Marketing: Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

Marketing Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should

by Linda Pophal

There’s an old saying that has been used to describe exceptional salespeople: “They’re so good that they could sell ice cubes to Eskimos.” The point being that Eskimos, living in a cold climate, really don’t need ice cubes, and are likely an audience that is going to be tough to crack. But, great salespeople could crack them.

Our perspective: Why?

In our opinion, the best marketing achieves maximum impact with minimal effort (time and money). Marketers should always be looking for the most effective ways to reach audiences and resonate with them quickly and with relevant impact. That means thinking not only of the communication channels the target audience may engage with but also of the frame of mind they’re in when they access those channels.

We discussed this topic recently in a PR class, using the example of attempting to sell business products on Facebook which is primarily a social channel. People on Facebook, scrolling through news and updates about and from their friends and family, aren’t likely to be highly engaged by posts related to purchasing business services. LinkedIn, however, which is a more business-oriented site, is likely to be a better channel for B2B messages.

One student raised a very good, question, though:

“Shouldn’t it be the job of a good content writer to be able to create a message that is compelling enough to engage an audience regardless of their frame of mind or the channel they’re on?”

Yes, but…

Yes…the ability to get inside the heads of a specific target market to understand their needs, preferences, and values is critical. Moving a market involves connecting with both their hearts and minds—a combination of logos and pathos. The ability to convey messages in a compelling way through words and images is certainly the hallmark of an effective marketer.

But…if we have multiple channels to choose from (and we do), and some are more closely aligned with target audiences in the right frame of mind to be amenable to our messages (and they are), we’re better off investing our time and money focused on those channels rather than flexing our creative muscle to resonate in a less relevant channel.

Are you investing time, effort and money attempting to connect with an audience in a channel and an environment that simply isn’t gaining traction? It may be time to stop spinning your wheels. Nurturing thousands of Facebook followers who aren’t interested, or in the right frame of mind, to pay attention to your messages and take some desired action is far less effective for your business than nurturing hundreds (or fewer) hot prospects in another channel.

If I’m selling ice cubes, I’m going to target an audience that’s suffering in the sweltering heat without access to ice. They’re going to be the easiest sell. Effective marketing isn’t all about demonstrating to your boss, your clients, or your colleagues how clever or creative you are, or how—if given enough time and money—you could crack even the most resistant market. It’s about getting results in a cost-effective way.

Don’t spin your wheels. Don’t invest marketing dollars chasing after leads that aren’t likely to materialize. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!


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