Do you watch television? Listen to the radio? How about use the internet? Or go outside? If you participate in any of these activities, than you are being inundated with ads. When I wake up in the morning, the very first sound I hear is the advertising on the radio alarm. When I head out the door for work, I pass too many billboards to count. My morning e-mail is flooded with offers, ads, and exclamation points indicating that I should “act now!” Surfing the web means pop up ads, banner ads, or those weirdo short commercials you need to watch before you can access a video. Ads are everywhere, and the human brain simply cannot absorb them all. I tried to do a little research and find out how many ads the average American is exposed to and found several studies ranging from 600 to 3,000 ads per day.
On the internet the ads that we see are now targeting us – by our demographics, by our search history, by our friends, and by our interests. Ever notice that when you are planning a wedding, you see hundreds of wedding related offers? Thinking about a move? You’ll see ads for movers, rental trucks, even real estate agents…Remember election season? All you had to do was search for a candidate’s position on an issue and you’d find yourself swimming in campaign ads! We used to just watch TV and see whatever ad some experts elected to run based on the show’s audience. Now, we are studied on an individual level, analyzed, and provided with the ads that fit us as people. The ads have gotten smarter…They are learning…
So, what does this mean for you? If you run a business or organization, it means you are competing in a different arena. We are all advertised to so much that it’s taking better and better advertising to actually reach us. If you want to be noticed, you have to truly make an impact on the potential consumers. Some organizations tend to think this means well targeted ads. Some think this means sheer volume of ads. Some think that it means eye-catching, shocking or emotionally jarring ads that capture someone’s attention. All of these strategies will get some results, but I firmly believe that, where social media is concerned, authenticity is king. Because, the truth is, we’re tired of being manipulated. Consumers today display less brand loyalty than their predecessors because brands just don’t mean that much to us. We want a positive experience. We want to be treated as people and to receive service from…people.
A year ago I bought a computer from a techy website I found through a Google search. When I got to the site, I noticed that there was a feed featuring links to employee blogs on all sorts of computer related topics. I noticed employee reviews of different products. I noticed the option to chat with a salesperson. I noticed links to employees’ Facebook and Twitter pages. It was apparent from this site that employees were excited about their products. Their writing wasn’t always perfect or polished – but it was passionate. It was authentic. The website wasn’t just trying to sell computers. It was trying to contribute to the general knowledge of the field. And this, this really struck me.
Let’s contrast that with another experience I had. I was tasked with purchasing a piece of office equipment for my day job last year. I found a company that could provide the equipment we needed for below the price we wanted to pay. I went on their Facebook page and noticed they had several negative reviews. This wasn’t the turn off, though. What bothered me was the response to each review. The company used the exact same cookie-cutter reply every time! There was no character. No spunk. Just a corporate tagline and a sales pitch.
Making your marketing stand out doesn’t need to be difficult. The advice your mom gave you on the first day of school is just as relevant as it has always been – Be yourself, have fun, and talk with the other kids. Marketing is about engagement, and engagement is what will set you apart from all of the other ads competing for eyeball space.