How to Reach “The Right People” With Your Advertising

When you work on a marketing campaign, how can you make sure you’re targeting “the right people” with your message – the people who are most likely to do business with you?

Radio advertising sales tip: television reaches the right people, too.

Photo by creative soul/dpc

Advertising salespeople have access to a variety of research tools to make some educated decisions about the kind of people who are listening to, reading, watching, or logging onto their media. And a lot of time, effort and money are spent in trying to pick the vehicle that reaches The Right People.

Here’s a tip:  the problem with this approach is that nobody has an exclusive on The Right People.

The Right People are watching television — a whole lot of television. They are on the Internet — sometimes on a laptop, often on a mobile devise. They listen to the radio. They see billboards. Some still read the newspaper on paper.

Any advertising medium you decide to use will reach some of your target customers, and will miss others.

Further complicating the picture is the fact that very few people make decisions by themselves. People talk to each other and influence each other’s choices. The end user may or may not be the person who decides what to buy.

In large companies, office equipment may be used primarily by administrative personnel. But the sales order may be issued by someone in the purchasing department. And orders over a certain size may need the blessing of the controller or even the CEO. All of those people may even seek advice from colleagues at other companies. When you’re marketing office equipment, what target do you choose?

A few years ago, a Wall Street Journal article revealed how the Phi Beta Kappa college honor society solicits members:

You get a letter during junior or senior year, with congratulations and a request to pay an initiation fee (generally $50 to $90). If you don’t respond, some chapters send a follow-up letter to your parents.”

Who makes the decision to enroll in Phi Beta Kappa – the student or the parents? 

In 2013, the Obama Administration needed to convince adults under 35– the so-called “Young Invincibles” — to buy health insurance. They spent some time and effort targeting them directly, but they also went after their moms.

It might seem counterintuitive that adults, many of whom have left home and started their own families, would be convinced by their aging parents to buy health insurance. But research shows that today’s 20 and 30-somethings — sometimes referred to as “millennials” — are closer to their parents than were adults from earlier generations and still rely on them for important career and other decisions…

“They have just recently left their parents to go to college, they’ve just kind of left the nest, but they’re still very close to their parents and specifically moms,” Brown said. And, even more importantly, “many of these young people are still in some part financially dependent on their parents. That’s when especially the mom enters these decisions.”

You can spend a lot of time agonizing over the question. The beauty and the curse of marketing is that there’s no one right answer. The odds are pretty good that whatever media choice you make (“Elizabeth Warren for President” on  Fox News being a possible exception), you’ll reach a significant number of The Right People, and you’ll miss some others.

Make sure that the people you do reach hear your message often – the more often you talk to someone, the better the chance he’ll give you a call when he has a need.

Then, using the time you saved by not agonizing over your media choice, agonize over your message. Make sure that your story matters to your prospects, that you tell it well, and that you tell it often.

Question: How do you decide who The Right People are for your business? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


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