How to create a campaign that delivers customers

Thought Leadership on Branding/Growth Strategies presented by Catalpha Advertising & Design

Happy business woman looking on many bright colorful bubbles. Creative chart design on grey background

In today’s mobile and internet era, we have more tools to choose from to create an effective marketing plan than “Mad Men” had in the 60’s, but expectations and needs have not changed. Getting the best return on investment from an advertising budget is the priority. I work with small companies that have a local footprint to large brands that have a global audience. No matter what size the company or marketing budget, every business demands the best return possible from its advertising and marketing efforts.

The marketing visual and message that is put in front of your customers and prospects is as important as where and how you deliver that message. The creative delivery of the marketing will determine whether the marketing campaign and use of the budget is a success or failure.

The 3-Second Rule

Your customer is a moving target, driving through town, browsing the web, walking down the aisle. There are only a few seconds to grab their attention. The first time I was exposed to the concept of the “3-Second Rule” was when I was a junior creative at a national ad agency. My mentor explained it with the scenario of a person driving by a billboard. Essentially a person in a moving car only has a few seconds to see and absorb the message on a billboard. The same is true when you consider how people flip through a publication, browse the web and shop in a store. They are focused on a goal, and that may not be what you are promoting.

Some people use a “1-Second Rule,” others have a multi-step rule. They are basically the same concept, and when applied correctly, you can test the effectiveness of your visual or audio message before running the campaign.

In an average day, a person is exposed to 1,500 to 3,000 messages between email, web, TV and radio ads. (Reported by AMA, CBS, NY Times and others.) People can skip TV ads when they record shows. We can switch stations to avoid ads and ignore the banners on the web page. In a store, the competition is fierce. The cereal aisle is a great example of visual overload. The brightest, craziest, ugliest packages compete for your attention. The cereal companies create a unique look for each offering based on the customer and on the competition they will be surrounded by. The success of any marketing tool or campaign hinges on the ability of the design to grab the attention of the fast-paced buyer – whether it’s a B2C or B2B sale, no matter where it is positioned.

Marketing success hinges on creative solutions grabbing the attention of your fast-paced, overloaded audience.

Many bus posters are poorly designed. They blend into the bus and are difficult to read: small type and poor composition. You can tell most are designed as though they would be in a magazine. The “3-Second Test” should be used repeatedly throughout the creative development process, whether it is digital or print, a package design, radio spot or email. What this means is that the people writing, designing and creating the marketing tool need to evaluate the ability of the concepts to attract the attention of the target audience and stand out in the environment it will be in. And – as the client – you should be using the “3-Second Rule” each time you review the concept until it is ready to publish.

  • Will the design POP (stand out) in the environment it will be seen in?
  • What will be surrounding it, vying for attention?
  • Will the visual have an impact on the audience you want to reach?
  • Does it speak to the pain points of the target and is the voice appropriate for the message?
  • Will the copy grab the attention – make your customer stop and take notice?

The responsibility lies equally on the client and the creative professional to remember how it will be displayed and what that means, as well as who it is meant to attract.

Consider your own behavior

I advise my clients when they are creating a customer profile and project brief to consider how they themselves shop and how their customers may be different. What are the top 2 reasons for choosing the product you just bought? The visual attracted your attention, but it isn’t always because you liked the graphic. Funny, shocking and raw honesty all work to grab attention. When you’re in the grocery store with a shopping list – how often does a package stop you in your tracks?

You only have “3 Seconds” to succeed or blow the chance of getting noticed by your best prospect.

Not sure you know what will work? Some companies invest in testing their concepts with a focus group or conducting a survey. Not many companies want to go to that effort or have the budget to test before running the campaign or printing a product package. Even if you want to test the concepts, you have to decide what you will show to the test audience.

You need to know what will resonate with your audience. You need to gauge the ability of your concept to grab your audience’s attention.

This requires knowing your customer profile:

  • Emotional triggers
  • Pain points
  • Lifestyle
  • Demographics
  • Buying behaviors

Noticing what campaigns grab your attention can help you understand your customer’s response to your marketing message. Assuming you were the primary target, who would not respond to that same campaign and why? What will move a retiree in Milwaukee is different for a Millennial in Los Angeles or a mother of a 2-year-old in Boston.

Using an outside creative agency often helps keep the creative focused on the intended audience. What you know is an innovation to your product may not be as important to your customer. I was working with a window manufacturer who had just designed a new locking mechanism for their double-hung windows. What was an exciting innovation to the engineer didn’t translate to marketing. A window lock is not one of the top 3 reasons why someone would choose a window. An outside consultant brings that perspective to the creative process.

3 – You have three seconds to get your target’s attention.
3 – You have three seconds, once you stopped them, to draw them in.
3 – If you got them this far, you’ve accomplished a lot.

But the next three seconds are critical.

The “3-Second Rule” was first applied when social marketing didn’t exist. The delivery methods were limited to print channels, TV and radio. Social forces were not employed. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, cable, email, PPC, retargeting and video adds a staggering potential of impressions and channels to reach your customers. There is no room for fluff or mixing in offers which will dilute the target audience. “Mad Men’s” tactics for judging what marketing message will grab your audience still works regardless of the media. Focus on the intended target and what they need with the understanding that…

“You have just 3 seconds to grab their attention.”

Implement your campaigns using these same principles, used years before technology exploded the number of ways you can market and the number of impressions it takes to get noticed.

Catalpha Advertising & Design, Inc. image for SmartCEO

Want to read more about creating a powerful marketing?
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– 3 must-haves in a 2014 marketing budget

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