4 Bits of Conventional Marketing Wisdom to Avoid Like the Plague

 

If you had a dollar for every time you heard or read this tired marketing advice, you could probably buy an island and have enough cash left over to build a doomsday compound on it.

But this conventional wisdom is not as ironclad as it seems. And in today’s post, we’ll talk about why you should avoid it – at least, if you enjoy running a thriving business!

It’s that time again when we at The Draw Shop sneak out on the pasture to tip some “sacred cows.” Today, we have four of them lined up and ready: things that seem so common-sense you don’t think about them too much, like:

  • “You need to have a target market!”
  • “You need clear positioning and a specific niche!”
  • “Your consumers have short attention spans!”
  • “Repeat your message or it won’t stick!”

So come along, this will be fun!

1. “Be 100% certain who your ideal customers are”

When you sell a truly valuable product or service to people, you will notice something peculiar:

Your customers will come from vastly different backgrounds, pursuing distinctive goals and struggling with a shared problem (or problems). Fitting all these people into one mold labeled “my ideal customer” is pointless and impossible.

Or, as the VP of Product at Netflix once said, “Geography, age, and gender? We put that in the garbage heap.”

So instead of trying to insert a square peg into a round hole (or is it the other way around?), you can do one or both of these things:

  1. Define the shared problem that your offer is designed to solve. Then, look for segments of your potential customers that struggle with it, and target them. Who cares if they aren’t your core demographic? The sole fact that they need help – and your product or service can solve their problem – is enough.
  2. Describe multiple customer types that make a good fit for what you sell. Only, once again, forget the demographics. Focus on psychographics instead – things like:
    • What does each type of customer want? What are their goals and priorities?
    • For each kind of customer, what are the specific fears that might drive them?
    • And finally, what kind of barriers and objections does each customer type have about your offer?

Thinking about your target market in these terms will clarify and refine your marketing message a lot better than if you were to say, “OK, my ideal customer is a 40-year-old white male executive – how can I best reach them?” While demographics can still be useful, they don’t define your target market.

2. “Niche down until it hurts”

Much like the target market misconception, all this advice about niching down comes from a good place. After all, you’re not a giant consumer brand billions of people might use!

Because of that, you want to determine exactly where your product or service is needed the most, and concentrate your marketing efforts there. To do this, you need uber-specific positioning…

…or do you?

We’ve already established that you don’t have one specific type of “ideal customer” – and in a similar way, your product or service doesn’t occupy a single niche in the marketplace.

For example:

Think about a tennis ball. The most obvious “niche” for this product would be tennis players. But you could also use a tennis ball to:

  • Play with your dog…
  • Improve an orthopedic walker…
  • Train your grip strength – by squeezing it for reps…
  • Make some DIY earmuffs (just cut it in half)…
  • “Roll out” sore and tense muscles…

…and on and on it goes! You get the idea.

When you follow the conventional wisdom about choosing a niche, it’s very easy to put your brand into a box and limit its growth. To avoid this trap, you can follow one or both of these strategies:

  1. Start with the most lucrative niche and expand. This is a common and highly effective growth strategy: start by offering high-ticket products or services to your most affluent buyers, then use the revenue and credibility to scale into mass market. Tesla and Uber did exactly that in their early days, and many service-based businesses follow this route as well, and for good reason – it works!
  2. Break into a new niche. Rinse and repeat. Compile a list of all the possible niches you could serve with your offer, and target them one at a time. Let’s say that most of your customers use your product or service for one thing. But then you discover a small segment of people who use it for something completely different – and love it. You can deploy a marketing campaign to test one specific assumption: can you acquire more of these customers? It’s an excellent way to grow your brand sustainably without excluding potential sources of new business.

3. “People don’t consume long-form content anymore”

This one is our personal favorite.

When you make marketing videos for a living, you can’t escape this infuriating myth. It usually goes something like this:

“Attention spans are shrinking! Customers pay attention to your message for about 8 seconds – that’s worse than a goldfish!”

For starters, goldfish have excellent attention spans – just ask Felicity Huntington, who studies fish for a living. According to her, goldfish are the “gold standard” (pun totally intended) for studying memory formation and learning. There are hundreds of studies that document how they learn and memorize information – and exactly zero of them mention a poor attention span.

But we’re getting sidetracked. Our point is:

There’s no evidence that your customers have a reduced attention span. So don’t treat them like scatterbrained monkeys high on sugar!

But one major problem you do face is the number of distractions in the immediate environment of your customers – many thousands per day. And that’s a fundamentally different challenge to solve. Fortunately, it’s easier to tackle than trying to fit your entire offer in 8 seconds!

Whether your message is short-form or long-form doesn’t matter. If it’s specific and relevant to what your target market wants, they will allocate the time and attention to absorb it. So instead of fretting over length, concentrate on these things:

  1. Matching your message to your customer’s level of awareness. In other words, instead of making your offer right away, meet them where they are.
  2. Figuring out what they want to read, listen to, or watch, and building your message around that. If it’s valuable, entertaining, and memorable, people will take notice.
  3. Providing the optimal environment for absorbing the message. This is the biggest thing you can do for maximizing conversions.

4. “Marketing messages work best when repeated”

Ah, the old adage about effective frequency. It was bound to show up.

Supposedly, when your target customers see your message once, they will just shrug and move on. But expose them to your offer a bunch more times, and they will drop everything and whip out their credit card!

It’s a very comforting myth: if at first you don’t succeed… try again.

But what’s the magic number, then? Some marketers say that it takes “seven touches” to really get into a customer’s head. Others like Thomas Smith, the author of “Successful Advertising,” maintain that the twentieth time’s the charm.

Is it just us, or does the idea of hammering your target market with your message seven times – let alone twenty – make you shudder too? Well, it should!

Unless you’re a global brand with enough resources to finance a marketing onslaught of that magnitude across different channels, you should focus on capturing your potential customer’s attention in as few interactions as possible: between one and three, tops.

In today’s world that’s overflowing with signals, all competing for your attention, that’s as many chances as most brands can hope for. So how do you make the most of them?

We suggest 4 simple guidelines to follow:

  1. Qualify and capture leads as early as possible. Make a free (or extremely low-cost) offer that would be tempting to your preferred buyers… and useless to everyone else. A lead magnet, a free consultation, a product demo, an audit – anything that would let you capture a lead at the first encounter.
  2. Use retargeting and other money-saving methods. Retargeting is one way to make the idea of effective frequency feasible for a smaller brand. If you want to learn more about retargeting, check out strategy #2 in this post.
  3. Play the long game and nurture your prospects. When you spread 20 interactions across the entire customer lifecycle, the whole idea goes from “absurd” to “quite reasonable.” Only the minority of your potential customers will buy right away. Others will take their sweet time – and that’s fine. But don’t just make the same offer to them again and again in the hopes that one day they will buy. Build a relationship.
  4. Maximize your first impressions. When your message is so compelling you only have to tell it once, it solves a lot of problems. You won’t have to chase your customers far and wide to make the offer again – they will come to you, and the sales process will start. Achieving this is no small feat, however: you need to know your customers well, and your message has to be delivered in a way that grabs attention.

And speaking of first impressions… An explainer video is one of the best ways to convey your marketing message in a way that captivates your audience from the get-go. So if you want to market your product or service in a way that’s memorable and resistant to distractions, it’s impossible to go wrong with whiteboard animation. Just ask these brands!

If you’d like to get some more customized advice from one of our video marketing specialists, sign up for a free, no-strings-attached Pow-Wow today. Enter your name and email below, and one of our marketing ninjas will be with you shortly!

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