(This column first appeared on RIMOFTHEWORLD.net on March 28, 2011.)
Last week in the restroom at Costco, I managed to activate the automatic soap dispenser, which efficiently delivered one gallon of foam onto my waiting hands. But, as is typical, despite flailing my appendages wildly in front of the sensor at numerous angles, I failed to convince the faucet that I was an actual human being in desperate need of rinsed hands.
Since the paper towel dispenser was also an automated model which refused to cooperate, I kicked open one of the stall doors and grabbed 57 toilet seat covers, which popped out in one solid chunk, and tried, in vain, to wipe the liquid coating from my hands. Then, I watched in horror as a tiny five-year-old girl approached the sink and navigated all of the automated equipment entirely without incident.
Looking back, I remain convinced my troubles were not the result of any mental defect or motor skill-related disability but simply a matter of perspective. I failed to trigger the sensors so they were not aware of my presence. Are potential customers aware of yours?
I often meet entrepreneurs who wrongfully assume that their existing advertising campaign is working simply because they have an ad campaign. But where you are advertising is just as important as the method you are using. And, while my marketing columns don’t usually delve into metaphysics, this aspect of marketing begs the question of unperceived existence, first posed by philosopher George Berkeley, who is believed to have authored the now-famous riddle:
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Don’t make the mistake of investing big bucks in a marketing plan that might never reach your target market. With a little research on the front end, you will be able to maximize your Return on Investment with any marketing budget.
Trial and error is the best way to test advertising strategies when you are counting pennies. The method is so effective, in fact, that even corporate giants, who have access to millions of dollars, rely on it. Like casting a line and waiting to see if anything will bite, if you are using the right bait, you can try several different places to fish until you discover the perfect spot.
And, no matter your product or service, the best place to start testing your advertising is in Cyberspace. Why? Almost 78% of people who live in North America are online each day, according to the World Internet Usage Statistics website. Where else could your advertisements boast that reach?
- According to Pew Research, only 39% of people read a newspaper each day.
- The Association of Magazine Media say that while 85% of American adults read at least one magazine per month, most are opting for the electronic versions of their favorite publications.
- MSNBC reports that teens and young adults spend more time online than watching TV.
On a Limited Budget—
A little market research can go a long way in helping you pinpoint your online audience. Where Neilsen was once unchallenged in the sophisticated collection and evaluation of television viewing information, Forrester is emerging as the gold standard for Internet market research.
You can pay either of these or lesser-known, less expensive firms on retainer or per project. Although spending money on research might not thrill you, the promise of discovering your target market’s habits so you can effectively communicate with them should.
The Sky’s the Limit—
If you have the luxury of doing so, cover all of the bases like the big guys:
- Coca Cola advertises in newspapers and magazines; on television, radio and billboards; and via Facebook, Twitter and with free Android and iTunes Applications.
- Subway does nauseatingly blatant product placements on The Biggest Loser, sponsors marathons and holds contests on an interactive companion-website they call FreshBuzz.
- Dawn Dish Soap donates $500,000 each year to help save wildlife, provides prizes to contestants on Food Network, partners with bloggers to push household cleaning products and publicly supports large-scale oil-spill clean ups.
And, lucky for them, they manage to do it all without getting their hands dirty.
Until next time, I’ll be Bowling for Business.