Marketing’s Dangerous Echo Chamber

Marketing echo chamber definedMarketing by echo chamber can kill your business.  Its not just small business owners who believe everyone thinks and acts just like them.  Marketing agencies can be swept away too.

Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct :

“far too many (business ad decisions) ad agency decisions are based on personal preference and neighborly anecdote. It also explains the ad biz obsession with digital – resulting in spending that far outpaces it’s effectiveness.”

An echo chamber is a place where you hear only your own voice coming back to you in a delayed fashion.  Generally, its a fun experience.  Maybe you can even remember the first time your heard that kind of an echo as a kid.  Harmless fun.

Death by Echo Chamber Marketing

When it comes to your marketing, the echo chamber will kill your business.  Entrepreneurs have the worst problem with echo chambers.  The business they created with their own hands, their own ideas, and their own sweat is endangered by the very skill set that enabled them to take the risk.

Here are a few symptoms of echo chamber Marketing.

  • Your revenue is stagnant or down
  • You only listen to pitches from people you know
  • You think everyone uses media like you
  • You are going to run the same promotions next year you did this year
  • You think you are the smartest person in the room

There are great local examples of echo chamber marketing in Billings.  Almost any purchase of time on either cable supplier is a definition of echo chamber.  Expecting a cable ad buy to make your business improve is akin to putting your life savings on 36 red and spinning the wheel.  The usage of cable is so low gambling might actually be more effective.

The Billings Gazette with a reach of only sightly more than 15% of all of Yellowstone County residents gets enormously overbought.  Its a great example of businesses and ad agencies stuck in what they think versus marketing realities.

It is echo chamber marketing at its best.

Should you Billings Echo Chamber marketing think this doesn’t apply to you or your business, take a look at this chart from the Media Behavior Institute.  This is a chart of how real people use media compared to how industry pros (ad agency people) use media.  The same chart looking at entrepreneurs instead of agency people would probably have similar scores.

Notice the huge disparity between the general population and people who do advertising for a living.  If you intend to win and grow your business, you must  focus on what real people do.

The echo chamber was fun when you were young.  Take a moment to see if you are still in that chamber.  It will kill your business.

Print Dead in Billings Marketing! Long Live Print!

Billings marketing print good or badIn markets like ours, there is a lot of focus on print media.  Even people not in the print business see it as something they must have or read most every day.  The reality is the local Billings newspaper has less readership today than it had yesterday. Based on Audit Bureau of Circulation stats I have seen, only slightly over 27,000 people or about 15% of Yellowstone County’s population actually get the paper.

Forbes.com printed a great article on the advantages and disadvantages of print as an advertising medium.  Here are some of their points.

Print Advantages in Billings Marketing

Tangibility – A print piece is a physical thing. Magazines and newspapers can stay in houses or offices for months or years, while Internet ads can disappear into cyber space instantaneously.

Credibility – There is something about print that gives a sense of legitimacy. The saturation of popups and banner ads on the web can be overwhelming and the fear of spam and viruses is enough make people weary of clicking. There is no imminent danger in a print ad.

Branding – Print ads are excellent for solidifying your brand identity. Your ads should have a consistent aesthetic in terms of fonts, colors and types of images to establish brand recognition.

Target Marketing – Placing ads in publications such as specialty magazines can effectively reach niche audiences that may be more difficult to target online.

More Engaging – Consumers are more engaged when reading printed material, unlike websites, which are often skimmed in as little as a 15 second visit. A study shows that people read digital screen text 20% – 30% slower than printed paper. (Alshaali & Varshney, 2005)

Less Print Ads – With more and more businesses relying solely on the Internet for their advertising needs, the decline of print publication can actually be used as a marketing advantage. The publications are less crowded, allowing more room for your ad to shine, and possibly even cheaper prices for that ad space.

QR Codes – Placing QR codes on printed pieces is an excellent way to bridge the gap between print and web. When scanned with a smartphone, the QR code will take you to a homepage or a special offer page that lives on the web.

It is interesting to note Forbes.com attempts to defend print are more about what it is not (we don’t have viruses, people read us differently, we don’t have as many ads) versus what it is (a tangible product you can hold, and a declining way of advertising a business.)

Print has a place in Billings marketing.

As Forbes.com said,

The best way to market your business is to utilize as many channels as possible to reach every corner of your target demographic; this should not exclude print.

Print should no longer be considered a must have in terms of your Billings marketing campaigns.  The decline in readership and movement to other sources for information is rapidly driving the print business away.

How much you use and how you use it is part of a well planning Billings marketing strategy.  Getting professional help to develop and execute that strategy will prevent you from overspending on print, web, or any other form of media.

Look for someone who is focused on your top line when you look for a Billings marketing company.

Understanding Radio Ratings Place in Billings Marketing

Much money is allocated by Billings marketing agencies and advertisers based on the opinions of 14 households.  That is the number of homes who respond to questionnaires about their media listening preferences in a given week in Billings.

14 households.

Those 14 households are made up of an average of 3.2 people over the age of 12. These people have agreed to complete a record of their listening for a one week period.  This record is supposed to be done in a timely fashion.  For doing this work and making their opinions known the respondent gets this:

Billings marketing radio respondents get $1

One dollar.

Spring ’12 Radio Ratings in Billings

You can get the results of this Springs survey of 14 households here, here, or here. (some subscription required)  Its the breakdown of radio ratings in Billings over a 12 week period.

There’s a catch.  Not all the stations are even listed. The number one radio station among people over the age of 12 in Billings is not.  (No, KCTR is NOT the number one radio station in Billings.)

Now you know some of the survey limitations. Can we look deeper to see if there are any nuggets of useful information?  Should you with such a small sample?

Ratings and Use in Billings Marketing

I talked earlier about all ratings being “estimates” and guides.  The Billings Gazette estimates the amount of traffic to their website or the number of issues it sells daily.  Television and cable stations estimate their audiences as well.

The important thing for businesses to understand is the source and the quality of the estimate.  If Scott Rasmussen of Rasmussen Reports had done the estimate, I’d feel pretty good about it since his track record is excellent.

There is some degree of usefulness to radio ratings in Billings.  It is NOT by differences in share between stations.  It is really NOT by differences when you start pulling apart the information by age/sex usage.

Professional Billings Marketing Help

Using radio ratings in your Billings marketing will be much enhanced by an expert third party.  Getting a professional Billings marketing agency to help you plan and execute your marketing plan is a great start.  The plan should cost you less than the dollar on the page.