The changing marketing economics of emergency purchases

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Marketers and brand managers have for decades relied on a common formula to drive the occasional, somewhat last-minute, oftentimes-emergency purchase. It’s not that complicated, but it’s very expensive.

When the customer needs something, and needs it now, the traditional formula meant you had to have already established such great brand awareness, such significant unaided recall, that the prospect thought about you first and made the call. This required extensive advertising to prospects all the time, where 95 percent of those prospects have no immediate need for what you’re selling.

You don’t need a plumber…until you really need one. Same for cracks or dings in your windshield.

Same, in most cases, for tires. I spent a couple hours in a local tire franchise waiting room a couple weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon. Eighty percent of walk-ins had some kind of emergency or urgent need. This particular chain spends a ton of money on brand advertising, particularly on local television and radio.

And that model still works. But it’s incredibly expensive.

Fast-forward to today. When we have an emergency or urgent need, we certainly aren’t opening up the phone book. And most of the time, the brands that bash each other’s heads in with print, radio and television advertising fail to differentiate themselves. Twenty years ago, with little other option, we blindly chose and trusted the business we remembered the best.

But today, we have Yelp. Foursquare. Judy’s List. And Google. Not to mention instant responses and recommendations from our social networks.

Winning at that game doesn’t take huge advertising budgets. It takes great products and experiences, and outstanding customer service that earns instant testimonials and referrals. It also requires that you show up when your prospects search on Google, Yelp and other decision-making tools. Within minutes (sometimes all the prospect has in an urgent or emergency situation, and often on a mobile device), prospects are trying to differentiate between options based not just on who they find, but who appears to be the most confident, vouched-for choice.

Having a presence on the social, instant and mobile Web – with your brand, yes, but also with validation from your customers – costs a fraction of traditional brand advertising.

But it works, and the barrier to entry for new market players is incredibly low.

This is scary for traditional marketers that don’t know better, or aren’t learning the new rules. But for companies that are outstanding at what they do, as well as the urgency-driven consumers who need them, it’s a beautiful thing.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.

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