Chances are your marketing is not being seen by your target audience.  The sheer volume of marketing messages vying for people’s attention on a daily basis is now so great that customers are developing sophisticated screening-out capabilities… without even realising it.

Marketing commentator, Philip Graves wrote recently that marketing campaigns which rest heavily on defining ‘added features and benefits no longer matter [to consumers] because purchases are dictated by the unconscious mind rather than the conscious, rational one’.   Meaning, your customers don’t have time to read marketing campaigns and have the capability to spot a whiff of marketing at a glance… and switch off.

Don’t underestimate the insight you have

So what does that mean to your business– especially if you don’t have a large marketing budget, time or other resources? Well, it turns out that smaller organisations may actually have a number of advantages here – especially as they often have a closer and more detailed understanding of their customers.  In fact, smaller businesses can sometimes respond more quickly to changes in buyer behaviour than their larger rivals.

This insight, which you can use to create marketing messages, offers and promotions that are highly-tailored to customer preferences, gives you an edge when it comes to marketing to your customers.  And when a marketing campaign feels personalised, relevant and timely to something going on in your customer’s lives… they will invest more time on it.  They will appreciate those suppliers who make their lives easier and whose knowledge of them helps to produce solutions, offers and add-ons which are tailored to their current situation.

Focus on small niche groups of customers

So don’t underestimate the value you will gain by taking another look at your current customer base.  Conduct an assessment which seeks to divide your customer list into small groups with similar buying habits, interests, challenges etc. To help you do this, start to record the insight you  gain when these people buy from your business. For example, ask them:

  • Why did they choose your business offering over others?
  • What situation/need led to that purchase?
  • How long did the purchasing decision take for them – from initial idea to signing up with you?
  • How did they find you?
  • What questions did they ask when buying from your business?
  • What was their profile in terms of their location, age, gender, role, budget, life-stage etc?

This insight will help you to segment your market and then guide you on which offers, add-ons and additional promotions or marketing will appeal most to each of those focused groups.  It will also help you to understand which marketing channels they’re more likely to interact with.

The essence of good marketing campaigns

Think of 3 pieces of marketing you personally encountered in the last month – why did they stand out? Why can you remember them now? What was it about them that engaged your interest for more than a nanosecond?

Good marketing campaigns will still appeal to and resonate with customers.  Good, though, usually means we find we have enjoyed engaging with a campaign in some way.  Usually the ones we remember have an element of enjoyment, amusement or ground-breaking insight that appeals to a particular thirst for knowledge we currently have.  Certain marketing campaigns will also resonate if we have a specific need (ever considered why you notice more car ads around when you’re looking for a car?).

Campaigns that do stand out also factor in the environment we are experiencing them in and it’s important to consider how best to adapt your marketing to stand out from others around it in that location and/or to relate more to setting in which it’s being seen.  Think of those ads from companies who sponsor a particular TV programme and the ones that really adapt their ad to tie in with the content of the programme more (for example Splash and Hula Hoops,   Britain’s Got Talent and Morrisons).  Of course, few small businesses can afford mainstream TV advertising but they can certainly adapt their marketing campaign to fit, suit and reflect the environment in which it is being viewed.

Think of the overall experience

To help your marketing get noticed, it really helps if you can think of the overall ‘experience’ your marketing delivers – not just the key messages you want it to convey.  In appearance does it look, for example, fun or dull?  Is it short and to the point or long-winded and detailed?  Does it rely heavily on words or summarise the key proposition in an eye-catching visual? Is that visual quick to understand or it is highly cryptic?  How easy is it to share with others who may be interested? How easy is it to view in different formats – for example on mobile, tablet, PC?

As consumers will continue to struggle to notice and absorb marketing messages, think then about building campaigns which feature more of the following:

  • Imagery which will really appeal to them at that particular time
  • Short videos – especially to convey complex messages in a more engaging and interesting way
  • Visual references to behaviour or a situation which that target market typically encounter… and which points to your product/service offering
  • Short concise messages with a clear and easy call to action
  • A quick response to a sudden seasonal or new development affecting their lives
  • Fun or humorous elements which appeal to them.  Alternatively you may be seeking to satisfy a thirst for knowledge they currently have about something at the moment (get this right and they may be share your marketing amongst their peers)
  • Interactive elements  – eg a competition or access to a handy add-on for your product/service range

Of course ‘fun’ is a very subjective thing but if you do start developing that detailed knowledge of your customer base you will be able to plot elements they are drawn to… and be able to avoid those they will be repelled by.


Yes it is harder to get your marketing noticed but the more insight you can gain about your customers, the easier it becomes to produce engaging and creative campaigns that do indeed get noticed (by pigford).  To do this effectively on a small business marketing budget it’s better to focus on small groups of customers at a time.  And in doing so, try and make your marketing enjoyable to engage with.  Make it a fun experience to help it get noticed.


About Michelle Daniels

Michelle is an experienced and effective business development and marketing strategist and has built a successful career increasing top line growth for service businesses and organisations. As founder of Extended Thinking, a hands-on marketing and business development consultancy, she helps her clients turn their marketing, business development and thought leadership plans into reality.    Bringing together great minds and great ‘doers’, Extended Thinking Marketing Consultancy helps clients devise and implement plans that achieve real business growth.  Our clients come from a wide variety of backgrounds and sectors, but invariably are those who are too busy or lack the resources to action their marketing and business development plans.  We roll our sleeves up and muck in to free them up to do what they really want to do and are good at doing.

Photo Credit: Andy Cross

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