Bad Advertising Advice: Go Where Your Audience Is

It sounds obvious, on point, and innocent, but the oft-told advice to “go where your audience is” is one of the worst pieces of advice B2B marketers receive.

This advice leaves B2B marketers looking at what their audience does. Do they watch the Super Bowl? Are they on Facebook? Do they read Sports Illustrated?

Media sales representatives perpetuate the problem, comparing reach to their competitors. The “more read our stuff” chart is in nearly every major media kit in one form or another and every day it leads marketers astray.

Here is what you need to do instead.

1. Go Where You Uniquely Reach Your Audience

It doesn’t matter if your target audience watches the Super Bowl with everyone else unless everyone is your target. You need to identify opportunities to target your audience and almost no one else, otherwise you are just advertising to everyone!

Places you can uniquely target your audience might be targeted publications, sites or communities. Depending on your audience, publications like CFO, CIO or Wired may be targeted options.

Alternatively, it may be sites or technologies that give you the ability to carve out just your audience. Possibilities could include:

  • LinkedIn profile-targeted advertising. You can target by company size, functional role, industry, seniority, or even individual companies and group memberships.
  • CRM retargeting. Target advertising to individual contacts, like those in your CRM database. Companies like Retargeter and Bizo offer this solution.
  • Company targeting. Target advertising only to individual companies you want to reach. Both Bizo and Demandbase offer this solution.

The smaller your target audience is, the more important it is to focus on where your audience uniquely goes rather than on the places that simply reach the largest portion of your audience.

2. Go Where They Are In The Right Mindset

Many B2C marketers put less weight on the context their advertising is in and they are successful doing so. However, B2B marketing requires more focus on context.

Any time you put a message in front of someone, you are asking them to change what they are doing. If it is to briefly consider your message or take time to watch your video, advertising is an interruption.

If you are advertising in related context, such as promoting an enterprise software solution on CIO.com, it is a small change. If you use audience targeting to reach the same person on ESPN.com, your ad is a bigger interruption and is asking them to make a bigger change in focus.

Limit the change you ask your audience to make by ensuring your advertising is relevant not only to the audience but also do their current frame of mind.

Your Turn

What other bad advice are B2B marketers receiving from the marketplace? Share your favorites in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

Image Credit: Archery Lessons by ProAdventure on Flickr.

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About Eric Wittlake

I am a digital and B2B marketer with a background in online media and analytics. I work with B2B clients on media and integrated marketing programs at Babcock & Jenkins. You can connect with me on Twitter at @wittlake or in the comments here on my B2B Digital Marketing blog.