Once is Not a Marketing Campaign

If I had a dollar for the number of times that a business owner told me they tried marketing once and it didn’t work for them, I would be driving a much nicer car.

Marketing is not like lima beans, you can’t try them once and make a decision on the spot that it doesn’t work for you. Yet I continue to run into businesses who use that excuse when I suggest that better or more targeting marketing efforts might improve their bottom line. I try to give the benefit of the doubt when meeting a new biz owner and assume that they are at least doing something — thus the suggestion that there might be room for improvement — but that isn’t always the case.

One direct mail campaign, one e-mail blast or one display ad is, for a great many, a waste of money. There are lots of rules about the number of impressions required before your audience recognizes and reacts to your offer — with somewhere between 3 and 7 as the rule of thumb — but the general idea here is that you have to keep plugging along.

The first time your audience sees your message they may not even recognize it. The second time it may trigger some kind of awareness of the product category or offering. Hopefully by the third time they’ll remember your name.

The key is not only awareness and recognition but being in the right place at the right time: when your best prospect is ready to make a purchase decision. Sure, once in a while those single wave campaigns actually land in the lap of a prospect at the right time and they get the business. But this is pure luck that rides on the back of a competitor that already established awareness and education for the product category.

When I worked for a direct marketing firm, we typically planned all campaigns in 3 waves. Today we encourage clients who want to see the greatest ROI to invest only in programs that they can sustain for a full year.

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