Why Most B2B Advertising Doesn’t Matter (And Steps To Fix It)

AttentionIf your marketing requires an explanation to your audience, it has missed the point.

If you expect your audience to stop and think about your ad, you don’t comprehend yet just how unimportant ads are to your audience.

As marketers, you agonize over creative and messaging. You study it. You dissect it. You inspect every nuance. You treat it like a piece of art, to be savored slowly.

Meanwhile, your audience runs by. Your ad briefly passes through their peripheral vision. It doesn’t matter anymore what you think. All of this was for them, not for you.

  • Did it capture their attention?
  • Did it draw them in?
  • Did it make an impression?
  • Or did it just pass by, part of the ambient busyness they filter out every day?

To often, they just pass by. Getting attention is the last consideration, and it’s either dropped completely or roughly tacked on at the end. Your time and energy went into the nuance and detail your audience rarely even sees.

This folly plays out every day, and unfortunately, it does marketing a disservice. All the time and effort invested is completely missed by the very people it was intended for.

The Solution

Your efforts need to be re-prioritized:

1. Get attention
Without a brief moment of attention, nothing else matters. Your audience has no intention of giving you their attention, you must earn it with everything from design to headlines.

2. Agonize over the first impression
If they see it for 2/10ths of a second, what are they left with? Do you hold their attention, or is it gone?

3. Then perfect your delivery
If you don’t already have their attention, you will not be seen. And marketing that is never seen is like the proverbial tree falling in the forest.

As marketers, it is easy to be pulled into the detail. The creative, content or campaign piece has your attention. You are three weeks, or months, beyond the first impression. But your audience is not, and if you just focus on the details, they will run by and not even notice it.

For tips specific to online banners, see 4 Rules for Better Online Advertising Performance.

Your Turn

I believe most B2B marketers today are spending too much time in the weeds of their creative, content or campaign and missing the opportunity to get the audience’s attention and make a first impression.

Do you agree, or am I the only one running right by most marketing with barely a notice? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@wittlake).

Photo Credit: triplej* via Flickr cc

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  • Dara Schulenberg

    You’re not the only one Eric. Picking up on your reference to ‘earning’ it I would suggest that when you’re genuinely valuable to your viewer – specifically speaking to their problem and delivering a solution – you’ve earned more than recognition; a conversation.

    Ideally your ad is part of a larger, integrated message that allows you (the marketer) to continue the conversation and demonstrate how you fulfill the promise made in the ad which caught their eye and mind.

    Yes, it is easy to get absorbed by the details and lose perspective. It remains a critical balance of strategy behind the ad to find that message that connects with your audience and production investment. I appreciate beautiful design, but I love it more when the message is on target because I really know my viewer and have something they want/need.

    Thanks for always calling it like it is and challenging us to do better!

    • You are spot on, you have to find that right balance. In this case, it really means doing both well, but one is hard when you as a marketer have spent so much time so close to it. I think that is one of the main reasons we are seeing so many problems today.

      Thanks Dara!

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  • Perk Idea

    First impression is truly important. We all want to be position as the best in the eyes of the customer or client. i like what you just wrote marketing that is never seen is like the proverbial tree falling in the forest. We need to do it when people think of something they will think of you. 🙂

  • Kent Norton

    3/1000 of second of a neuron firing; we all have goldfish brains–2-3 seconds. so insightful

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