Hitting the Target

11 Apr 2014|Paul Cowper

Be Bold

Since time began (and probably before that) marketers have tried to define, as precisely as possible, who their target is. In doing so, a natural tension often arises, typified by two of the ways in which targets can be defined. Sometimes a target is “Patty, a B/C1 twenty-something, self-starting entrepreneur type who believes actions speak louder than words, likes to party (but not too much) and is occasionally prone to bouts of eye-popping vulgarity.” At other times, a target is more succinctly “Everyone” or even more endearingly “Everyone who eats / drinks / yawns / has knees.” (delete as appropriate.)

All well and good, as even the most hardened of penetration-obsessed mass marketers will recognise the value of a creative target (Patty) as a means to help generate content that in turn helps engage a wider audience (Everyone.)

But targeting in this way can be a risky business. The relationship it implies is one where the brand owner looks out over a sea of consumers and selects the type that he is most interested in dealing with, which usually corresponds with the most valuable type. Problem is that people don’t actually know that’s the deal, they’re not waiting to be targeted and they certainly don’t think of themselves as “consumers.” What they think is that they’re the ones standing on a platform looking out over a sea of noisy brands, all clamouring for their attention, with the majority not really warranting it.

So let’s think about targeting a little differently. Instead of asking ‘who is this all for?’, we should ask ‘how can we make ourselves and our brands worth targeting?’. For switched-on, teched-up GenYers, filtering out brands and campaigns is a matter of course, every day. Nothing could be easier than bypassing your content, and if they are going to absorb your advertising, then they damn well want to be paid to do so, to them it makes perfect ClixSense.

In short, more than ever before, marketing cannot be manipulation – it has to be seduction.

But don’t panic, the good news is that most of those things you’ve learned still count. You still need a strategy and a target, it’s just that you have to work harder than ever before to achieve cut through and be noticed. You have to amplify your brand and remember, it’s not about your message, it’s about your actions speaking louder than the words.

Durex’s recent campaign ‘Turn Off to Turn On’ (durexearthhour.com) in support of this year’s Earth Hour (www.earthhour.org/) is a great example of a brand activity getting the right message across to the right target.

So of course, having a clear, well defined brand target still matters – but never forget that our job as marketers is to make our brands valuable to them, not the reverse.


Written by Paul Cowper, MD Added Value UK, for Agenda Q1 2014

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