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Monday, June 30, 2014



“The goal isn’t to do business with people who need what you have.  The goal is to do business with people who believe as you believe.”

                                                                                    --Simon Sinek (TED talk)


If you have been reading our DISPATCHES for a few years, you know how we keep returning to familiar (but super-important!) subjects.  For example, we just wrapped up five-part series on “Why Your Communications Suck,” in which at least two very familiar subjects—the prevalence of poorly thought-out, imprecise Creative Briefs, and the absence of a real Campaign Idea process—were once again spotlighted.  It may seem that, because we often re-visit fundamental subjects like these, we have run out of other subjects to consider.  But that’s not the case.  Honestly, each time we reconsider these things we aim to provide some new, helpful and, ideally, compelling perspective—to increase the odds of winning in the marketplace with more profit, more volume, and more share.


So, with this in mind, we return again to that most basic of brand-building and marketing topics:  identifying the Target, whether for Brand Positioning purposes or, downstream, for communication development.  But before we turn to this week’s “new perspective” on target identification, let’s first review some of the targeting principles that we’ve passionately pushed in past DISPATCHES:


1.   Though rarely recognized, choosing the Brand’s Positioning Target is yet another opportunity to differentiate versus competition…in the same way that choosing Benefits, Reasons Why, and Brand Character are opportunities to differentiate.


2.   Since no Brand can be all things to all people, the goal is to find—and then aim to own—a Target that the Brand can win with (as in, best meet the Target’s needs, rational and emotional).


3.   The main reasons why no Brand can be all things to all people are that (a) not all Target segments are of equal value; and (b) no brand has the resources required to adequately appeal to and win with all segments.


4.   Just because a company has the infrastructure/capacity to call on or “cover” everyone in the market doesn’t mean that it should:  some in the market will readily become Brand users/prescribers; some will become part-time users/prescribers; some will remain loyal to a long-time competitor; some will completely reject the Brand’s premium (or even super-premium) value-pricing proposition.  To attempt to “call on” or “speak to” all of these types—especially knowing that resources are never unlimited—not only wastes resources on low-return segments, but also reduces those that could be applied against high-return ones.


5.   The most important market share to read and track isn’t Share of Total market: it’s Share of Target Market.  As we have mentioned once or twice in the past, while it was impressive in late 2012 when Apple’s MacBook Pro achieved a 10% Share of the Total U.S. Laptop Market, the number that really spoke volumes was MacBook’s Share of Target Market:  91% of laptops selling for more than $1,000.  Clearly, MacBook Pro marketers were targeting laptop users who were “into” high performance, top design, and top price.


Reconsidering these principles argues for the logical transition to a “new model” for Target determination.  The old (but still widely in use) model goes something like this:  Aim your Brand Positioning and subsequent Communication Targets as broadly as possible because the goal is to drive volume and more people means more potential volume.  Besides, our big competitors are aiming for that same broad Target…and we can’t simply let them have free rein.  But, if you buy into any of the principles listed above, this old model no longer makes sense.  No.  What’s needed now is something we would call ROI Targeting, which quite simply is the conscious choice of Market Target Segments that our Brand has the best chance to make steadily increasing profit, volume, and share with—either because our Brand meets the needs of these segments better than competition, and/or because competition has simply overlooked them.


ROI Targeting may sound at first a misnomer.  After all, in business and marketing we normally apply ROI thinking to initiatives, actions, and investments, but not to people.  But as we’ve already expressed, not all people-targets are of equal worth or value; nor are they equally likely to embrace our Brand and become heavy users or prescribers.  So this means that we really do need to understand and assess the relative Return-On-Investment potential of the various target segments that the market comprises…and then consciously choose the ones we have the best chance to grow with and to consciously not choose those whose ROI potential is low to none.


With resources—people, money, and time—getting more and more stretched and cut, there is no better time than now for marketers and their senior management to think about targeting differently…and to determine which Targets to “place their bets” against.  Even more important, to stop wasting company resources against very low odds Targets—which, in turn, means that what company resources are expended will be against the best opportunities.  For our money, when it comes to Target determination these are the “best opportunities”:


I.            Users/Prescribers who “believe as we believe” and therefore are already heavy, loyal franchisees of our Brand;


II.          New entering users/prescribers who, because of their congruent thinking with what our Brand stands for, are most likely to become heavy, loyal franchisees of our Brand;


III.        Users/Prescribers who already do or are most likely to advocate our Brand to others…to be key influencers.


When it comes to choosing a Brand’s Target, there is no better question to ask than, “What is the ROI of that Target versus other Target options?”


Richard Czerniawski & Mike Maloney


Richard Czerniawski

430 Abbotsford Road

Kenilworth, Illinois 60043

tel 847.256.8820 fax 847.256.8847

reply to Richard: or



Mike Maloney

1506 West 13th

Austin, Texas 78703

tel 512.236.0971 fax 512.236.0972

reply to Mike: or

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