How to cut through marketing clutter

Marketing clutter refers to the very high volume of advertising messages that the average consumer is exposed to on a daily basis.

"We've gone from being exposed to about 500 ads a day back in the 1970s to as many as 5,000 a day today."

Jay Walker-Smith, Yankelovich Consumer Research

There are some fairly frightening statistics floating around the marketing publications stating the number of promotional messages that are competing for consumer's attention every day. Regardless of whether the figure is 3,000 or 30,000, it is clear that businesses need to do something fairly special to be noticed on a large scale. Even if people do happen to cast their eyes on your advertising messages, whether they actually take any notice or process the information is a different matter.

So, how do you get noticed in the crowded modern marketplace?

Make your ads appealing

Engage with customers emotional or practical needs

Certain themes strike an emotional chord with the vast majority of the population. Cold reading con-artists use such themes successfully to create the illusion of mind reading. These wide appealing subjects can be used in marketing to make the message strike a personal note while generating interest with the widest possible audience. Examples of such themes include love, money, health, career, hopes and dreams. However, if you're product simply won't appeal to the emotional side of people's characters, you'll need to try a more practical approach. The features and benefits of a product are usually the focus of practical advertising, and although these may not be as exciting as more emotive subjects, they can appeal equally well to the customer if executed correctly.

Use media effectively

Mass media such as TV, billboards, radio and posters are all completely saturated with marketing messages and competition is high, and this makes them costly.

"You cannot walk down the street without being bombarded"

Bob Garfield, advertising writer

Media space is usually priced depending on the number of people who are likely to see your advert, however it's much more important to be noticed by the right people rather than simply playing a numbers game. Consider who your target audience are and target them in as finer resolution as you can. Writing 10 highly targeted letters to individuals may be much more effective than sending out 1000 using a mass mailing approach.

Fight dirty – try new approaches to promotion

It is unlikely many new businesses will be able to compete on a mass media scale with larger, more established companies so you might consider using some new techniques. Innovative approaches to marketing are evolving every day but these are some of the most popular:

  • Guerrilla marketing is a term for the most daring approaches to advertising. Many ideas have been tried, including illuminating buildings, sponsoring car, or even sky diving into a stadium with a branded parachute. Possibility for PR exposure is high.
  • Experiential marketing involves physical interaction with individuals using live events. If done well, these can be the most powerful marketing medium so are well worth considering.
  • Viral ads require clever thinking and a fair amount of luck – but a successful viral can bring vast amounts of attention to a business or product. Ensure the ad is humorous, shocking or likely to generate strong opinions.

91% of marketing professionals felt that they could "save money and better impact consumers by being more innovative about the media they use"

Jack Morton 2009 Marketer's Survey

Remember - gaining exposure is great but you need to generate sales, so when designing a campaign consider things from the customer's point of view.

Ensure the message is obvious and easy to achieve

If people do take notice of you, it is vital that your message is clear. Consider the next steps you would like the potential customer to take, whether this is dialing a number, visiting a website or even turning on their Bluetooth. Make it obvious what you're offering and make it as easy as possible for customers to achieve the goal, which this means looking at your internal processes. Are people aware of the promotion internally? Are the distribution channels set up? Is the call centre fully briefed? Even the best produced adverts can fall on deaf ears if the message isn't clear and appealing.

Final words

Breaking into a new marketing or expanding your market share can be a daunting task, however with clever thinking and a clear approach you will be able to attract the attention of customers, and help them take the next step towards purchase.

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