A Little Waste & A Lotta Reach


(By Bob McCurdy) As the advertising landscape becomes increasingly complex, it is critical that we elevate our marketing acumen.

Being capable of providing clients with sound marketing advice/direction will increase the likelihood of both their success and ours. This requires all of us to be career-long cutting-edge learners. As Mark Twain once said, “It  ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

We all should be familiar with the three articles below which reinforce the importance of reach and the idea of there being no such thing as a “wasted” ad impression.

The first article focused on how Target stores’ over-targeting contributed to lower sales. They discovered what P&G discovered a year earlier when their chief marketing officer, Marc Pritchard was quoted as saying, “We targeted too much and we went too narrow.” The article appeared in Ad Age and was titled, “Target Broadens Beyond Hispanics, Families with Kids for Holiday”:

But the retailer missed out on some key revenue by not tailoring its messaging to reach a broader audience, executives say. This year, the Minneapolis-based brand is trying to win the holiday season by avoiding the same mistake, forming new marketing partnerships and coming out with wider messaging. 

“We feel like we left a lot of sales on the table last year” [by not marketing to empty nesters, teens and families without kids], said Rick Gomez, executive VP and chief marketing officer, citing Target’s own consumer research. “This is an opportunity to evolve the conversation to be more inclusive.”

The article can be found here.

The other article, also in Ad Age titled, “Is Efficiency Killing Brands?” also spoke to the importance of inclusive marketing:

But this is exactly the problem, because the “wastage” premise ignores the way that brands work. The key to brand success is penetration. As Byron Sharp demonstrates in his book How Brands Grow, the key difference between leading brands and smaller ones is penetration. Loyalty plays a role, but a small one. It is penetration that divides the winners and the also-rans — attracting new people requires “wastage.” You have to reach those who aren’t currently interested.

Building ever-deeper relationships with a few select fans can’t grow business. There are only small gains to be made by increasing loyalty, or getting current buyers to buy more. It’s not increasing loyalty that grows brands, but increasing penetration.

The article can be found here.

The final article appeared in the 10/31 issue of the WARC blog titled, “Marketing is Stuck in First Gear,” and echoed similar sentiments:

There’s a move afoot to use “digital” as a way to drive greater efficiency of communication. To target intent. All well and good, but we’ve forgotten about what makes advertising communications truly effective: the creation of intent in the first place. We’ve forgotten that “waste” is in fact highly valuable when it comes to the creation of valuable, long-lasting, margin-commanding brands. All the work analyzing the IPA Databank by Binet and Field, and the work of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute has shown that growth is predominantly driven by growing penetration, not loyalty.

The article can be found here.

The key takeaways from these three articles:

– As with salt, some targeting is good, too much is not good.

– There is no such thing as waste in marketing due to what’s known as the “Law of Moderation,” which states the non-buyer becomes a buyer, the heavy buyer becomes a lighter buyer and the light buyer becomes a heavier buyer. Consumer circumstances and purchasing behaviors are fluid, not stagnant. As a result, it is important to reach every consumer who has the wherewithal to purchase a product/service regardless of whether they currently purchase/use it or not.

– Companies grow by expanding their customer base not by getting current customers to buy more often. The more consumers who are familiar with a product/service, the greater the chances it will be thought of in buying situations and be purchased and it is almost impossible to be familiar with a product unless “reached” by its advertising. Large sales require large reach.

So when it comes to marketing, product/service “fame” indeed leads to revenue “gain” and nothing is “famous” without a lot of people knowing about it. This requires reach.

Bob McCurdy is The Vice President of Sales for The Beasley Media Group and can be reached at [email protected]


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