4 Common Reasons Your Advertising Strategy Fails

Have you ever heard of a Demographer? A Demographer is someone who studies human populations, in particular, their size and composition. They study births, deaths, and migration. An advertising strategy that is crafted with demography is more effective and delivers greater ROI!

Demography in Advertising

Demographer Ken Gronbach explains that Demography demonstrates the “enormous power of counting people, promote[s] the understanding of population change through time and show[s] how distinct population groups and shifts in population size significantly impact[s] the world around them.”

The study of demographics for advertising purposes gives us insight into demographic features – age, sex, family and household status, language, education, occupation, ethnicity, income and wealth which all play a huge role in advertising strategy!

Gronbach wrote a book that we recommend about profiting from the significant demographic shifts ahead related to America’s Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. In “Upside Profiting from the Profound Demographic Shifts Ahead“, he writes about age curves interacting to create the opportunities and what the future will bring for businesses looking to pivot to meet new and growing demands.

Bar Bell Population: Boomers and Millennials

In an interview with Gronbach, he explained that the U.S. has a “Bar Bell Population” which refers to the 80 million Baby Boomers currently alive, the smaller generation in between Boomers and Millennials, called Generation X and the Millennial generation after them, which is huge at 86 million!

He noted that Boomers are consuming in a big way and will (throughout the next decade) be a tsunami of economic force to the Southern States.

Whereas Millennials, the other end of the Bar Bell, have the potential to create an economic force that will rival the Boomers.

We see this in a big way in the Seattle market.  Next year, 20-to-35-year-olds are poised to overtake 52-to-70-year-olds as a higher percentage of the U.S. population. Pew Research Center

generations advertising strategy The birth years determining generations are debated but as a rough guide, the birth years listed below provide a general beginning and ending years for each of the five generations.

What are the birth years for each generation?

  • Gen Z, born 2005 to present.
  • Millennials, AKA Gen Y, born 1985 to 2004
  • Gen X, born 1965 to 1984.
  • Baby Boomers, born 1945 to 1964.
  • Silent Generation, born 1925 to 1944.

There is a sub-generation recognized by many of us in marketing referred to as Xennials, which we wrote about last week. The Xennials refer to a micro-generation born between 1980-1985 when kids grew up without technology and smartphones but were entering or exiting college when smartphones and social media became popular. This sub-generation behaves differently than the younger Millennials, and therefore, advertising strategies for reaching each must be different.

Being mindful of the Bar Bell Population is vital for business owners and marketing managers as they work on advertising strategy.

Over the past 15 years, we’ve personally worked with hundreds of marketing managers. The ones who have been the most successful in their careers have been ones who take an interest in the strategic investment side of advertising as much as they focus on creative messaging. An advertising strategy is critically important in marketing. Media investments in the right or wrong media will make or break a marketing campaign.

Four common reasons your advertising strategy fails:

1. Advertising to the wrong audience.

Wasting money in advertising space targeted to the wrong audience is a surefire way to light your advertising dollars on fire. Understanding Demography and how each demographic uses media is critically important to the success and ROI of your advertising investments.

Want to reach young Millennials? Don’t advertise in Wheel of Fortune on broadcast television! Want to reach retired Boomers? Don’t advertise on Snapchat!!

2. Not resonating with your audience.

If your message doesn’t resonate with your defined audience, it’s not going to work. It’s common sense. But as Voltaire said, “Common sense is not so common.”

By investing time in getting to know and understand your demographic, you’ll be better equipped to speak their language. Focus groups, talking to your customers, and immersing yourselves in the demographic will pay dividends when you’re working on your messaging. Authenticity and a great call to action are what we’ve seen be most compelling and successful.

3. Unrealistic advertising budgets always fail.

If we had a dollar for every time we watched a marketer spend a fortune on creative and skimp on the media buy we’d have a whole separate investment business…

Creative is important. However, spending so much on your creative that you don’t have any ad budget left over to run the creative is a rookie move!

An underfunded media budget is a guaranteed strategy for failure. So is spreading your ad budget too thin by trying to advertise in too many mediums.

Our favorite quote, “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark, you know what you’re doing, but no one else does.” The same can be said about expensive creative that never sees the light of day because the marketing budget is blown by the pretty ad that sits on your shelf.

4. Poor follow through and bad ad tracking.

We may be able to deliver leads to a business through strategically invested advertising, but if the receptionist answering the phone is unfriendly or unresponsive, the advertising was a waste.

If the web contact form gets filled out and no one follows up with that lead… wasted ad dollars.

We provide advertising metrics and track ad performances, but if you’re not asking your leads and new customers how they heard about you, you’re setting yourself up for a hard justification of ROI on your marketing budget with your boss. Know how to use Google Analytics. Ask customers where they heard or saw your ad.

In an inpatient society, consumers demand quick responses. Or they will find a competitor who returns their inquiry.