes with claws fully extended.

Christmas reminds us, none too subtly, of the timeliness of marketing messages. Your TV screens are showing more perfume ads than at any time of the year and advertisers pull on our heart strings to entice us to shower the ones we love with symbols of our appreciation.

It makes sense to concentrate advertising of gift products at gift giving time, of course. (Although I’ve always thought car tyres were a bit of a stretch.) If your product is seasonally based, your marketing schedule has a predefined focus. But for those of us who sell products or services that have no set timing, we have to understand our audiences’ influences even more to be able to target them effectively.

There’s wide-ranging opinion on how many times a marketing message needs to be seen before it hits home, such as the magic seven or even down to a rather specific 2.7 times. However, media planners talk about the balance of three key aspects – reach, frequency and size.

In pre-digital days, reach was about which publications to advertise in, or which TV or radio channels. If you’re in Waikato, you could consider advertising in the Dominion Post but only if you can easily service a Wellington client. If you can courier them your product, yes, but if you’re promising to fix their boiler within 12 hours, not so much.

Reach is also about behaviour, and about being where your audience ‘hangs out’. Are they the sort of collective group who listen to The Edge or NewstalkZB, and at what time of day? Are they interested in their local stories so read their community newspapers or is their whole world online in the palm of their hands?

One of the biggest challenges, particularly for small business owners who are so close to what their business has to offer, is to remember that your customers’ media habits may not be the same as your own and it’s important to see life through their lens. Do they probably prefer Mulligan to Hosking? Are they Instagrammers rather than Facebookers?

Frequency is always as much about how much you can afford as it is about any other factor. If you’re advertising constantly, you may be more targeted in your reach and have smaller ads to spread your budget.

Advertising a unique special offer, for example, might see you do a short sharp burst of larger ads to get impact and visibility, rather than an extended series of smaller ads that are more effective at maintaining awareness rather than grabbing immediate attention.

In the digital space, with a few exceptions, sizes are pretty standard. Therefore, we can feel compelled to increase the ad frequency to get traction – and that’s where some marketers should be mindful of how much they are bombarding their networks and be prepared to take their foot off the pedal a little.

Nowadays, social media platforms give you opportunity to be flexible and reactive. But they can also tempt you into being over-bearing. Do I really want to be confronted by you daily? Probably only if your brand is about daily specials, quite frankly. Yes, you have to bang the drum loudly to be heard, but be careful not to rupture eardrums. Unless you’re telling me something that really interests me, or that inspires or entertains me, the like button can be clicked off all too quickly. Or the page turned, the channel changed or the email unsubscribed.

Effectiveness is driven by creativity and relevance. Size, reach and frequency are about understanding how people consume media but creativity and relevance are important emotive influences on whether your marketing will hit home.

As always, good marketing comes from a strongly defined brand, goals and a real understanding of the marketplace you are trying to connect with. Use humour if you feel it’s right for your audience, but keep it appropriate for your audience and, well, funny. Or focus on cold facts and figures if that’s what they genuinely relate to. Understanding your customer shows you respect your customer.

Do they need constant attention from you or will being ‘in their face’ all the time be counter-productive? As we relax in to the potential over-indulgences of the holiday season, I’m back to a food analogy again – everything in moderation.


About Author

Vicki Jones

Vicki Jones is director of Dugmore Jones, Hamilton-based marketing management consultancy. Email vicki@dugmorejones.co.nz