Phil Bilbrough: Your world or their world?

Your world or their world?

By Phil Bilbrough

How many marketers unknowingly market to themselves? Do you really understand your audience’s world? An online marketer’s hi-tech world might not be that of their audience.

Most people aren’t as techy as us online marketers. And we forget this. We live in and have lived in a hi-tech world for years, and we forget that we have. A proportion of our audience choose not to do anything more online than they need to or are required. Perhaps they use email, browse 2 or 3 sites, download photos and then print them out. The online experience just doesn’t do it for them. They aren’t bad people or anything.

My touchpoint is my retired father-in-law, Joe. Nine years ago (in London) he got me to set up his computer and modem. He had a clear and present need. As a current member (and this is unheard of in English football) of three London football clubs West Ham, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, he was entitled to book tickets to matches prior to their public release – which for many matches was the only way he could get tickets. He could only do this online. So Joe appeared to be a reasonably early adopter of technology and he was, but he isn’t. He didn’t take his computer skills any further. Nine years later he hasn’t learnt to save an attachment out of his email. I suppose you learn things as you are required to or if you are interested.

Online marketers need to remember Joe. We don’t need to sell to him we just need to remember the world that he choses to live in. Joe is retired, but his aptitude to computers is probably shared by many other people, some of who may be in your target market.

Our world gives us the context from which we develop advertising solutions. We have always had broadband, up-to-date computers and most offices have a gadget freak spreading the word about the latest and greatest. This experience enables us to make sense of a webpage immediately and without much thought. I suspect that the Joes of this world never cared to excell in understanding webpages, and for them to understand the content on a webpage fully would take sometime – Joe wouldn’t bother.

The trap is that we forget the world that we work in when we come to market to others via online. Keep it simple smart ass works for online marketing. A study out now suggests that text links work better than online display advertising. Maybe – maybe not – yet I wonder if some online (interactive) display ads get in the way of their message.

So I went surfing for examples and came up short – just to make my rant look like a rant and not something that actually happens – but I did find this current Telecom online ad.

Telecom Xero Campaign April 09

Joe owned (and sold) an SME (small medium enterprise). He had spreadsheets galore, and would have trusted his accountant enough to use an online system like “Xero”. But this Xero execution would fly past Joe. “Pinpoint your position” fine, but save the pixel co-ordinates for the web developer.

Something that would work for Joe, if he were a women, is a vaseline campaign currently on I signed-up my partner for a free trial of Vaseline a campaign. The sample even arrived within the timeframe of me being able to remember that I actually signed up for it. Easy. Vaseline isn’t for Joe, but the click for a trial call-to-action does look like a button, so Joe would know to click it.

Vaseline Free Trial: April 09

This is a recession and recession strategies are called for. The Chief Financial Officer takes the reins and starts whipping the marketing horses. Sell product – NOW, and I mean NOW. Build the brand-smand later.

Either way, whether relvant or not in these shift-product-at-all-costs-times, online creatives could do worse than think of Joe when designing their next campaign. Some people have a computer only because they needed to go online (e.g. buy football tickets), it doesn’t mean that they love their computers, or being online.


I have an online media idea called “The virtual lolly scramble”. Ideal for a competition or a campaign with a number of messages. The cost for an outline of the idea is an actual cup of coffee, and if you use it, I’ll require actual money. No exclusivity.  Email me now and get one free (if I can think of one in time).


Phil Bilbrough is an online advertising specialist who has recently begun blogging on the subject for Scoop at

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