Politics and brand marketing have something in common: lazy tactics are used more often than they should be. The worst of all is the “catch-all” tactic that both use in the hope that it will increase brand awareness.
The term “catch-all” originally comes from the political sphere, where a catch-all party is a party that “permits of encourages a broad spectrum of views among its members” (as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary). Basically, they want to attract as many members of the electorate to them as possible.
Brand and marketing managers are also guilty of this.
Does that sound like you? If you are pushing forward with the catch-all strategy that many politicians have adopted, then stop right now. You won’t get more leads or sales as a result. In fact, all it will do is result in you sinking even further in the polls.
As Steven Jaenke, Founder and CEO at Digimark Australia told us: “Choosing a target audience doesn't mean that you are neglecting the rest of the market, it just means that you are selecting a small portion of that market and saying, "Hey you with the pink shirt who likes rock music and eats vegan ice cream. I thought this product would help make your day better." This is much more effective than saying, "Hey everyone, I have this great product that would help make your day better."
Unfortunately, there are many marketing professionals who have had their time with catch-all marketing. Luckily for you, they were willing to share what they learned to help others avoid the same mistake. Grab a cup of coffee and get comfy: we’ll go through the reasons why catch-all marketing is ruining your brand.
It’s a Waste of Money That Doesn’t Increase Brand Awareness
Catch-all marketing can be a huge cash-drain, even if the benefits of marketing broad can be appealing at first, says Georgios Chasiotis, Managing Director at MINUTTIA.
“The benefits of marketing broad are (at first) appealing:
a) You'll get more users at your door
b) You'll most likely spend less money to acquire those users
c) You'll prove that your product is of interest and there are people willing to use it”
You might think that it’s helping to increase brand awareness, but it’s just burning a huge hole in your team’s budget. True, the CAC might be quite low, but so will be the conversion rate. You might not even get any conversions.
“In my experience”, says Georgios, “most of these users won't stay for long and the fact that you're paying a lower CAC to acquire them doesn't mean anything since they're not qualified and they probably won't stick with the product. Also, the fact that someone is using the product doesn't mean anything about the quality of the product or the actual value that the user gets.”
Also, remember that a waste of resources is also a waste of money! Consumers expect adverts to be tailored to them and, if they aren’t, they won't work.
Marketing Executive at Shiply, Louis Watton, learned how to spend time and money best when he changed the way a former company did email marketing:
“Back when I was working for a ceiling speaker website, we wanted to push a set of products which were able to transform old setups into bluetooth/wi-fi capable systems. These products would only appeal to people who had bought systems over 5 years ago, and so we sent the marketing email only to those who this applied to. As a result of this targeted advert, we saw an improved conversion rate compared to generic emails that had been sent out before. Had we not started with a personalized subject line and had a generic one instead I do not think this would have had the success that it did!”
Moral of the story: non-targeted marketing will waste money. And as many marketers already know, it can be difficult to get a substantial budget for your branding. If you aren’t getting any results with poor campaigns, then it will be impossible to persuade your boss to give you a larger wedge of cash. So, start some highly targeted campaigns that bring fantastic results that will make your boss want to invest heavily in branding!
Mini Case Study: Nestle Hot Chocolate
Nestle Hot Chocolate is South Africa’s favorite winter drink. However, they felt that they could resonate with their audience better and therefore wanted to make their ads more relevant. They decided to test ads tailored to a broad audience between the ages of 18-44. Their campaign was split into three different segments: men aged 18-34, women aged 18-34, and both men and women aged 35-44.
Short videos were created with a different message for men, women, and couples, all with the same main message: make time for love and hot chocolate. Nestle used Facebook to share their campaigns, using Facebook’s best practices of introducing the product immediately and clearly showing an image of the product, in this case, a shot of a person sipping it.
Nestlé’s experiment proved that ad creative tailored to specific target groups drove significantly better results than broad targeting. Between June 3–30, 2019, these ads achieved:
6-point lift in message association
2-point lift in favourability
33% lift in ad recall
It Can Cause Internal Problems
One of the last things you will need on your hands is a mutiny within the team. OK, slight exaggeration but you get what we mean. Internal friction and tension between team members can be tricky to navigate.
Some team members might not agree that your generic targeting strategy can increase brand awareness. Prepare for them to be very vocal about this!
If this dissent spreads throughout the ranks, then you might have to face a full-blown strike before too long.
One further risk of dissenting voices in the team is that some of them could become wildcards. If these marketers and salespeople decide to do their own thing then your brand could end up publishing different messages to the public—and that’s going to really confuse audiences.
If you have been making the mistake of pushing catch-all marketing on your team, own up, apologize and move on. The dent to your ego will be worth it.
James Cazanella, Owner of Internet Marketing Nights, told us what you can achieve as a team when switching to targeted marketing:
“I used to refer individuals to products that were related to just "making more money online" and because of that, I got many more people who were interested, but they were never the type of people who I wanted to help the most.
“Because of that, I soon realized that I was building an online business that was more so draining as opposed to being energizing. So instead, I changed my marketing message to focus more on building and growing an online business by utilizing software tools. The jargon that I used also changed significantly too since the types of individuals that I attracted were much deeper into the process of building their online business. They knew more about landing pages, marketing metrics, email marketing, and so on and so force. They were also much more serious about their success, and most importantly (to me), had a great work ethic to go along with a solid mindset about success.“
No Clear Focus Means No Increase in Brand Awareness
This might be going back to the very first class in any marketing course, but it’s worth thinking again about this very important question: what do you need to do to get customers?
Answer: you need to make them feel like they absolutely need your product. They need to see the value in it. Creating an emotional connection won’t hurt either. Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of MarketingSyrup, Kristina Azarenko, told us:
“The biggest downside of catch-all marketing is that you can't properly communicate your value to all different customers. If you can't communicate your value, you become a commodity which means you compete with other companies only in the price you charge, not the actual value you provide. Moreover, if you market to everyone (= no one), you can end up either with not so many clients (as you don't speak their language) or with many unsatisfied clients.”
Your brand’s product will matter to different people for different reasons. If you run a generalized campaign, you won’t be able to connect with the right people, the people who will connect with your brand.
This strategy also runs the risk of making your actual target audience disconnect from your ads too. If the message in all of your brand campaigns is too generic, they may struggle to make that all-important emotional connection. There’s little chance of them realizing that you are the brand for them!
Most of the time, this could lead to your target audience ignoring your ads, but the worst-case scenario is that they actually create a negative association with your brand.
Here is an example of what can happen if you do move toward targeting a specific audience.
“I have been working as a content marketer at my current company for 2 years”, Ben Culpin of Wakeup Data told us. “When I first started we had no specific personas in place and initially my marketing efforts followed this 'catch-all' or 'scatter-gun' approach.
“Trying to attract everyone at once by using an unfocused array of blog, video and mail content made our product confusing, our messaging haphazard and our site difficult to navigate. Needless to say, inbound lead generation was low - on average just 5 per month and from a range of different backgrounds with totally different interests in our business.
“After doing the research, speaking to existing customers and talking to other marketers, I was able to narrow our approach from the 'catch-all'. We constructed a solid set of personas who we knew we could actively engage in an effective way and began to implement a flexible marketing plan. So by narrowing our approach to inbound we saw an immediate widening of traffic, newsletter subscribers grew and relevant marketing-qualified leads increased to 60 per month.”
Catch-All Marketing Lowers Morale
Thinking back to the previous point about this form of marketing causing internal issues, that might not be the only well-being problem that raises its head. You might also find that your team suffers from low morale.
Carrying out very general brand campaigns will result in your team pushing hard to increase brand awareness that they simply have no chance of achieving.
When the team gets a poor set of results or none at all, they won’t be all that excited about presenting it to the head honcho. There will be a huge sense of dread in the office as the meeting looms—there’s very little chance your team will get anything done while thinking about the upcoming meeting which has the potential to be very dispiriting.
The team will also have to endure their boss’s endless complaints about their “useless” work. That’s going to instantly sink morale. And with low morale, you will start to notice your entire team’s efforts dipping below the 100% mark. The work they put into your campaign will be damaged, and that’s going to make the generalized ads and branding even less effective.
If you want your team to be excited about their work, you need to help them win by moving away from catch-all marketing. Just look at this example from MI Academy's Founder and Managing Director, Alita Harvey Rodriguez.
MI Academy ran a campaign for an Australian online extreme sports retailer with a loyal customer base and a high percentage of return customers. The aim of the campaign was to reactivate dormant customers who haven’t made a purchase in the past nine months, plus gather honest and valuable suggestions for improvement from this segment of their audience.
“For this campaign, we used RFM (Recency, Frequency and Monetary) Modelling”, said Alita, “a powerful strategy for extracting high-impact customer segments, to define a segment of their audience that had fallen dormant.”
“The plain text email series had a 24% open rate from repeat customers who had not made a purchase or opened an email in 9 months, and a 15.4% open rate from one-time purchasers who had become dormant. These open rates are great, but the success of the reactivation campaign was really validated by the feedback!
“7.5% of subscribers who opened the email replied providing the retailer with valuable insight into their barriers to purchase and how lifestyle changes affected buying habits. This led to many quick fixes and process clarifications on the retailer's side, ultimately resulting in a far superior customer experience.
“Moral of the story? You’re not only missing major opportunities for ROI by overlooking segments of your audience with spray and pray campaigns—but closing the feedback loop that provides the valuable customer insights you won’t find anywhere else!”
You’ll Be Small Fry to All Your Competitors
You don’t want to hear this but… your competitors are all beating your brand, hands down. If you take a step back and really look at your catch-all strategy, it’s super easy to see why.
First of all, you will be dealing with all of the issues that have been previously mentioned in the above points. Secondly, you will be implementing an extremely general campaign that isn’t bringing in any results, while your competitors are forging ahead with well-thought-out campaigns that are targeting their audiences with extreme precision.
Your competition is not only able to increase brand awareness but is increasing profit too. But if you switch your strategy, you can take those big bucks out from right under their noses.
The marketing team at DUNK, a business producing custom basketball jerseys and uniforms for the Australian market quickly learned what could be gained by moving to a more specific marketing strategy.
“A prime example of catch-all marketing fail I can recall is from about five years back”, said Ben Arndt, Business Manager at DUNK, “when we ran an awareness campaign on Facebook. At the time we weren’t as lasered in on target markets, and we ran a campaign that targeted an Australian audience. We didn’t drill down into any specifics, that was it! We barely generated any reasonable leads for our $1k spend – lesson learnt!
“I knew we’d made a poor error of judgment in advertising so broadly, so I went back over our order histories and determined that 95% of our sales were coming from 18-39-year-old males who resided in one of six capital cities. I then set up the same awareness campaign but targeted these specifics, paired with ‘basketball’ or ‘NBA’ as known interests. Our $1k spend this time generated 10x the value and confirmed to me that ‘catch-all’ marketing was a massive waste of expenditure.”
See, targeting the right audience and doing it very well can make a huge difference.
If you aren’t already taking a look at your competitors’ campaigns, then you won’t have any idea of just how well they are doing. Investing in brand monitoring can help with that.
In fact, tracking your competitors is highly recommended. You can then see what they are doing well and if there are any aspects of their branding that you should copy. And by “copy” we mean “take inspiration from…”
Lots of brand marketers find that tracking their competitors can give them a wakeup call, as they’ll see the areas that are in dire need for improvement in their own campaigns. Not observing your competitors will mean that you are blind to all your own brand problems—and consumers will quickly become blind to you.
Failing to follow competitors means that you will almost certainly fall at the first hurdle. You’ll be unable to improve and increase brand awareness, and consumers won’t get behind you.
Why carry on if no one knows your brand? Your brand will be over before you even convince people to use it. This may sound quite melodramatic, but sadly it’s very true. Without knowing what your competitors are doing, there’s little room for you to improve your branding and move away from a catch-all marketing strategy.
The Best Way to Increase Brand Awareness? Targeted Brand Campaigns
After reading all that, you probably need to sit down and breathe. It’s a lot to take in, but at least you know that being proactive will really bring results.
If you do have a lot of generic catch-all campaigns on the go, you now need to alter them to target the specific audience you have defined for your brand. That’s all there is to it. Then you will be in a much stronger position to target all of your campaigns. You will know who to target and where you can target them.
Here’s an example from Georgios Chasiotis regarding a brand who are marketing the right way - by targeting a specific audience.
“Respona is an outreach tool for digital PR, link building and content promotion. If you visit Respona's blog, you'll notice two things:
a) The company has started creating high-quality content early on (which is very rare for SaaS companies)
b) The company seems to know exactly what their target audience is—based on the content it produces
For example, their piece about outreach marketing is an in-depth guide that explains how to use outreach marketing the right way. The same applies to all the other posts Respona has published on their blog. If you think about it, the company could go a bit broader with its approach and start writing about things like email marketing or cold outreach for sales. After all, there is some relevance with that, right?
By making their marketing super-targeted, Respona manages to communicate the value of its product and talk directly to their product’s audience: individuals and companies who are interested in building relationships through outreach.”
Go out there and be another Respona. You know what to do now.