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Do What's Scarce For Marketing Success

Lee asks, “How can marketers break through the digital content fatigue audiences are feeling now?”

Fatigue comes from overexposure, from too much of something. We reach fatigue in every area of life, from eating the same kind of food to doing the same kind of workout to consuming the same kind of marketing.

Before we do anything else, we have to determine if there’s a problem. Take a look at your marketing KPIs per activity – things like marketing qualified leads or marketing-driven sales – and check for a downward trend. If you’ve got a downward trend over the last 2 years (pre-pandemic and in-pandemic) that is sustained downwards in the last 6 months, then you have a problem. Remember to do the actual statistical analysis – don’t eyeball it on a chart.

If you do have a downward trend in the KPIs that matter to you, then you have to combat fatigue by doing something different. Pivot into scarcity. What’s abundant right now is traditional digital marketing. We’ve got more webinars, more virtual events, more emails, more everything sitting in front of your computer or phone, yes? My inbox is swamped with invites to this new social network, that new networking thing, this webinar, etc. and I delete all of them because I don’t have the time or interest.

What’s scarce right now? Lots of things – computer chips, labor of all kinds, patio furniture, you name it. But what’s scarce that we could use for marketing? Real world things are scarce. A print magazine, curated carefully and sent to your very best prospects would be scarce and unusual. Think about how much marketing arrives in your postal mailbox versus your email inbox. You probably get 100x the marketing content in your email inbox; you get local ads and bills in your postal mailbox and that’s about it, maybe a magazine subscription or two, and the occasional Amazon delivery that doesn’t get flung at your doorstep.

Unusual or useful promotional items are scarce. How well do you know your customers and potential customers? If you had a segment that you knew were dog owners (self-identified, presumably), you could send them marketing materials for their dog, like a branded water dish or custom-made treats. The same would apply for cat owners, parents, and other niches in your audience that you could creatively serve.

I know, some folks will say, “We don’t have the budget for things like this!” That’s true. There’s nothing stopping you, however, from serving your customers’ interests in other ways. What else is scarce is businesses thinking of their customers as real human beings, rather than just walking wallets. Suppose you knew of your customers’ musical preferences (again, you’ll have to ask them). What does it cost you to curate a Spotify or YouTube playlist of their favorite artists and/or cover bands interpreting those artists? Nothing but your time. What does that tell your customer about you? That you care about them as a human being, at least a little bit.

You could take it a step further with a relatively small budget. Once you know what your customers’ preferences are for things like music or art, you could commission custom work from independent artists whose styles match those of your customers, things like a comic series, new songs, videos, etc. Even though these are digital properties, they’re entertainment in formats that marketing traditionally doesn’t use (or doesn’t do well). Think back to the history of entertainment and the early days of mass media, when companies would sponsor radio shows, or today when companies sponsor podcasts and other media. Could you afford to sponsor a major label band? Probably not. Could you afford to sponsor a particularly talented indie cover band? Probably so.

Fatigue comes from doing the same thing too much, whether it’s lifting weights or marketing on the same channels with the same content. The antidote to fatigue is switching things up as much as possible, doing something different. If you’re seeing signs of fatigue in your data, take action by changing things up.


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