It’s obvious: if you want people to react to your marketing activity, they are probably going to have to hear your message several times.
Hold on though. It’s not obvious to everyone. If it was, Lava would not meet disappointed online retailers who, despite launching their site two years ago, are dissatisfied with the number of sales they’ve made. We wouldn’t meet retailers whose product has not flown off the shelf, even though they issued a press release when the new must-have item first came into stock – and even took a single quarter page advert to give the campaign even more reach. We wouldn’t meet the event organiser who, with just two weeks to go, still has half of the seats available despite spending a few pounds on online advertising.
Perhaps one reason for people being disappointed is that they have unrealistic expectations about just how much competition there is for attention. Maybe it’s because brand owners and businesses don’t have a realistic view on how appealing their offer is to people. Or it could be that they just don’t know how to tell their story more than once or how to add extra chapters to their tale. Perceived budget limitations could also be holding them back.
It’s probably a combination of all of these factors that leads to many disappointments. Many of these disappointments could be avoided if people thought of their product, service or event as being a living thing: a newborn baby or a bulb that has just sprouted through the ground.
If either the child or the plant are going to reach maturity, then they are going to need food, care and attention. Left alone and both will not see a happy ending. So, how do you find a way of feeding your newborn, by repeating your message and telling your story in new ways?
Firstly, realise that what you are trying to build will take twice as long as you think it will, and will most likely grow at half the rate you think it will.
Secondly, don’t assume people are actually listening to you. Not everyone will be interested in you. In fact, most people are deaf to marketing. They don’t want to hear sales messages.
With a realistic view of how quickly you can grow, you’ll be more likely to commit to longer-term marketing activity – and when you realise that marketing is an ongoing process, you can then begin thinking about how you can repeat your message.
You will look at your business or organisation and make a note of its birthday, anniversaries and possible milestones – like reaching a certain number of product sales or employees, the number of customers you have now and when you might reach 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 live accounts. You will look at these milestones as opportunities to talk about your success.
You will also look outside of your world and take notice of what’s going on around you. You’ll look at television programmes, events, trends and fads and, while looking at these, will be thinking about how you can exploit them to develop another opportunity to talk about yourself.
You will be looking at your customers and taking note about how they are changing and whether they still need and want what you have to offer. Successful businesses and organisations, change in line with their customers’ needs. And, if you change, you have another thing to talk about.
And if there’s nothing to respond to or use as a springboard, then you need to think about what you can do proactively. What can you do that will make people take notice?
One thing is for sure, and although it contradicts what I said at the start about being repetitive, it’s true. If you keep banging on about the same things and telling the same story over and over again, people will think you’re boring and will stop listening.
The challenge is to find new ways of reminding people what you have to offer. If you don’t do this, then don’t be surprised if things don’t go as well as you expected. And if you find yourself running out of ideas, then there are lots of people, such as your customers, friends, family members and even agencies, like Lava, who will be happy to give you some feedback.
Matt Hammerton is managing director of Lava, an award-winning integrated marketing agency based in Lincoln. With 17 years’ PR and marketing experience gained at PR Week Top 150 consultancies and in-house with a commercial radio station group, Matt has devised and led successful campaigns for a myriad of clients.