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Is your marketing guilty of the ‘Spray and Pray’ tactic?

11 Feb 2014


Are you familiar with the concept, ‘spray and pray’?

If you’re a gamer you probably will be. The phrase is usually used derisively in relation to a ‘noob’ – an inexperienced and annoying gamer. It means to fire an automatic firearm in long bursts in the general direction of an enemy, without making an effort to aim and line up shots. In other words, you just throw everything you have at a target and hope for the best.

I like this phrase because it describes an approach that’s relevant to a lot more than just shooting games. Such as marketing strategies.

The spray and shoot strategy in marketing

Rather than have a focused, well thought-out tactic, do you go about your marketing with increasing and indiscriminate frequency? In the hopes that the more that gets thrown out, the more chances there are that something will eventually stick.

And so your social media is constantly abuzz with brand mentions and news snippets. You utilise every advertising medium you can afford.  And you embark on a new marketing campaign as soon as you can come up with another slogan.

Sometimes spraying and praying can actually work…but usually not

Despite the negative connotations, shooting with reckless abandon is a tried and tested approach and can get results.

So long as the bullets are free and in never-ending supply.

That’s not going to be the case with your marketing though. Campaigns and advertisements cost. you. money.

A spray and pray can be more than an expensive waste of resources though. It can actually do serious harm to your brand.

Brand over-exposure is a real thing. People get tired of seeing your brand. This can lead to a negative reaction or at the very least for people to switch off and begin to ignore you. In a world where people take digital vacations to get away from the onslaught of information, you need to be careful not to overwhelm your audience.

Also, it will drown out the message you do actually want to reach your audience. This is especially true in social media, where what we say can so easily get lost against digital white noise.

It’s tempting to spray and pray, but what can you do instead?

One reason people spray and pray is because it’s easy. A focused approach on the other hand takes time, effort, research, discernment, and sometimes a risk as well. But it’s worth the investment, and will probably yield better returns. Line up your shots carefully so that you’ll hit your target every time.

People want to hit every target. But you have to make some serious decisions. Don’t target everyone and everything. Or you’ll end up missing your targets altogether. Know your audience. Who they are and what they are motivated by. This has been said again and again – for a reason.

Another reason for spraying and praying is that when people don’t see the results they want, a common reaction is to try, try, and try again. While this might sometimes work to “flush out” an enemy in a video game, this doesn’t necessarily hold true for real life.

There’s a difference between being tenacious, and being the type of crazy where you think that doing the same thing over and over again is going to give you different results. If something is broken, rather invest time and energy into finding out why it’s not working and how you can change this.

Most business owners understand and accept that marketing and advertising is vital. However, advertising can be a waste of time if you aren’t going about it in a strategic manner. And an expensive waste of time at that. So rather than flood the market with ads, tweets and slogans, take an aimed shot that hits the target right between the eyes.

This article was brought to you by Assignment3, providers of signage in Cape Town.