Would an archer ever shoot an arrow without first taking careful aim at the target? Arrows are expensive and every shot should count. Like archery, every marketing dollar should be carefully aimed, wisely invested and properly accounted for.
One of the best methods to achieve marketing success and maximize return on investment is through target marketing. The main benefit of target marketing, sometimes referred to as niche marketing, lies in the value it provides for aiming your marketing investment. It requires a thorough understanding of your intended audience, whether that audience is composed of consumers, business people, professionals or segments of many different groups. The better you can define your ideal audience, the more likely you will be able to find efficient means to reach that audience.
Profiling Your Audience
Sometimes a target is defined simply in terms of demographics, such as gender, age, income, geographic location, etc. But a richer definition of your ideal customer will usually provide far greater marketing results. This would consist of an understanding of their mindset, their motivations and their past buying behavior. Obviously these types of insights are harder to obtain, but when available, they offer significantly greater potential to aim your marketing in the most efficient and effective direction.
So how do you go about gathering these insights? Sometimes marketing data is available that can be overlaid on top of customer data you already possess. A great deal of marketing data is collected through varied sources such as: public tax records, internet posts, change of address forms, websites visited, magazine subscription data, and many more. Much of this data is available for rental to be appended to customer data you already have.
Surveys conducted among your existing and prospective customer base offer a more direct means of profiling your audience. You can ask detailed questions about attitudes (“how do you feel about…”), or ask about actions already taken (“what brands have you purchased in the last 12 months…”), and inquire about future intentions (“what do you plan to…”). These types of probes help to paint a picture of your ideal target, and perhaps also point out the types of people who might be less important to you. It’s equally beneficial to identify the traits of people who you DON'T want to target, because spending money on those people can result in waste and diminished marketing ROI.
Media Selection to Maximize Results
Once you have a detailed understanding of your best prospect, which typically coincides with a profile of your existing “best customer”, you then have the foundation for a target marketing campaign. Once you know who to aim your marketing dollars toward, the next challenge is to find the best media vehicles to reach that audience.
A mass vehicle like TV reaches large audiences at a low cost per viewer, but rarely offers targeting precision. It’s the epitome of swatting a fly with a bazooka. Print media offer better targeting because people buy or subscribe to magazines, newspapers and newsletters based on their interests. The process of reading print media is generally more involving than passively watching a TV show, and thus exposure to print advertising can have beneficial effect. Digital advertising provides many of the same benefits as print media, in the sense that people seek out websites and digital content on topics that interest them. Properly selected websites with relevant content can reach a highly engaged audience, although visitor observance and interaction with display ads on websites is still the subject of debate as to the actual effectiveness of digital advertising. Testing and experimentation are the keys to refining a successful digital marketing campaign.
Still other forms of specialized media can help to zero-in on narrowly defined target audiences that can be reached at specific points in time, when your message can be highly relevant and impactful. For example, intercepting a patient with a medication message at the point of diagnosis, or contacting a new homeowner about decorating products just as they move-in to a new home, or delivering pet food when a new pet enters a household. These are examples of context-specific marketing campaigns, which can be highly effective when delivered in conjunction with relevant usage occasions and environments.
Target marketing that reaches the right audience in the most relevant context, at a point in time that coincides with consumer interest in the advertised product or service, will usually produce the best results and ROI for the advertiser. Like archery, taking careful aim with your marketing dollars will help you hit the center of your target.