Why should you target the 95% of your audience that are not in the market?

Barry Lemon B2B Strategy

Over the years, there have been many B2B marketing studies that changed the industry’s thinking. You’ll be familiar with their headline results but often keen to know more, and to review the original source. This series of articles provides an overview of the research and how they apply for B2B marketers targeting a niche. Not just great SEO-friendly evergreen content, this is part of our commitment to help marketers in our sectors craft B2B marketing that they are proud of.

Headline finding: 95% of your market is not in market

Research by Professor John Dawes at the University of Southern Australia1 shows that up to 95% of your customers are not in the market to buy at any one time. For niche marketers in particular, this is a worrying statistic and can easily lead clients to want to find and target the elusive 5% of customers who are in the market to purchase. Whilst being present for this audience is an important part of the marketing puzzle, it’s not the whole story. Because, when you find your 5%, you have to work hard to convert them into customers. Customers who perhaps won’t need to purchase again for several years. So, you do it all again with the next 5%. And again, time after time.  

So how can you reach a warmer audience in the first place, and make the conversion from awareness to customer easier?  

By making your brand memorable for the 95% of your audience who aren’t yet ready to buy.  

It may seem counter intuitive, taking a mass market approach when the audience are nowhere near considering purchasing, but this is vital. Particularly so in niche markets where purchases are not driven by external marketing, rather the internal business need instead. Research2,3 shows that familiar brands are more likely to have a better click through rate than unfamiliar brands, meaning that when your audience have a need to purchase a new product, your brand needs to already be present in their minds. Professor Dawes calls this the memory link. Think about it – your own behaviour as a consumer is similar, we are naturally open to brands that we are familiar with. Simply put it means when your potential customers start to look for suppliers, they are more likely to think of you as opposed to your competitors, and your targeted acquisition activity will perform better. 

To create a memory link requires a shift in your marketing focus in two ways. Firstly, by making your brand memorable, not necessarily different. Secondly, by mass marketing: taking your brand story and brand proposition out to the entire 95% of your market. Together, these approaches mean that when someone is ready to start their purchase research, your brand is at least familiar to them. At best, it’s front of mind. When the drivers behind niche purchases are often well hidden to the external world, this can be the key to improving your conversion success.   

So, what does this mean for your media strategy?    

Your brand marketing activity needs to be consistent. Either always on or repeated smaller campaigns, rather than one big campaign and then nothing for the rest of the year in order to be present for all your potential audience. On the surface, it may seem that these campaigns aren’t delivering in the same way as your acquisition campaigns, but that’s to be expected. Building brand awareness takes time – and it may even take years to really pay off. Your media choices also need reviewing. You are trying to find new customers within a finite pool of niche purchasers, so think about how and where you can reach them – including those who aren’t in the purchase mindset yet.     

Of course, customer acquisition marketing still has a place. As does customer loyalty, cross-selling and upselling.  But supporting all of this is consistent brand messaging. Blend your marketing budget between brand, customer acquisition and loyalty. Reframe your expectations about outcomes. Brand activity is difficult and less tangible to measure than pure acquisition, but it is possible.    

Want to read the original research?   

1. Advertising effectiveness and the 95-5 rule: most B2B buyers are not in the market right now.  Professor J.Dawes, University of Southern Australia 

2. Rowe, A., Whittaker, K., & Agop, D. 2018. Secret Life of Search, Vol. 2020. Manchester, United Kingdom: RedC.  

3. Terui, N., Ban, M., & Allenby, G. M. 2011. The effect of media advertising on brand consideration and choice. Marketing Science, 30(1): 74-91. 

At Velo, we craft powerful brand communications, integrated marketing and meaningful customer experiences for international technology, industrial and professional services companies. We understand the importance of all three elements to your success and the unique ways in which niche markets operate.  

So, if you’d like to know more about how our B2B marketing agency could help, get in touch. 

Barry Lemon

Barry Lemon

For those who know Barry, they know Barry.  The difference he has made to Velo since its inception is hard to put into words.  As one of the founder members of the agency, he's worked across almost every aspect of the agency's offering.  This gives him a unique perspective on most issues, that have been forged in the coal-face of real life.