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By John Eberhard

In the booklet “The Positioning Era” by Jack Trout and Al Ries, they say:

“The per-capita consumption of advertising in the United States is approaching $100 a year. And while no one doubts the advertiser’s financial ability to dish it out, there’s some question about the consumer’s mental ability to take it all in.”

When do you think that was written? 1990? 2000? 2015? 2022?

Nope. That was written in 1979, 43 years ago. ($100 a year was probably a tip as to how old that was.) That was before the Internet, email, and cell phones. Ries and Trout were talking about this being a big problem in 1979. Do you think that problem might have reached a higher level by today? You bet! Exponentially higher.

In fact, the saturation level of advertising aimed at the typical person in America has gotten so bad that with many types of media, the recipients actually have elected not to receive any communication on those media at all. There is software that allows you to block all banner ads online. Many people don’t answer their phone anymore unless it is someone they know (I get 5-10 sales calls on my cell phone every day, making me one of those people who never answers the phone unless it is someone I know. And I’m on the do not call list.).

And good “open rates” with email today are in the 25-30% range. I get so much email that I periodically have go on an “ask-off” binge

What does this mean for marketers today? It means that with media that have high “rejection rates,” you cannot rely heavily on those media for your marketing efforts. If you do, you will go through lots of motions for little effect.

Many companies rely mostly on email for their marketing efforts today. It’s tempting. It’s free, and fast. But you have to think with the fact that at least 70% of the people on your email lists are never going to see your message.

So what does a marketer need to do today? First of all you need to realize that this is a massive change from 20-30-40 years ago. There is more advertising going out to people today than at any time in history. And there’s an even bigger question today on the ability of the consumer to take it all in, or even being willing to take it all in.

Secondly you have to look for media where your target public is OK with receiving promotional communications, or where they will at least see it. And you have to be careful with the frequency of your communication going out. Your target public has some kind of idea on how often they are willing to receive your communications, and you need to know what that is.

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