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Start advertising with the individual

I recently read a column in a 25-year-old engineering magazine where the author (an engineer) described his neat system of sending out RFQs to a dozen suppliers by fax, saving him hours of time and allowing him to contact twice as many companies. It came from an age where the main objective of advertising was to make sure prospects knew you were there, and let them do the rest.

There have been many changes in the marketing/consumer relationship over recent years, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that the direction in which we’re heading inexorably is one where the marketer needs to be more empathetic. We need to earn our prospects’ trust and attention with useful pitches that are worth their time. ‘Spray and pray’ advertising, where the product or the manufacturer is the focus, has become an ineffective waste of money. If we can’t demonstrate that we can identify the prospect and understand the issues they face, they won’t give us their time.

How we tackle this will vary, but a ‘bottom up’ approach is interesting, where you start by imagining you’re having to write an individual, tailored sales message to every prospect, then gradually create groups who can receive the same message, through whatever medium is appropriate.