educational

Marketing to Distracted Consumers

Lee Traupel

The average consumer today is exposed to a deluge of 1,700 marketing messages during a single 24-hour period according to recent advertising industry numbers. Look around you, we marketers have pasted, injected and/or overlaid marketing messages (read advertising) in any possible place imaginable! Case in point, NBC will start to digitally insert commercial "billboards" into advertising content to be broadcast during high-profile events - in essence a commercial within a commercial.

Marketing messages and processes must be condensed, hard-hitting and presented in formats that are easy to understand and digest - not MBA-speak or techno-jargon. Long mission statements with flowery prose simply don't cut it in today's "distracted economy" - customers/clients/partners want to understand what products and services you're selling, at what price and how they are supported.

A one-page company Facts sheet is an essential component of any marketing campaign - it provides a snapshot of essentials about your company including markets addressed, contact points, core technology, products or services sold and business partners. A well-written Fact sheet should be one page and provide just baseline information, without any hyperbole.

Power Point presentations by their very nature force you to distill your information down into bullets and short sentences. Enabling you to make a presentation in a meeting, or have content ready for viewing on a 24/7 basis via your Web site. You can create several iterations of the presentation which can be tailored for customers, partners, investors, etc. - mixing and matching your core 8-12 slides with others that "speak" to different audiences.

I've written several articles on Web-enabled marketing and the need for simplicity when designing a Web site, with content that is tailored for the online community. Many companies are still spending way too much money on Web sites that don't effectively work as an information resource - unfortunately, many of these sites function more as a testament to the designer's ability to use cutting edge software graphics tools.

A great number of Web sites still utilize text that is just pulled from other marketing communication materials, ignoring "rules of the road" for content on the Web - the online community wants information presented in short paragraphs comprised of 2-3 sentences, with lots of white space.

A good Web site should act solely as an appetizer for a four-course meal - whetting the appetites of the viewers and motivating them to take some action that moves them forward in the marketing process such as contacting the company or registering via the Web site for more information.

Speaking of Web site registration - this too should be optimized for today's "information overloaded" customer. Only basic requirements should be requested (name, contact points, interest level) with a Privacy Statement linked via the registration page clearly stating your marketing policy; which you should adhere to without any deviation, or risk the wrath of your customers.

Opt-in e-mail has now become today's marketing methodology du jour - it works and it's cost effective. approximately 50% of opt-in e-mail content is done in HTML (graphics inserted) format and the other 50% in text format. We strongly recommend text format to most of our B2B (business to business) clients - and we utilize a standard format that has generated 8-25% response rates from numerous campaigns we've created.

We structure the e-mail message so it is in three short paragraphs, with customer referenceability built in to the message and we utilize at least 10% of the media buy to test 2-3 different messages. The subject line is one of the most critical elements - it has to get the recipient's attention and cut through the clutter of hundreds (typically) of other messages they will be receiving during a 24-hour period.

So, the executive summary for this entire article can be summarized in three words "less is more" - if you repeat this mantra as you move forward through your marketing processes you should be able to reach today's "distracted customer" in a timely and cost effective manner.

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