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Trying To Do What We Have Always Done

“It is far more important to be able to hit the target than it is to haggle over who makes a weapon or who pulls a trigger.” Dwight Eisenhower

There is no escaping the technological tsunami sweeping marketing today and in the future. A very interesting aspect of this electronic gathering of minute pieces of information about each consumer is that the goal is the same it has been for all modern marketing history. Today the holy grail is a combination of age and gender together with income and interest. Let’s look at interest first.

Content is the pathway to interest. If you subscribe to a magazine (print or digital) that has a focus on cycling, it will be assumed that you have an active lifestyle, that you are health conscious and that you are “young” rather than “old”. Similar assumptions are made depending on content for things like food, vacations, home improvements, gift purchases, etc. When your access to specific content is monitored, marketers make assumptions about who you are and the best way to deliver marketing messages to you.

Television has a 70 year history of using content to target specific consumers. In the early days general entertainment shows (think Ed Sullivan) had sponsors of general merchandise, things every household would use. When daytime “kids” shows were broadcast (popeye, Howdy Doody), goods for homes with children were promoted. Serious drama (Playhouse 90) had merchandise adults were receptive to. TV today works exactly the same way.

There is a shift happening however. The age, gender, income model while never really perfectly on target, today is moving further away from the bullseye. Today the “new” gold standard is “behavioral and need based” data. Marketers have finally realized that what people actually do is more important than what a marketer thinks they will do! Online activity is not a good indicator of offline behavior.

Now let’s consider our wonderful promotional products media. The items we use to deliver messages are actually the “content” that will attract the consumer. Selecting this item/content is the first step in precision marketing. If the message is intended for homes with dogs, a leash and collar with the marketing information is nearly a 100% sure bet to get the message on target.

Promotional products media is a very unique message delivery channel. It is the only channel that never advertises for audience. This has an important effect on the ability to target. A TV show runs commercials inviting people to watch, radio puts billboards along the highway, newspapers send dozens of emails looking for readers. But promotional products media simply has to make an offer and the target shows up!

For example, a grocery store that wants to attract shoppers outside of their immediate vicinity might put a message on an Ice scraper and offer it to the people outside the neighborhood. It is reasonable to expect that someone interested in receiving an ice scraper must have an automobile and therefore is a potential customer. Our media provides the ability to deliver messages based on a consumers’ behavior and needs – always has.

It is gratifying to me, as someone who has always known that promotional products media is a superior way to deliver targeted marketing, now seeing the conventional advertising community (broadcast, online, mobile, outdoor, print) start to realize that all their technology can’t duplicate the precision of promotional products media. We alone have the ability to literally place a marketing message directly in the hands of the best prospect, have that message repeat again and again without additional cost and have the recipient say ‘thank you’ for giving them the message in the first place.

Help your clients understand that a well designed marketing effort utilizing promotional products media will outperform conventional advertising by allowing a targeted focus on the best and most valuable prospects and avoiding “waste”, messages delivered to people that will never be a prospect for your client’s goods or services.

Tech enthusiasts will argue that their way is the future but reflecting on the wisdom of president Eisenhower – hitting the target is what really matters.

Gregg Emmer is chief marketing officer and vice president at Kaeser & Blair, Inc. He has more than 40 years experience in marketing and the promotional products industry. His outside consultancy provides marketing, public relations and business planning consulting to a wide range of other businesses and has been a useful knowledge base for K&B Dealers. Contact Gregg at