Introduction by John Callaghan

This article was one that really got me thinking about the importance of targeting your message to a specific person with a specific problem. Whether you are trying to be “product driven” or “customer driven”, if you advertise the wrong message to the wrong person you will never will the business.

Note: I went through some training with MYM many years ago and have rights to their newsletters. I’m posting the ones to this blog that I believe will help any company make the transition from being “product driven” to being “customer driven”.

Know Your Target Market – by MYM

In advertising, it is important that you know exactly who it is that buys what you’re selling and then talk ONLY to those people. It’s inevitable that no matter what medium you use for your advertisements, there are going to be some percentage of people who see it or hear it who will NOT be prospects for what you’re selling. So make sure that your message is directed for and targeted to only those who are qualified prospects.

For instance, if you’re in the market for a new car, there’s a good chance you’ll see all the TV commercials, hear all the radio commercials, and see all the newspaper ads for cars. If you’re not in the market for a new car; however, chances are you won’t see or hear those exact same ads. They’re still there, you just don’t notice them. You’ll either tune them out mentally or physically change the channel or turn the page. So what’s a car advertiser to do? Talk directly to people who are interested in buying cars instead of wasting time trying to get the attention of those who are not. Some advertisers feel like they need to put something catchy, cute, weird, sexy, colorful or bold in their ads to make sure that every person on earth pays attention to the ad. Then they figure if everyone’s looking, they’ve got a better chance at selling to more people. There’s a real trap in doing your advertising this way – a trap that you need to avoid. When you try to speak to everybody, your message gets diluted to the point where it says nothing to anybody. You can’t be all things to all people.

This is what I call the Tigger syndrome. I don’t know if you remember the cartoon Winnie the Pooh or not, but there’s a character that’s a hyperactive tiger named Tigger. Tigger has a spring for a tail and his talent is bouncing. He’s the best bouncer of all, but his main goal in life in NOT to excel at bouncing, but rather to be liked by everyone else – so he always tries to do what everyone else is doing so they’ll like him. Someone asks him if he can ice skate to which he replies, “That’s what TIGGERS do best!” and goes on to crash into a tree and ruin everyone’s fun. Someone asks him if he can climb trees to which he replies, “That’s what TIGGERS do best!” and then promptly gets stuck at the top of the tree. He does this time and time again until, finally, demoralized, he realizes that his efforts best spent and most appreciated when perfecting his own talent – bouncing.

Would you believe that there are TIGGERS in the business world? One example is a certain box company. While there are not too many things more mundane than cardboard boxes, this company runs an extremely exciting business. They have streamlined their production to such an extent that they can design, produce, and deliver custom boxes in four hours or less. Their next fastest competitor can get the same type of custom order designed, produced, and delivered in about 2 and a half days! And that’s the next fastest one! Most of their competitors take one to two weeks to do that.

Why would anyone need a box designed, produced, and delivered in four hours or less? If a company is manufacturing goods and doesn’t have any boxes at the end of the assembly line to put those goods in, it stalls the whole line and costs the company a lot of money. It happens more often than you’d think. So this particular company’s ability to get boxes out quickly not only helps a company out when they get in a pinch, but it could actually save some purchasing agent’s job.

So what does this have to do with knowing your target market and only talking to those people? They started out filling these short-notice, four-hour orders for their big customers when they got in a pinch. They could actually do it any time for any customer and hold the pricing to a reasonable level, but they hadn’t promoted it that way. Most customers didn’t even know that they could do it.

Since that was their company’s strength – and what made them better than the competition – they needed to put the four-hour ability at the forefront of their marketing and promote it all the time in everything they did. The owner’s concern with this strategy was, “Well, not everyone needs four hour boxes. In fact, 90% of all companies won’t need that service at all in a given year. Why would we want to promote that?” Think about it. Why would they want to promote that? It comes back to knowing the target market. By promoting the four-hour service, they would let everyone know that they had created an absolute breakthrough in the box business. They would be saying something that purchasing agents would most definitely store in their mental banks…just in case they had the need someday.

So what they did was put together a series of oversized postcard mailers that were mailed out systematically every 3 weeks to a targeted list, along with some promotional products that were imprinted with their new logo, “Custom Boxes ON Your Dock In Just 4 Hours…Guaranteed.” The results? They went from doing one or two four-hour orders a month to doing as many as seven a day. Many of those were new customers who were in a jam. Who do you think those customers ordered their regular, non-rush boxes from after this company bailed them out of a major jam? That’s right, the company they learned they could depend on. That would explain how they went from doing $880,000 a month to $1.7 million a month less than a year later – despite losing two major accounts to bankruptcies. They knew their target market and talked directly to them and communicated the exact message they needed to hear.

In summary, you first identify what you’re selling and who will buy it. Then, ONLY talk to those people. People who aren’t within that target will not buy regardless of what you say. To this end, it’s imperative that you don’t waste your precious dollars making general statements that get attention but don’t sell. Pinpoint your message. Pick out your prospects. Talk to them individually. And forget everyone else.