Jason Dea's Pages

Friday, May 13, 2011

Why a Superbowl ad is not a good idea


I'm a big fan of interdepartmental collaboration; I am never the smartest guy in the room, so whenever possible I try to solicit ideas from my peers. Marketing, sales, development, technical support; everyone involved in my company has a valuable perspective on the greater goals of the organization. I've also come to learn is that unless people are asked all too often great ideas simply go unheard.

Marketing is often the most visible organizations in any company. At least the results of marketing work tend to be quite visible. So at various time I do solicit ideas from non-marketers around what we could do to improve our efforts. Usually, this leads to great constructive discussions of what is going well, what is not working and even what our grander vision should look like. BUT there is one suggestion that comes up that I do hate - the mythical "Superbowl ad"…

Most people have a preconception of what marketing does. Sadly these ideas are usually based on what marketing used to do.

People hate what marketing used to do. I hate what marketing used to do. Traditional marketing was interruption driven - Interrupt people's lives with broadly targeted advertising, jingles or nonsensical catchphrases. It was all very loud and colourful, and frankly all very annoying. Presumably the theory went like this - the loudest marketers capture the largest audiences, with little regard for what that audience actually looked like.

I work in the world of B2B, where that type of approach is particularly ineffective. Businesses, in my experience, appreciate being yelled at even less than individual consumers. Not only that but the products my company makes are also quite specialized within the business market, so interruption based marketing becomes even less effective for me.

Superbowl ads are all about casting a wide net, and hoping to hit very few targets. It's about screaming "WAZZZZAAAAAPPPP!!!" at the whole world and hoping that at least one person decides to buy a beer.

One of the most important parts of my job as a marketer is to make sure I don't do this. Identifying and defining very clearly the target market I want to capture, is always step one. Smarter folks than me actually have a term for this – segmentation.

Effective segmentation allows me as a marketer to define who the buyer is that I'm targeting, and craft a message for them that is delivered and made available through the channels they naturally gather information from. That way instead of casting a very wide net hoping to catch one very rare fish, I can go hunting with a sniper rifle in a confined woodland area that has a large population of whatever specific furry creature I'm looking for.

And that is why a Superbowl ad might very well be the absolute worst marketing investment that I could possibly make…


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