I don't want to leave anyone out... by Nicki Banks, 3rd May 2013

Earlier this week I presented back to a client who had made the common mistake of thinking that by listing all the possible target markets that might possibly buy their product on their website and why, it would broaden their appeal and lead to more sales. You can understand the reason why companies think this way and indeed this wasn't the first client I've had that felt this way.  However it is an approach which rarely works - but why?

The problem with this 'broad brush' targeting, is that by trying to communicate the possible benefits for every possible market who might buy your product or service, then you dilute your message to the people who have the most potential to be profitable customers for you. These are the people that you should be targeting your message and media towards, to improve the chances of their thinking your product or service is right for them. I would add here that this target might be demographic, but it might also be behavioural or a mixture of the two.

To give an example (and I won't use my client here as I don't want to betray their confidence), let's take a fictional cruise ship company. There are many possible target markets for such a company from the 'grey' market who are looking for a luxury couple of weeks, to families who want a way to keep their kids happy and occupied as well as getting to see the world, to young couples who want more of a party ship.

In fact there are cruise companies who operate in each of these markets from Disney in the family market to Easycruise in the younger market and  in the greys market. What you don't see is companies that are doing really well trying to appeal to all three markets.

Why? Because these groups of people want different things from their cruise holiday, and so both the product and marketing has been developed to appeal to their particular needs. Also let's be honest if you are an older couple going on a cruise, do you really want a boat full of screaming kids - and this is from someone with kids who I adore, but recognise are not always the quietest of companions in a public place.

OK so the cruise market was an easy one to pick as the different companies are so visible, but this applies to even those products you might think of as being mass market. When I worked on Philadelphia cheese for example, which you can find in a huge proportion of the nation's refridgerators, we were very clear who our target market was and this directly influenced not only the creative and media for the advertising, but also the product development not only in flavours but also pack size etc..

This is where I want to bust another myth and that's that by targeting one group you will necessarily put off other groups (unless that is part of your strategy which it may be for holiday companies).  By being clear about your benefits to the target group you most want to reach then you'll find that these benefits will also appeal to some other groups and you will continue to pick up business from them too - it's just you will get more of that target group of customers that you really want.

If you're tempted to 'this doesn't apply to my small company', then I'd challenge you to think again. Or if you still think I'm wrong then why not give me a call and see whether I can convince you otherwise.

Hi, I'm Nicki Banks. After years working in Marketing for other people, I decided to take the leap and use my skills to start my own business.

That was in 2009 and since then I've worked on companies in a number of sectors from food through leisure to business to business. They had one thing in common - they wanted a marketing plan that was developed specifically for them and could never be muddled with anyone elses. Hence why even companies originally sceptical about marketing companies following prior experience now hire me on a retainer.

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