Do you feel this way when you buy a car…
you pick out THE car. It has all the latest and greatest features, has that brand new car smell, it has been washed so it shines bright. Everyone will be looking at you driving down the road in your new, unique, awesome car, right? You merge out of the lot into traffic, all happy, only to realize that every car you see is the same car you just bought. You didn’t notice this before you bought the car but now your not so special, not so unique. It’s a sea of sameness.
Brands are no different.
Literally hundreds of studies have been conducted over the years to try and determine how many ads a person is exposed to in a single day. One study I found from 1965 pegged it at around 1,900 and that was way before technology became so pervasive. Now, I cannot even imagine. Another more recent study I read said 3,000, another 5000. Not only is it hard for people to absorb all these messages, consumers now have the technology in their hands, literally, to turn these messages off. I have a sad confession to make. I don’t watch too many TV advertisements and I am in the business of advertising. I am a time displaced TV watcher. Outside of a live sporting event, 95% of my TV viewing is done using my DVR or Netflix. Not unlike many people, an advertiser really has to work hard for me to see their brand, make it stand out above the crowd, communicate its value to me as a consumer and differentiate itself. Another confession. That doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to products that are important to me, like beer commercials.
The main point I want to make here is that you have to find points of differentiation for your product or service that break through all this clutter and make you get noticed by consumers. You then need to stay focused on these messages and not get distracted by what others are saying. If a company does nothing in terms of research, I recommend that they undertake two research projects:
- Segmentation Research. This answers the question, Who is our Target Audience? It is too expensive to target everyone so segmentation studies like MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer can help you identify the hand-raisers who are apt to want your product.
- Brand Perception and Awareness Research. How many people in your target demo, how many are aware of you and what do they think of you versus your competition? If they are not aware of you, they will not consider you.
These two research projects help you do three things: Determine your true target audience, help you understand how many of these people are aware of your product and most importantly, help you create the key messaging points you want to communicate to this audience. You can differentiate your message vs the competition and cut through the clutter. You get away from the sea of sameness.