Some people just don’t like advertising

I understand everyone isn’t like me. I don’t hate ads. I actually like advertising (well, good advertising) but it probably comes with the job. If you’re reading this, you’re probably in a similar position- but a good chunk of the population think they hate what we do.

Advertising can be disruptive, invasive, and overwhelming. It’s always been here, but in our current digital world it’s getting worse, and harder to escape. I can understand the frustration of my friends who is just tired of getting bombarded. There is a growing segment of prospects (for whatever you sell) that is getting more difficult to connect with. Blocking tools are getting better and there is a growing disengagement with platforms that are simply overwhelmed with ads.

How to reach them?

As much as I love digital marketing, this is where I’m going to say the answer to this problem isn’t always in the tech/data/analysis/software side of marketing, and trying to solve it that way might exacerbate the problem if this is one your brand is facing.

Take a moment to step back from the channel you’re looking at. Look at your brand from far back and remember that ultimately one touch-point isn’t going to sell your product. You close a sale— whether you’re a large B2B company with a 9 month buying cycle or a consumer brand that sells products that cost less than a cup of coffee— when there is a relationship. A prospect doesn’t buy a product they buy from your brand.

Instead of fretting about one particular channel’s weariness spend a few minutes looking at what the entire buying experience may be your prospects. Answer these questions:

  • Where are they learning about your product?
  • What might be the first things they hear?
  • Do their peers know about your product?
  • How much research about your product can they do on their own, and how much do they usually do?
  • When they introduce themselves, what are some of the early message they are getting (email, customer service reps, sales people, etc.)?
  • If asked who else sells a product like yours, would they know? (and if so, how would the different options?)

These are all marketing questions- yet as you start to answer them you’ll notice there are a lot of aspects of your marketing and a prospect’s relationship with your brand that isn’t in the realm of traditional advertising, and will therefore slip through the “I hate ads” filter that a lot of prospects put up.

Some examples

Organic channels are the obvious answer to the question of how to market to people who hate ads. Get comfortable abandoning the predictable money-in-money-out type relationship is the hallmark of paid & instead begin looking at the value your brand can derive from being findable. While SEO & content marketing are of course big players here, some other organic channels you should consider:

  • Review sites: Whatever you sell I can almost guarantee there is an aggregator of reviews for you and your competitors. It may be Consumer Reports, Yelp, Gartner or Forrester, or G2Crowd— someone out there is giving impartial answers to how you stack up with your competition. Spending the time understanding the flow of prospects who visit these sources and determining if there is a way you can partner with the review aggregator will pay off immensely. People who hate ads often use these resources the most, and often down realize the “learn more” button on the page, or the inclusion of a particular brand in a report was accomplished through a paid relationship.
  • Customer service & sales reps: Agreeing to speak with a live person is a pretty big commitment from a buyer— What is your marketing team doing to make sure the “first date” goes well? While it can be a bit tricky navigating the waters of inter-departmental politics, spending effort to make sure all representatives of your company are on brand with the way they interact with customers will pay off when it comes to converting prospects.
  • Transactional interactions: If your business relies on repeat customers, don’t undervalue the marketing potential of transactional interactions (confirmation emails, notices they are about to be billed again, etc.). People who hate ads still will read an email from a vendor they’ve purchased from. While it may be easy to forget about cross selling and up selling when you’ve just closed business with them, these interactions are a great chance to share about other products you offer or build value to increase retention for the product they just purchased.

There isn’t a finite list of ways to connect with prospect who hate ads. What other methods of marketing that wouldn’t be classified as advertising have you found great results with in your experience? Leave a comment below and let me know!

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