When Did Broadcasting Become a Dirty Word?

ensmedia-logoWayne Ens

There is an old story about the Jaguar sales person who lost a sale to rocker ‘Rompin Ronnie Hawkins’ because he pre-qualified him.

The successful rockabilly singer did not want for cash, but didn’t look like a typical Jaguar customer when he entered the Toronto dealership with his long hair, a beard, and tattered jeans.

The legend goes that when Ronnie seated himself in a Jaguar on the showroom floor, a jaded sales person asked him to leave.

Ronnie did leave, only to return with a shopping bag full of cash. He promptly marched into the sales manager’s office, dumped the cash on his desk, and said “I’m buying that Jaguar on one condition….that salesperson gets no commission!”

Every seasoned sales person knows the pain of losing a sale in their rookie days because they disqualified or pre-unqualified a prospect who later bought from a competitor. Advertisers who restrict their reach to pre-qualified targets are also missing sales.

New technologies and alleged ‘big data’ have made reaching the masses via  broadcasting or other mass media, dirty words in some circles. Advertisers are being lured by the ability to narrowcast and to finely target their marketing.

The ability to ‘target’ more finely beyond the masses is appealing, particularly to those who cringe at the old Wannamaker quote, “I know half my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half.”

But fine tuning your targeting by geography, demographics, or psychographics, or any other pre-conceived qualifiers, ignores a few realities;

  1. The market is not narrowly defined by geography, especially for big-ticket purchases. RV dealers know that customers will drive hundreds of miles to capture the motorhome they want. And a consumer who lives on one side of a market often works and shops on the other side of the market.
  2. ‘Targeting’ end-users, buyers or decision-makers, ignores the role key influencers play in buying decisions. Millennials often ask the advice of their more experienced parents, and car dealers will tell you that husbands might sign the check, but they won’t do so without consulting their wives.
  3. The market, and people, changes rapidly. New jobs, increases or decreases in incomes, changes in marital situations and many other factors can turn an unqualified prospect into a qualified prospect overnight. In fact, the average market population with deaths, divorces, career moves, marriages and births, turns over at the rate of 20% per annum.
  4. Preaching to the converted will help advertisers maintain their customer base and today’s sales, but there will always be a certain amount of attrition that must be replaced. Reaching beyond their current ‘target’ is where their longer term growth will come from.

In my own marketing, I publish a free weekly tip targeted at broadcast sales managers, called Ens on Sales, but I welcome broadcast account executives as well, because many of them who subscribed several years ago are now sales managers.

Roy Williams says the over-confidence in qualitative targeting is one of the causes of advertising failure.  Roy says “It’s amazing how many people become the right people when you are saying the right thing.”

Let’s not let advertisers be blinded by the light of shiny new things, and sell them on the merits of reaching beyond those who are allegedly unqualified today, to reaching everyone who might be qualified tomorrow.