Are you trying to be all things to all people?

Targeting your marketing has never been more important

I meet many small businesses who tell me: “We can do large, but we can also do small. We can sell worldwide but we’re also local...” Does that sound like you?

For some reason people often get stuck on the idea that broader they make their marketing, the more customers they will get. But the reality is, the opposite is true. The more targeted and specific you can be, the greater the chance of getting more sales. By being afraid of excluding potential customers, the content of all your marketing messages end up being diluted, generic and ineffective. When you try to speak to everyone, you end up speaking to no one.

It's easy to assume that manufacturers of FMCG products (fast moving consumer goods) can get away with mass marketing one key message to everyone. After all, we are all potential customers for Heinz Ketchup, or peanut butter, or Volkswagen Golfs. But, those mass market brands always segment their market. Cereal companies target kids. Persil targets mothers. Car brands target men - even though we are all potential customers for cars, cereal and soap powder.

It all boils down to targeted messaging

The more specific your message, the better results you get. And if you have a limited budget, it does help make it go further. It doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to one particular niche, I’m just saying tiny businesses will struggle to get decent results from a small budget by using an ‘all things to all people’ approach.

The lowest hanging fruit principle

Back in the days when I had a ‘proper job’, I was very experienced in working with global IT brands. So when I decided to start my own business I chose to focus on the IT industry. I deliberately targeted smaller IT firms who could be interested in working with someone who knew how the ‘big players’ were doing their marketing. I’ve moved on to other sectors since, but focusing on a very specific market at the beginning gave me leverage and allowed me to develop a good client base and track record.

So how do you identify a target audience? This is ridiculously simplistic, but in a nutshell it goes something like this...

Step One — Identify Why A Customer Would Want To Buy Your Product/Service

The first step is to make sure you understand what your products/services have to offer to a group of people or businesses. To do this, identify your product or service’s features and benefits.
E.g. Feature: Anti-lock brakes. Benefit: Safety

Step two - Think about what segments of the population would benefit from your product or service.

With a bit of common sense and logical thinking you can identify market sectors.
E.g. If you sell say, high-speed laser printers, you could research what kind of industries have a need for large volumes of documentation. So, for example, with a 30 second trip to Google, and I was able to identify that the following market sectors fall into that category.

  • Pharmaceutical
  • Banking and financial services
  • Chemical industry
  • Market research companies

Step three: More detailed research

Now you need to drill down into more detail. Look for industry reports, look at trade magazines/blogs, find out about business problems that your identified sectors face.

Step four: Identify messages that resonate with your chosen segments

Try and be specific and show that you understand the problems they face. Then present how you can solve their problems or feed their desires.

Remember, relevance and specifics sell. Generalisations and generic messages don't.