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Earlier this week I was listening to Lindsey Stirling, my new favorite artist, on Pandora.  A commercial came on that served as a terrible ad and a great example.  The commercial was promoting a limited-time sale on lasik surgery.  The commercial was not great, but it wasn't the worst.  What struck me about it was how incredibly un-targeted it was.  Here's the thing ... Lindsey Stirling plays the violin with a hip-hop beat.  This is super trendy stuff, right?  It's got hipster written all over it.  The only problem for the lasik company is this: Hipsters love their glasses.  They don't want to stop wearing them.  Some of them wear them even without needing them.  So, where did the lasik company go wrong?

No Target

One might be tempted to assume that they simply didn't know their target audience.  With the limited information I've given, that's a fair assumption.  However, I have heard this commercial on every Pandora station!  It's not that they have the wrong target, they have absolutely no target!  They are literally pushing this sale everywhere they can, trying to reach the largest audience they can.  "But," you might protest "that's not a bad thing, is it?"  Well, most of the time it is, but not always.  Here are three things to consider.

It's not top of mind.
Blanket marketing is just fine when your goal is top of mind.  If Burger King wants to be at the time of my mind when I hear the word hamburger, it really doesn't matter if I'm in the market for lunch or not.  However, when you are pushing a specific product or worse, as is the case above, a specific time-limited sale it is never worth while.

It costs too much.
When it comes to buying ad space, you are paying for impressions.  Really, no matter how you slice it, you are paying for each exposure.  You can call it per-month or per-click or per-whatever-you'd-like, but in the end you are paying for exposure.  If you have a limited time to push a sale and limited resources to spend on that push then you are wasting money every time that ad is exposed to someone who isn't going to buy.  Look at it like this: If you buy 100 exposures and spread them out over 50 people everyone has 2 exposures.  If half of those people will never buy your product you have wasted half of your resources.

It gains too little.
There is no return when you advertise to an uninterested target audience.  (The exception to this rule is when making an investment, but this too goes back to top of mind.)  Presumably, there are those out there who have great potential to buy your product.  Provided you have a good ad, they are more likely to purchase your product each time they are exposed to that ad.  This means that if you buy 100 exposures and spread them out over 50 people everyone has 2 exposures, but if 25 people need 3 exposures to be convinced to purchase your product you have lost half of your revenue.

Target

When you have a target and know where to find them you can spend less, gain more and build better relationships in the process.  Don't just flood the market; you're wasting your money and getting on my nerves.