And the Oscar for smart marketing goes to…

It’s hard to resist the big media buy. People line up to buy 30 
seconds on the Super Bowl for $2.6 million a pop. It happened with 
the Academy Awards too. It costs about $53,000 per second to reach 
viewers  of the event.
We’re seeing a new trend where even direct marketing professionals 
are getting caught up in the frenzy. Many business owners think their 
target audience is much broader than it actually is. We think 
everyone should hear about our brand. Maybe they’ll need us later and 
remember the commercial. Maybe they’ll recommend our brand to a 
friend someday. Good luck.
It comes down to this. Do you want millions of eyes on your company 
brand or would you prefer thousands of new customers? The tough truth 
is that putting your product on a billboard in Times Square is rarely 
a good way to make money for your business.

It all has to pencil
I’m not saying we shouldn’t advertise at all or that advertising 
can’t get you new customers. Many products must be mass marketed. 
It’s far cheaper to reach the whole audience for soda, fast food, 
blue jeans, shampoo and cleaning products with a big advertising 
campaign. Finding the casual beer-drinkers of the world on a targeted 
list would be a futile exercise.
Direct marketing is about hitting the right target group with the 
right message. If you hit a lot of the wrong people, you’ll pay for 
it. You need to consider whether you have focused your target correctly.
If you can’t picture half the population buying either your product 
or a direct competitor’s, you’ll have to do the hard work of creating 
a rational marketing plan. I use the word buying your product 
deliberately. If you sell paper, everyone who works in an office uses 
it every day, but only one person there makes the buying decision.

Avoiding pitfalls of big idea marketing
The big splash mentality has other risks. Because splashes are often 
very expensive, if you resist the temptation, you should have more 
budget to talk to your target group more frequently. You’ll also 
spread your risk over time. Multiple messages are less likely to fall 
victim to some unforeseen disaster than a single effort.
One more pitfall. Big splash marketing almost always focuses on 
entertainment rather than on selling. Yes, a lot of commercials are 
funny. As direct marketers, however, we can prove that a punch line 
rarely makes a positive impact on the bottom line.
There’s no question that you should work on building your brand with 
your target audience. Build your brand customer by customer, rather 
than try to become an overnight sensation. You can’t pay the bills 
with awareness.

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