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I once had a boss who said that the best place to be was people’s second choice. Puzzled I asked why – he sad that sooner or later the first choice would ‘screw-up’ (yes I’ve cleaned that up!).

It’s worth bearing in mind when you formulate your posts for social. Linkedin recently championed the thought that most businesses should adopt the 95/5 principle. Meaning that you should structure your content so as to target the 95% of the people that arent quite ready to purchase your goods or services.

There is a story about two executives who get into a car. The first executive says, “I saw an advert for Aston Martin and bought this car.” The Second executive says, “but Aston Martin hasn’t advertised for years. How is that possible?”

It was possible because the first exec had seen the ad when she was 13 years old, and she’d never forgotten it. 

The best ads drive sales over the longest periods of time by building memories that still have the power to influence our buying decisions years later. The Aston Martin ad clearly made a long-lasting impression that contributed to a sale much later than anybody would have guessed.

Understanding the long-lasting impression brand advertising makes is especially important given our research on The 95-5 rule, which shows that 95% of your potential buyers aren’t ready to buy today. This 95% are “out-market” today but will be “in-market” sometime in the future. 

This isn’t just a theory; we actually see this in research with LinkedIn and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute: 75% of companies buy computers once every 4 years, 80% of companies change banking services once every 5 years, and even in B2C, 90% of consumers buy new cars every 10 years. So most of the time, most category buyers are not “in-market.” 

Ads Don’t Immediately Prompt Purchases

Despite the evidence indicating most buyers are “out-market” at any given time, most marketers believe that advertising works right away. This was seen in a study done on B2B marketers on LinkedIn: 96% of B2B marketers expected to see the main effect of their ad campaigns within 2 weeks.

This belief is a myth. 

Think about it! Has your business recently made a significant purchase, like a new phone system, engaged with a new payroll software , signed a contract with an IT support company, or perhaps even bought new carpet for the office?

If you have, then you’ll know that you’re not in the market for those items now and, if you haven’t, then you’ll know you likely don’t need those items right now. The time between purchases for many B2B goods and services is quite long.

The problem with this marketing myth is that it leads marketers to believe the job of advertising is to move people “in-market.” But ads don’t move buyers “in-market.” Only buyers will move themselves “in-market” – when they need a new good or service. 

The myth that ads work by moving buyers “in-market” is most commonly expressed through the sales funnel. Ads don’t work by moving people down the funnel. In fact, ads work by reaching buyers who aren’t even in the funnel yet. 

Because more often than not, the brand that is most easily remembered is the brand that gets bought. Your job as a marketer is to start linking your brand to relevant buying situations – also known as category entry points – well before buyers enter the market, so when buyers do enter the market, your brand is the one that comes to mind. If they don’t know your brand when they enter the market, then it’s already too late.

This is why the 95-5 Rule advises you advertise mostly to buyers who are not likely to buy from you today.  

You could of course aim to connect to the 5% but that is a topic for another time! Need help? Please feel free to message me.

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