Imagine you are talking to a city planner, and the two of you gaze upon a crowded, four-line highway. The planner asked you, seeing the crowded four lanes, what do you think is the bast solution?

Clearly, you exclaim, the road needs to be expanded. Yes, you believe that in order to de-clutter the channels, you need to open more for traffic to loosen up.

The planner, listening to you patiently, appreciates your suggestion. Then they tell you that you’re wrong. Instead, the planner states, they want to figure out a way and a reason for people not to use their cars. The problem isn’t the number of lanes, but the accessibility that people cannot get to place A or place B without using their cars.

The planner would then go on to explain the concept of ‘induced demand‘, the event when supply increases (i.e. an additional road) that demand for it will also increase (i.e. more traffic). And city planners (and drivers!) have seen this time and again, we get so excited to have a road open, only to see yet more cars and traffic.

Isn’t this more than applicable to the marketing industry?

When a new medium or marketing channel opens, don’t marketers flock to it, believing that THIS tool or channel will finally reach more consumers. To what end? That channel too becomes cluttered and full of traffic. Yes, the marketer’s message finds the traffic it wanted to avoid in its previous channels. Marketers will try to find new roads, new channels, in order to reach the consumer.

So, if a city planner’s solution is to make places more accessible, what is the marketer’s solution? Let’s break it down.

City Planner:
Observation: people are driving to places a lot in the city
Hypothesis: people are driving because that’s the best solution
Best Solution: create more accessibility so more people pick walking, biking or public transportation, decreasing car traffic

Marketer:
Observation: marketing professionals are trying to use every new and traditional marketing channel to get in front of their target audience
Hypothesis: consumer is hard to reach because of all the bombardment of messaging to’ buy this’, or ‘think about that’, causing consumers to shut themselves off to advertising messages
Best Solution: Instead of focusing on saturation, creating carefully researched messages and using fewer marketing channels could make the brand stand out more, and be more relevant

It has to be said time and again, but sometimes the latest and greatest marketing channel or tool doesn’t fit your audience. And that’s okay. Investing in research and analysis to see where your audience is, what they care about, and what they’re buying is truly a good use of resources, now more than ever. If your brand creates content that matters to them, they will find you. If your company provides a product your target audience needs, they will find you.

Stop causing the traffic jam and be a part of the solution. Avoiding the latest expanded road might be the best strategy.