Tell most businesses and marketers to place an ad, and they’ll put it just where you’d think. A car ad gets thrown at people searching for new cars, or people in the right age bracket to buy a new car. An ad for new business software goes in trade magazines and business news sites. Maybe a few ads get put on their competitor’s searches, or they find a few little insights from Google Analytics that lead to a slightly new audience. But all these businesses and marketers are missing out on the potential of creative marketing to bring in new potential customers.
In the past, creative ad positioning was a risky proposition. Sure, putting luxury wine advertisements in a car magazine might have brought in a few new customers who are interested in both, or who might not have considered wine before, but there was never any way to know for sure. Although marketers now have a vast wealth of data at their fingertips that should’ve led them to a golden age of creative ad placement, most of them still follow the same old tried-and-true tricks, targeting by demographics and related interests.
Those willing to take a few risks can take advantage of the age of big data analysis and advanced targeting techniques. By using methods such as psychographics, you no longer have to guess about the results of creative ad placements to reach customers. You can now design these into marketing campaigns, increasing your customer base by drawing in people from far afield who you didn’t even know were potential customers.
The Bad Old Days of Marketing
Targeting ad placements for products and services with broad appeal has never been all that difficult. Old-fashioned magazines and television channels were full of ads for cars, watches, perfume, clothes, cleaning products and food because these were the products with mass appeal. Of course, marketers with cleaning products and women’s underwear were more likely to target women’s magazines and TV programs, and marketers with sports cars and suits were more likely to focus on men’s magazines and TV programs. However, their methods were blunt in the extreme.
In those bad old days, marketers trying to get niche products off the ground often had problems trying to get their ads in front of people who would care. Marketers could be pretty sure somebody watching soaps during the day might be interested in the newest washing machine, but where exactly do you advertise the latest in brushless electric motors for DC devices under 9 volts? A trade magazine was probably that company’s best bet, but by relying on that they might have missed out on various opportunities with even more niche audiences, such as model train enthusiasts, high-school robotics nerds, and the 15 people trying to replace their bathroom fan’s dead motor during the middle of a Louisiana heat wave.
How to Look Beyond Obvious Marketing Campaigns and Ad Placements to Reach More Customers
“Be inscrutable as night; be swift as thunder and lightning … Appear where you are unexpected.”
–Sun Tsu, ancient Chinese military strategist
Sometimes marketers find potential customers in the oddest of places. In 2011, Adweek reported that Barnum & Bailey was advertising on web pages for coulrophobia . That is, a circus was advertising on pages dedicated to the fear of clowns. Ridiculous right? Maybe not so much as it seems. First of all, not everyone visiting a page about coulrophobia has an irrational fear of clowns. Many may be people interested in clowns and want to know why some people are irrationally afraid of them. And perhaps some of the people visiting those pages who do have coulrophobia might be willing to attend the circus to face their fear. That’s a standard tool used by therapists to get people past debilitating anxieties.
The thing is, in the bad old days, Barnum & Bailey’s marketers would never have been able to know if this oddball marketing strategy was worthwhile. Did ticket sales go up because people with coulrophobia are suddenly facing their fears, or was it one of the hundred other ad placements that were responsible for the uptick? But now, with the wealth of big data provided by the internet, marketers no longer have to guess. Now they can analyse the data and see which creative ad placements work.
There are two main ways to design creative ad placements to reach new customers in your marketing campaigns:
Brainstorm new placements by hand.
Take out your scrap pad and scribble or flowchart or mash out all the possible ways consumers can use your product and all the customers who might use it, even if they are outside the normal range of customers. Some of this will be obvious as you work through your list, such as the robotics enthusiasts who might be interested in small electric motors but to expand beyond that, try to imagine the opposite of who you regular customer is.
It might not be so far out to advertise men’s watches to women or women’s underwear to men. People buy gifts for each other. People who are afraid of clowns sometimes face their fears. For the moment, throw everything you’ve got at the wall. You can narrow the list of potential customers and ad placements to real options later.
Take advantage of big data analysis, machine learning and psychographics.
If you already have customer data from previous campaigns, now is the time to take advantage of modern data analysis techniques. First, have a manual, check the data, looking for the obvious. Who are the people clicking on your ads? What are their demographics, and what are their other interests on Facebook, or their other searches on Google?
If you have the capability or the budget to hire a service, you can also start to build a personality profile of your potential customers using psychographics, which–instead of looking at the basics of who someone is, like their age–can use customer activity and interests to build a personality profile. These psychographic personality profiles will help you fine-tune ad placements and reveal potential customers through the incredible pattern recognition capabilities of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Putting Oddball Ad Placements and Marketing Data Together
Thanks to the internet, you should know right away if your out-of-the-box thinking is working. Never mind that each ad placement is many times less expensive than traditional television, radio and print ads, making the whole process much less risky. You can test dozens of creative ad placements for minimal cost, and even if only a few of them capture new potential customers, those are potential customers that your competitors probably haven’t found.
Once you’ve done some ad placements to attract more customers, feed that new data back through the two-step process above. Brainstorm new potential placements based on the interests and personalities of your new customers, further refining the true potential reach of your product. If you’re using machine learning data analytics, the system will be able to find different creative placements, but even with pen and pad brainstorming the possibilities are close to endless as long as you keep cycling back through the process after each round of test placements.
Don’t stick your marketing campaign in the mud with safe ad placements. Sure, these placements might be safe, but they’re not going to take the product or the brand anywhere new, and they’ll be up against all the usual competitors. With the instant feedback and data analysis now provided by internet advertising, there’s no reason not to look beyond standard placements.
You may as well try something new since the test costs are so low. If even a few creative ad placements tap into something new, you’ll be the first to know. You’ll be the first to take advantage of a previously untapped resource of potential customers.
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