There have always been two components to great advertising — selecting and delivering your message through the right media outlets and communicating a message that compels your prospects to come into your store.
Due to shifting demographics and rapidly developing new technologies, there exists today a new reality in advertising and marketing. Below are a few examples of dynamic shifts that have altered the modern advertising/marketing landscape:
• Not long ago, NBC, CBS and ABC were the three dominant networks. Today, they no longer dominate and there are now over 900 cable stations.
• We are at the cusp of the development of private opt-in television channels that will be available through the Internet, viewed exclusively on your computer or mobile device.
• Print Yellow Pages are now almost extinct. E directories and the use of mobile data lists have replaced them.
• The U.S. newspaper industry lost $7.5 billion in revenue last year. Many continue struggling to survive.
• Smartphones are rapidly developing as an effective direct marketing tool. QR codes allow consumers to scan special offers and product specifics at the store level.
• Facebook, founded in 2004, has 750 million active users, and 50 percent of them log on to Facebook on any given day. The average user has 130 friends. In total, people spend more than 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.
• There are more than 106 million accounts on Twitter. The number of users increases 300,000 every day, with 3 billion requests per day generated by 180 million unique visitors.
• Ethnic minorities in the United States are projected to come into the majority by 2042.
• The median age in the United States is 36.5 years old.
The fact remains that Generations X and Y are the new buying core, and these generations derive their entertainment and information differently from their parents. Time moves forward, bringing radical new technologies into the mainstream, resulting in a technology creep that is being embraced by the older generations. Once dominated by youths, Facebook usage has dramatically expanded into an older demographic, and almost all of us, young and old, jump on the computer when looking for products or services.
Baby Boomers’ Perspective
Gen X and Y have grown up in a world that is constantly bombarding them with electronic messaging of all types — from automobile sales to the mainstream pushing of erectile dysfunction pills to political advertising — that comes at the viewer constantly, fast and from all angles.
The Baby Boomer viewers “remember when,” which enables them to have a perspective of the world when it was simple. Gen X and Y do not have this perspective. Do all of the hype and action blind viewers and turn them off? I believe to some extent, they do.
They certainly flip channels. Perhaps the consumer is not interested in product offerings until the consumer is in the market for that product. But how do you present a message that doesn’t get lost, doesn’t whiz by in the fast traffic on the electronic messaging highway?
Understanding Gen X and Y
As advertisers who are trying to get our message out, a message that will be compelling enough to sell our products and enhance our brands, we must gain an understanding of the new consumer. Through extensive research we have gained tremendous behavioral insights, but the fact still remains that there are advertisements and campaigns that are ineffective. We have all at one time or another, after viewing an ad, scratched our head and asked ourselves, “What was that all about?”
“If you’re selling the things that Betty buys, better see the world through Betty’s eyes” is a fundamental truth when we work with clients in our agency. We must have clear vision when it comes to understanding Betty. Professional research groups and behavioral psychologists produce invaluable data that enlightens, but it can still be incomplete when we are speaking about your customer in your market.
Companies that take research in-house generally have a better understanding that their decision-making capabilities are enhanced if they understand their customer. Formulating homegrown research is a relatively simple process, but the difficulty comes from sticking to the project commitment and enforcing the discipline that it takes to gather and collate the findings.
Once a research-gathering system becomes an ongoing part of your business operations, the data need to be dissected and interpreted. All of this in the quest to find and understand who your prospects are, where they are and what compels them to buy your products and services.
In search of the “New Reality,” your homegrown research should be looking for the answers to the following general questions:
• Who is your customer?
• Where and when do they derive their information and entertainment?
• What compels them to do business with a company? Is it that they share core values with that company?
• In relation to your competitors, how are you viewed?
Keep It Simple, Believable
If Gen X and Y are our core consumer, we’d better understand where we need to reach them and, as important, what type of messaging will compel them to try our products at least once. Over the years we have found one simple axiom that works with the younger generation — tell the truth.
Gen X and Y, because they have been cultivated in an environment of hyper-information, have strongly honed senses for what is true and what is not. The days of 50-percent-off sales are waning fast.
If you’re trying to get people to try your service or product or store with tricks, you’re missing the point. Gimmicks tend to be discourteous and, ultimately, keep people away. Compelling, honest messaging has the opposite effect. People like to be treated as intelligent and respond in kind. It’s time to get back to basics.
Really think about your business. At its core are there fundamental differences that separate you from your competition? These are the features that first appealed to your existing customers when they were prospects. They are the qualities that compelled them to try your product or service for the first time…and they are the reasons that keep them coming back.
These points of differentiation are the simple truths of your business. Combined, they represent your brand.
With today’s shifting demographics and rapidly changing new technologies, the simpler and more honest the message the better, particularly when speaking to younger generations that are impervious to grand statements and promises that sound too good to be true.
Ed Borowsky is CEO of Monarch Advertising. He can be reached by email.