Laser-precise target markets

You need laser-precise targeting to attract the people you really want to talk to.

One of the side effects of the democratization of media; that is, the ability of everyone to broadcast their stories to anyone who will listen, is that brands need to be far more precise about who they are trying to reach. In a world where the average consumer is bombarded by (some say) as many as 4,000 messages a day (and growing) you need laser-precise targeting to attract the people you really want to talk to.

The days when a marketing plan would define a target audience as simply as women ages 18-35 are over. Frankly, they should have been over a long long time ago, but communication options were such that enough money thrown at a vague general audience through vague general media would likely attract enough attention for the campaign to be judged a success.

Today, the thought of any but the largest of the large companies being able to waste money on a general mass-media assault is unthinkable, and unwise. Now we are faced with millions of communication channel choices, and in order to make any sense of them and develop a logical approach to building a media plan and a creative approach, we need to know far more about the people we are trying to talk to.

Here’s an analogy. Let’s say I want to knit a sweater. I could go into the world’s biggest knitting store and be overwhelmed by all the hundreds and thousands of patterns I can buy that explain how to knit a sweater. But, if I know that I want to knit a cardigan sweater, for a woman, in a plus size, with 6 buttons, and two front pockets, and a shawl collar, and roll back cuffs…I’ve limited the selection of patterns sufficiently so that there are only two or three to choose from, and chances are I will get exactly what I was hoping for.

The more precise you can be with your target audience definition, the more likely you will get exactly the results you are looking for. You can do a better job of choosing the right media, and a better job of creating a message that will resonate with that particular audience.

There are research companies, and segmentation studies, and all sorts of other help available to companies that can afford this kind of information and advice. It’s worth every penny, I say. But even for a small operator who needs to base decisions on a less scientific approach, a simple shift in mindset can work wonders.

As an example, we recently worked on a real estate development project where the audience was defined as young couples who had bought a first-time condominium downtown, but found that living in a small space was too difficult, and were prepared to move a little bit away from downtown with a second purchase in order to get a bit more space. Our creative messages leveraged the fact that small downtown condos can be difficult places to share, and our media choices were specific to this particularly crowded downtown crowd. Interestingly, every single eventual buyer we talked to matched the pre-determined audience description perfectly.

For your communication efforts, ask yourself as many questions as you can about who your audience is. What makes them tick? What are they worried about? What brands do they like? What makes them happy? Go deep on this line of inquiry: you will find things that fuel decision-making around media and creative issues, and may even influence other aspects of your business offering as well. Talk to current customers. Talk to your competitor’s customers. Talk to the front line sales staff. Talk to anyone that might have some insight that you might not have yourself.

Of course you still need to know the standard stuff: age, marital status, gender, income and etc, because many media only offer these sorts of qualifiers for their readership/viewership.
It’s worth the effort. With a better, more well-rounded understanding of who you are targeting, you will be able to create more compelling messages, and place those messages in more appropriate media, and attract a more qualified base of prospects to your brand with less budget and more success. And isn’t that what we are all trying to do, every day?