It’s a commonly accepted maxim in marketing that potential customers must be exposed to your message at least eight times before they will act. In other words, people need to become “familiar” with your business before they begin doing business with you.
One of the reasons why it’s so important to adopt a niche marketing strategy is that all of us are bombarded by thousands of advertising messages each day. In response, the brain quickly scans and analyzes all of these messages as they come in. The brain alerts you as to which messages you need to notice and which you don’t. When potential customers are in the market for your product or service, the filter comes off. Suddenly, your prospective customers are primed and ready to read, hear and see your message.
To illustrate this principle in action, think of a product or service that you need only occasionally, such as roofing. Unless you own multiple properties, you probably won’t need a roofer’s services more than a couple of times in your lifetime, so chances are you probably don’t know much about the roofers in your area.
If you’re like most consumers (and remember, we want to view this from the customer’s point of view), you’ll begin the process of choosing a roofer long before you pick up the Yellow Pages or search the internet. You’ll begin by becoming aware of every home you pass that is having their roof replaced. Your ears will “prick up” in stores when the word “roofer” is mentioned. Suddenly, the home improvement center ads are catching your attention. Then – one fateful day – you’ll open the yellow pages to find a “roofing contractor.”
This is in direct contrast to what your yellow pages sales rep will tell you. He/she will tell you that is where customers turn for information. They don’t. The Yellow Pages are your “last stop” on the path to purchasing.
By the time you’re scanning the Yellow Pages, the decision has been made that you NEED a new roof. If you’re not sure which roofer you’ll choose, the first thing you’ll do is scan the listings for a name that sounds familiar. If none of the companies listed rings a bell in your mind, then you’ll look at the largest, most colorful ad and go from there.
However, if one name is familiar, chances are you’ll call that number. Even if the ad is small, the familiarity of the name gives you the confidence to choose that listing and make the call.
The “finding a roofer” exercise illustrates why you can’t measure the effectiveness of specific advertising media by surveying your customers.
In this case, if you were to call any roofer listed in the yellow pages, and if he were to ask how you found him, you would say you found his business in the yellow pages. But the truth is you chose his business from all the other businesses listed in the yellow pages because you’d heard of him before you ever opened the phone book. The biggest four color ad in the yellow pages could only have caused you to pick up the phone if no other roofer had built “brand awareness” by using other media for advertising.
You may think you found the roofer because of his ad in the yellow pages, but what you don’t recognize is that you probably encountered his other advertising efforts at least seven times before you picked up the phone. Because roofing is a Major Sale, you’ll take the time and effort to research your decision. Your filters will allow each and every message about roofing to enter your brain. Your ears will perk up when you hear strangers talking in the market. You’ve literally become an information SPONGE when it comes to roofing as the fateful day approaches and you choose a roofer. The thing is, you probably aren’t even conscious that this is happening!
The same thing happens with YOUR customers. By the time your customer is opening the yellow pages or going to the internet searching for the products or services YOU provide, the odds have already been heavily stacked in someone’s favor. Whose favor depends upon which businesses understand that the yellow pages and the internet are the last steps on the path to purchasing.
Becoming familiar to your customers is an essential key in creating successful marketing campaigns. When you’re familiar – they’re more likely to choose you.