Digital Marketers Need to be Reminded: Walk in Your Customer’s Shoes

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Our resident rock star, Ted Rubin, on why marketers need to really understand what their audiences want, before they – and their products – become irrelevant.

Does it appear that you’re followed around online with ads for things you already own? A case in point... I own three Nests, nine Nest smoke detectors and two Nest cams. So, why am I continually seeing ads for this product? Yes, I like the brand. That much was probably obvious after my first few purchases. But I've got enough Nests! With all the data they get from me, they really can't find a way to stop showing me ads for products I already own, and show me something new instead?

As is often the case, there are several reasons why we see so many repeat ads: convenience, laziness, and of course, money. If Google gets its payment and the brand manager can check off an item on their advertising to-do list, then the relevance of the actual ads becomes secondary.

You have the data, use it: Repeat ads should already be a thing of the past

Maybe you're not as big on Nests as me, but I can bet that you have a product of your own that seems to follow you everywhere you go online. As a consumer, it's annoying, and it should be annoying to the brands, too! They're throwing away money to advertise to someone who already buys their products and are missing the opportunity to connect with new consumers who might be interested in buying what they have to offer. The only one who really wins in this situation is Google, and the Programmatic cabal, who still get their money even if the ad is being shown to someone who doesn't really want to see it… or to no one at all (which seems to be the case a great deal of the time.)

But, here's the thing. For the brand manager who orders those ads without worrying about whether the ad will reach the right audience, it's all about checking off the next item on the to-do list. After all, look at how many people are seeing the ad that they paid for the privilege to place! The tenets of good marketing practices haven’t changed in the digital age, but marketers are still seduced into using mass-marketing tactics and throwing out those tried-and-true practices… All in the name of non-existent efficiency. 

Judging by the ads that I'm receiving every day, the status quo simply isn't cutting it. There is a real opportunity out there for brands who take more care in making sure that the right marketing reaches the right audience at the right time. It's not a matter of having enough data – that excuse flew out the window a long time ago. It's a matter of using the wealth of data available to make better advertising decisions and create a better customer experience (so incredibly important in this “who cares about the customer experience with our marketing” world).

It’s a matter of using the wealth of data available to make better advertising decisions and create a better customer experience.

This is one of those many situations where brand managers would really be doing themselves a favor by taking a walk in the shoes of their target audience. It just shouldn't be that hard to figure out that people don't want to see a barrage of ads for products that they already own. But if you were out of touch with the needs of your audience, the way that they consume your content, and their preferences, then okay, maybe you'd think sticking with the status quo is a good idea.

That’s just pure laziness. Sure, it may take some extra work to target advertising more effectively, but you've got the data to do it! Time is money, but any extra time that you put in can be offset by the fact that your ads are finding the people who are most likely to respond to them positively because it’s the right message and the right time. 

Today’s brand managers need to re-learn and practice building that three-legged marketing stool, or they’ll lose relevance with their audience. I love my Nests, but I don't need another one. Show me something new, that I actually may want, and your brand will benefit.  

#RetailRelevancy… #NoLetUp!


Ted Rubin

Ted Rubin is a leading social marketing strategist, keynote speaker, Photofy CMO/advisor, MC/host for Brand Innovators Summits… Speaker, Author, Provocateur Ted is our resident rock star.

Read more from Ted or connect with him on Twitter @TedRubin.


More from the August issue...

We cross over to the wrong side of marketing town with STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, as our usual gang of marketing rock stars pound the pavements alongside some new kids on the block - Christine Bailey, Tom Wentworth and Stephen Kelly - exploring profanity, humor, and a slightly skewed moral compass in our marketing efforts. Read more


Ted Rubin

Ted is a leading Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist,
Acting CMO of Brand Innovators and Co-Founder of Prevailing Path