Marketing Advice: Use Bad News & Good Aim

Target money
Is your marketing targeting right?

Let me show you what your market looks like – percentages may vary here and there, but not by much.  This is a break down of the segments you’re currently marketing to.

  • 3% of your market are looking to buy your product RIGHT NOW. They are searching the Herald classifieds, going through Dipleague, asking friends and ‘Googling’ for your product. They will buy, from you or someone else, but they will definitely buy.
  • 6% are open to buying but not actively looking to buy now. They can probably be easily influenced with a good offer.
  • 30% Maybe interested, but are not in buying mode. They see some value in what you sell, but they’re not seriously thinking about buying now. He (your buyer) could be waiting for the problem to feel more important, getting a better education on the problem/ solution or just not feel ready financially.
  • The next 30% are not interested in your product. They’ve not been thinking about it, are not aware of it, don’t see the value of it – for whatever reason, they’re just not interested.
  • The Final 30% are not open to buying EVER. These are people who actually don’t even want to see or hear from you. They consider your product a complete waste of time or money, they may even have had a really bad experience with someone like you. You just mention your product and they switch off.

Now imagine you’re about to put out a monster newspaper advert in the Financial Gazette or the Herald in Zimbabwe. It’s a full page spread, in full colour with great graphics – just like the Econet Wireless adverts, only better. Imagine that your advert is so noticeable that EVERYONE will see it, all 100% of the market (this by the way never happens in real life – but let’s just pretend).

What would you say in your advert to get the attention of the segments you’re targeting?

If you come out and say, “Product X for sale, Hurry While Stocks Last!” then you’ll lose most of your audience immediately. In fact the only group that this sort of headline appeals to, is the first 3 – 10% who are already looking for you product or who are very easily moved. Do you really want to limit your marketing effectiveness to just 10% of your market?

Of-course not

Yet this is what most entrepreneurs do everyday in their marketing. Take a look at, or any Dipleague post. Go through the ads. 90% of the time, businesses limit themselves to attracting the attention of only those who are looking to but their product right now. If you do this, then everything you say is aimed at someone who already

  • Knows they have a problem
  • They know your particular product is the solution they prefer for their problem
  • They probably already understand your product and how it will help them, including it’s benefits
  • They want to buy right now

That’s a lot of assumptions to make for a strategy and you’ll pay a high price for each one.

Here are three major strategic problems you’re going to have with this approach

  1. You’ve severely limited yourself to a very small segment of your potential client base (the first 3 – 10%).
  2. You’ve relegated yourself to competing where the competition is most fierce (because all your competitors are doing the same thing). You’ll probably be forced to compete heavily on price.
  3. You’ve positioned yourself not as a provider of valuable information (Info-marketing) or as a teacher – but as someone who (just like everyone else) is just looking for a sale. That’s almost always a weak approach.

Make sense so far?


So what should you be doing instead? How can you appeal to a much greater percentage of the market?

Actually, that probably more than I can answer in one post, also read these three related posts:

For now, I’ll focus on just one of the main things, and probably the most over looked overlooked.

Bring on the pain in your marketing!

People are moved by two opposite forces, pain and pleasure. Of the two guess which one is the most powerful for the majority of people?

If you guessed pain, you’re right and if you marketing doesn’t show the pain, it probably isn’t performing at the highest level that’s possible for you. If there are no consequences for NOT doing business with you and if you don’t articulate those negative consequences effectively, then you’re going to be very limited in the number of people you can reach as well as how much you can influence them.

Look at any local newspaper. Bad news stories out number good news stories 10 to 1. The reason is simple: bad news sells. Good news… not as much.

Here’s an example: If you’re a financial accountant, you want to

  • Educate the market on the dangers of hiring the wrong consultant.
  • You want to show them convincingly that ZIMRA (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority) is cracking down on businesses that are lax on Tax issues.
  • Show them what a disadvantage it is to not have your VAT setup properly.
  • Show them the life threatening dangers of poor cash flow systems and strategies.

Don’t lie, don’t exaggerate…just provide them with good and accurate info on the bad news.

I used bad news a lot in one of my brochures…check it out to see an example of how I’d do it.

Here’s a summary of what I’m saying:

“Hire Best Financial Account” will only reach those who are already looking to hire one. Everyone else will ignore your advert. “How To Avoid The 7 Common Financial Dangers In Zimbabwean Business Today” – that’ll work 10 times better. Even those who thought they didn’t care or need financial advice will read it which means you reach a lot more people. They’ll consider you a generous expert for having educated them. You’ll stand out from all your competitors.

Bottom line: More effective marketing = bigger paycheck.

The better you are at structuring your marketing for the widest possible audience of potential buyers (not everyone), the more successful you’ll be.

3 Replies to “Marketing Advice: Use Bad News & Good Aim”

  1. this is awesome stuff,thank you for sharing such priceless infomation for free.

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