Man Drowning but Says He's Fine

Help Those Who Want Your Help Before Persuading Those Who Don't

By Cody See on April 1, 2016 in Digital Marketing

Help is a weird thing.

Some people need it but won't ask for it.

Others ask for it but don't really need it.

I used to make the assumption that when people told me about their problems, it meant they were asking for my help. Of course, people will tell you their problems for any number of reasons.

  • Some find joy in complaining
  • Some don't have anyone else willing to listen
  • The satisfaction that comes from talking about your problems rivals actually solving them
  • Nobody ever told them that the person they're bothering already has their own
  • They want your help

If you start offering advice and they wanted your help, they're thankful, but if you start offering advice and they were talking about their problems for any other reason, you look like a jerk.

Handing out unsolicited advice does more than make you look like a jerk, it also wastes your time. If you'd stop for a minute, you'd notice there are already people asking for your help, you're just too busy trying to help others who don't care.

Why not help those who want your help before trying to persuade those who don't?

Bad marketing is unsolicited advice; it's spending money on people who may or may not care about your product before spending money on those who obviously do.

You don't have to take a marketing class (I never have) to understand that it's best to help people looking for your product before educating others on why they should care.

Inception Marketing Meme

Let's use Dr. Bob as an example. Bob is a dermatologist offering laser tattoo removal in the state of Iowa. He's tried traditional advertising methods like television and radio but hasn't seen good results. Bob knows he should start advertising online because he could see better results, but he doesn't even know where to begin.

Let's examine some of Dr. Bob's options when it comes to digital marketing.

  • Video — Bob could run a campaign on YouTube and show video ads to people watching tattoo related videos.
  • SEO — Bob could work to make his website rank at the top of search results in Google for laser tattoo removal related searches.
  • PPC — Bob could pay for ads at the top of search results in Google for searches like, "laser tattoo removal in Iowa".
  • Display — Bob could run an image campaign and place ads on tattoo removal related websites.
  • Social — Bob could run a campaign on Facebook targeting people who have "liked" pages called, "I Was Dumb in College" or "Live Life With Some Regrets".

Let me ask you, in what order would you target those who want your help before gambling on those who may not?

Here's what I would suggest:

  1. SEO & PPC
  2. Everything else

Seriously. Now let me explain why with an example.

I like music. I listen to it every day. Most of my friend studied music in college and are either music teachers or perform in their free time.

It's safe to assume that I spend money on music related things fairly often, right?


I am interested in music, but I don't buy music.

This reveals a rather inconvenient truth in marketing: People don't always buy the things they like.

  • Luxury cars
  • Travel
  • Funny cats
  • Art

SEO and PPC are advertising methods built around search engines, and search allows advertisers to differentiate buyers from enthusiasts by use of keywords.

Display, social, and video are advertising methods founded largely on topics and interests, which doesn't allow the same level of differentiation between buyers and enthusiasts as search.

Am I saying you can't target buyers with social, display, or video?

Of course not.

I'm saying that you should always take the sure bet first.

If Dr. Bob needs to schedule a minimum of 10 tattoo removal appointments based on his advertising to make the effort worthwhile, 2,000 people in Iowa are looking for tattoo removal, and 10,000 people in Iowa have undeclared feelings on their tattoos, you target the 2,000 actively looking before the 10,000 undecided.

Some businesses might say, "We don't have a minimum number of sales that we have to meet. Our business does well enough that we don't need to advertise. We see it as something extra."

To which I would say, "Great! So why not help those who want your help first?"

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