Image courtesy of Freeimages.com John de Boer

One of my favourite expressions to describe poor marketing is “spray and pray”. This is a trap many amateur marketers fall in to: the “if we chuck it out there, someone might see it, and if we’re lucky, that someone might be someone who wants to buy our product!”. In a word, use the spray gun approach and pray it his your target.

Why does this matter? Who cares if you “spray and pray”, as long as you get results eventually? The reasons I think it matters are:

1. It’s a waste of time, money and effort; something small to medium sized businesses don’t tend to have a lot of.

2. It can irritate people who are “collateral damage”; those who aren’t your target market but are subjected to marketing they aren’t interested in. They might not be in your target market but they will probably know people who are and can express an opinion that may negatively prejudice these targets against your business.

So what is the alternative? It’s what all professional marketers aim for: targeted, thought through marketing. How can you achieve that though?

First, every piece of marketing should have a purpose.
It should be designed to make people either think, do or feel something. This could be as basic as “They laugh at my ad so feel happy” “They want to contact us for more information”. Have one main purpose for each piece of marketing.

Next, decide who this marketing is targeted at and tailor it to them.
So if you are advertising to reach a new audience, people who have never heard of your product or business before, think about what they need to know. Do they need reassurance that you are a genuine business? How can you provide that reassurance in the content of your marketing?

Make your marketing part of a coherent plan.
Marketing is there to support the sales process at every step. Plan each piece of marketing and see how it all fits in to achieving your business goals.

Measure how successful each piece of marketing is
As part of deciding what the purpose of each piece of marketing is, decide how to measure it. Sometimes it’s easy, such as “xxxx number of webhits”, sometimes it’s harder- how do you measure if someone has seen your advert in a magazine? It could be a combination of measurements, such as an increase in web hits for the time after the ad has appeared, the number of people typing your web address directly into a browser, the number of people who call your business…the measurements depend on the purpose of the marketing: if you are creating a campaign to increase repeat business, measure the amount of repeat business.

Spray and pray or a targeted, honed marketing campaign that delivers results? I know which I would choose.

Kara Stanford, Strategic Marketing Consultant, KMS Marketing

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