Shouting vs. Whispering

Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. has a significant advertising budget, and can afford to spend lots of money pitching to the masses. While Anheuser-Busch may reach a lot of people through its generic, one-size-fits-all billboard ads, they certainly won’t reach the discerning beer drinker through this method. Studies show that discerning beer drinkers want to feel a special, personal connection with their beer. There are thousands of varieties of beer, and details including ingredients, source, and history matter a great deal to discerning beer drinkers. Contrast Anheuser-Busch billboard tactics with another method of finding out about a product–say, being handed an artisan, small-batch craft beer after chatting about the details of its origin from a connoisseur at a local bottle shop.

See the difference?

While a great deal of incredible technology exists to help us target our messages in online marketing, why are some of us still acting like we need billboards, shouting at our prospective followers through bland, one-size-fits all messaging?

If we really niche down our audience, figuring out who they are and how we can solve their unique needs, there’s no need to shout in our online marketing. We can talk in practically a whisper, and we can bet that those on the listening end will want to hear, respond, and engage.

While a craft beer company may not have nearly unlimited advertising resources at its disposal like Anheuser-Busch, being clear and loyal to their target audience (the discerning, ingredient and process-focused customer) ensures that it will have a strong, loyal audience that can support it and make it profitable. For instance, a successful craft beer company’s Instagram campaign might show short clips of the beer being brewed at just the right conditions, or the selection of just-the-right hops. On Facebook, they could post updates on each brew along with visually-rich images to build anticipation for the launch of each new batch, perhaps tagging the farmers who sourced the hops and pictures of devoted fans drinking the beers, so other fans can see themselves in the images and recognize that this is something they would be interested in trying.

From my experience, shouting is fine if you are a big company that can afford to toss away thousands (or millions) of dollars on advertising to people who don’t give a damn about you (and would never give a damn about you) in order to grab the attention of enough people to keep your business profitable.

But if you’re a startup, a small business, or an entrepreneur, you’d be wise to engage in digital marketing that highlights what’s uniquely special about you, and connects with what’s special about those who love you.

Shout and you’ll scare away those who care about a particular need only you can fill. Whisper what’s uniquely great about you that your target audience will care about, and you’ll find the right people coming closer, thinking it was their idea all along.

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