A huge number of people need washing machines, but no matter how good your marketing message or how well trained your business development team you'll find it tough to sell a washing machine if the client's existing one is working.

As marketers, we either need to reach people with broken washing machines or be the first firm that people think about when theirs breaks down.

Being in the buyer's mind when a demand for your service arises (when your equivalent event to the washing machine breaking happens) is an interesting strategy to consider for 2021. Many of your target clients won't be able to buy in the short term. Whether that is for economic reasons, structural reasons or for the simply because they already have a supplier.

You shouldn't just market to people with broken washing machines - be the name they know before theirs breaks

Marketing to targets that can't buy right now seems like a waste of time - especially when your marketing metrics correspond to opportunities won & revenue influenced in the last few weeks or months. Capturing the demand of short-term targets is an obvious and attractive win - but the marketing reality is decidedly different.

It might seem counterintuitive, but the real value is to be made from the clients that have working washing machines:

  • Everyone is competing for short term wins, spending your time, budget and energy here is a high risk, for the same reward or less than a standard engagement.

  • The market with long term needs is an order of magnitude larger than those with short term demand and an order of magnitude cheaper to reach due to lower competition.

  • Positioning your offering is difficult when someone has short term demand. Across the longer time frames of the wider market, better positioning makes for less competition on price and a clear cut advantage in commanding a premium.

How to be there when the washing machine breaks.

Marketing in this way doesn't require a change in tactics, or a restructure of the way your team is structured. 

It does need a change in philosophy, a move away from short term measurement and a deeper understanding of leading indicators.

In many ways, marketing to a wider audience is easier. It's easier to define who the target is, cheaper to target them and there is more opportunity for flexibility in the messaging due to the fact that you don't need to capture someone's full attention this very instant.

There are some clear steps that I elaborated on in a series of posts here:

1. Define your total target by job title, industry and ideally, firm name.

2. Reach these people cheaply and regularly in the channels where they are active (not just where they search for your service).

3. Run a message that is positive, useful and helpful. Measure and optimise for attention (read time, watch time, scroll depth)

4. Use your brand assets clearly and impactfully to build recognition of your firm and association with the services you provide, the problems you solve and the opportunities you create.