The marketing landscape is getting more and more cluttered everyday. Adding to traditional media, you now have cable networks, XM radio stations, online newspapers, and literally hundreds of social networks competing for viewer eyeballs. Fragmentation in the media has made it harder and harder for businesses to get their message to consumers; making it difficult to reach their marketing strategy goals.
Breaking Through the Marketing Clutter
There are two ways to break through the clutter. The first, and increasingly common way is through social networks. The second is using psychological principles to stand out above the clutter.
Social networks break marketing clutter
The strategy of using social networks to break through marketing clutter centers on the fact that you are more involved with your friends and want to share information and experiences with them. Friends also have more credibility because they are objective without any motivation to tell you something they don’t believe. Thus, when your friend tells you they liked a movie or restaurant, you are likely to listen to them and believe them.
Capturing influence in social networks
Companies are increasingly trying to harness the energy in social networks by capturing influencers and incentivizing them (giving them free products, insider information, or discounts) to spread the corporate message or other positive information about the company and its brands.
This is a great marketing strategy on the surface. Unfortunately, as consumers become aware of this practice, they are becoming more skeptical of their friends and what they have to say. Overuse of this marketing strategy may negate the positive potential of the practice.
Influencers come in all types. Some are influential because they are seen as experts in some area and have credibility. In marketing, we’ve called these people tribal leaders (which has nothing to do with Native Americans) or opinion leaders. Some have influence because we like and respect them and we want them to like us. Get enough people talking about your brand in their social networks and you have buzz or viral marketing.
Some have massive influence across a broad range of products because we want to emulate them — we want to be like them. Examples include movie stars, government and religious leaders, and musicians. That’s why companies pay a fortune to these celebrity endorsers to Tweet about their products or be photographed in them.
Psychological strategies for breaking the clutter
There’s a lot going on around us — too much for any individual to pay attention to everything. Probably its an evolutionary response that we’ve learned to pay attention to some things and ignore others. The trick is to get people to pay attention to your message. On television, advertisers employ this marketing strategy by increasing the perceived volume in their advertising. In print, a marketing strategy to capture attention might involve glossy paper and color schemes that make the commercial message stand out.
Since most advertising messages reach us when we’re not in a position to do anything about them, we have to retain the information until we get to the retailer. Using selective retention in your marketing strategy involves repeating your message, using catchy jingles that seem to stick in your head, and integrated marketing communication such that aspects of marketing communication re-enforce each other. For instance, using the same logo in your advertising, on your signage in your retail stores, and in your company uniforms. Linking your message with other things your consumers know also helps. For instance, a message indicating your brand is less expensive than more well known brand may get your message retained next to information already stored about the known brand. We call this shared field of experience.
Combining marketing strategies
Just because there are two ways of breaking through the marketing clutter doesn’t mean you have to use one or the other — you can use both. Combining traditional advertising with social media is a particularly advantageous marketing strategy. Care should be taken; however, in combining marketing strategies. If too few messages reach the individual consumer they likely will not act on the message. We can this frequency and consumer need to be exposed a number of time to the message (the exact number depends on a variety of contextual issues). Hence, companies have to balance reach to ensure much of the target marketing hears your message with frequency.