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Monday, April 22, 2013





Last week we wrote about the 10 Most Common Blunders in Targeting. This week we want to share with you our thinking on how to choose your target. This choice is critically important in building a vibrant, healthy brand and growing your business. Yet, it is one fraught with errors.


Why Targeting is Important

No offering will appeal to everyone? Customers want choices. Some will choose product A over B, while others will prefer B to A. If we were to discover one product with universal appeal that fulfilled everyone’s needs it would undoubtedly capture 100% of the market. Yet, we don’t know of any product that has 100% market share (when there are other products present in an open market). It just doesn’t exit. Just as customers want choices we too need to make choices regarding with whom (as in what customer) we want to develop an enduring relationship.


Also, we need to know our target so well that we can predict how s/he will respond to stimulus that we marketers serve. And we should only provide stimulus that will get the target to behave in a predetermined manner that benefits our brand. Now, let’s ask ourselves, “Do we know our target that well to ensure that s/he prefers our brand (which is stimulus)?” “Do we know the target that we have chosen sufficiently well to be able to predict that s/he will respond in a manner we desire (and need) to our promotion, packaging or advertising?” If we answer honestly the response is “most probably not!”


Everything we do in marketing and put out into the marketplace is stimulus regardless of whether it is a promotion, sales aid, patient education material, advertising, merchandising, medical congresses, etc. If we do not know and think like our target then it is highly unlikely that the stimulus we create will be effective. And, if it is not effective then building our brand will be like driving our car with the handbrakes engaged. We’re not going to get anywhere. And, if we do get somewhere we need to go then the trip won’t be efficient. We will fail to generate a favorable return on investment (ROI) for our marketing efforts. All of this portends rather poorly for generating profitable incremental sales and market share growth.


And, if we select the wrong target for the brand they will be impervious to any stimulus we offer other than deep discounting, which they might avail themselves to on a transactional basis. This is akin to driving our brand off a cliff. Sayonara.


Selecting Your Target-Customer

This is undoubtedly a difficult task, one of the most difficult we face for all the reasons cited in last week’s article. The belief that our offering is for everyone is a false lure. (Not everyone is into you or what you have to offer.) Management’s push for MORE volume exacerbates this problem oftentimes forcing reluctant or naïve marketers to target the universe. However, if we don’t make choices the stimulus will be a grand compromise satisfying no one in particular. It will not serve to create brand loyalty.


Moreover, we need to get beyond thinking “transaction” to thinking “transformation.” We need to choose a target with whom we hope to develop an enduring, mutually beneficial relationship. “Transaction” is akin to a one-night stand. “Transformation” is about making a marriage based upon shared values and mutual satisfaction. Brands certainly have their share of transactions but healthy brands transform customers to loyalists.


So, How Then Do We Choose the Target-Customer?

We need to get below the surface of the skin to really understand whom our target is and what motivates her/him so that we create stimulus that will strike a responsive chord and get the target to choose in favor of our brand. But this is quite a challenge if all we focus on is demographics. Demographics such as age, or socio-economic level, or type of medical specialty or practice, only skim along the surface of the target. We need to go deeper, much deeper. Also, we cannot be content with generic needs that pop-up in standard marketing research studies. Since needs and benefits are two sides of the same coin, generic needs lead to generic benefits. This diminishes our offering to “sameness” and in an “age of sameness,” where customers perceive products and services as basically the same, doing the same things in the same ways, we win only if we out-muscle the competition or provide lower pricing, actions few marketers or organizations are able, or willing, to do.


The Bull-s-Eye Target-Customer of One

Marketers tend to treat targeting as an abstraction. In order to choose the appropriate target, we need to get beyond a mere abstraction and turn it into something that is concrete, something that we can understand and deal with. The way we do this is to identify the “Bull’s-Eye Target-Customer of One.”


Regardless of the category in which you compete identify one real customer for your brand offering. We’re referring to someone who is real. Not a figment of your imagination. Think of that consumer, or health care practitioner, you know who is (or will be) really excited about and committed to your offering. It might be a family member or friend, or in the case of the late Steve Jobs, himself. Or, you might have come upon this customer in qualitative research or called upon her/him in the field. That’s your “Bull’s-Eye Target-Customer of One” and the heart of your customer segment. In selecting a real person, we have gone beyond abstraction and meaningless statistics to make the target concrete.


(Note, however, that while we have now identified our Bull’s-Eye Target-Customer of One and, as such, our target segment, we have not quantified its size. In order to do so, we would need quantitative research. Seek out the assistance of your marketing research manager to address the size of the segment and the potential volume of your brand offering or marketing initiative.


Defining the Target-Customer

Once we have chosen our Bull’s-Eye Target-Customer of One we need to clearly and completely define her/him. This is really easier than one might think, and have experienced in the past. Since we have identified a real person, not an abstraction, someone who we know, it is easy to answer questions about that individual. What questions? Here’s what goes into defining your Target-Customer:

  • Demographics – The easiest and, in many cases, least important element. This includes gender, socioeconomic background, or in the case of health care the HCP practice, etc.;
  • Psychographics– The values and mind-set of the target which require us to explore deeply into what drives and makes her/him tick;
  • Condition/Lifestage/Occasion – The element we choose depends upon the category in which we compete. For example, if we are dealing with a pharmaceutical product then this will address the Bull’s-Eye (i.e., ideal) Patient – Condition. If we are dealing with a food or beverage product it could be about the occasion. And, if our product category is automobiles or insurance then lifestage will probably be the more important element;
  • Attitudes – These are attitudes that relate back to the condition, lifestage or occasion, in context with the psychographics and product offering;
  • Current Usage and Dissatisfactions – Here’s where we name “names” of competitive products and identify our Target-Customer’s dissatisfactions with these products. If they are not dissatisfied we look for where and how we might make them feel dissatisfied. These dissatisfactions will lead us to identify needs which we can better satisfy than competition in winning over the Target-Customer;
  • “Telling” Behaviors – These are behaviors that are consistent with the target’s psychographics and attitudes. For example, if the Target-Customer is a “Pragmatist” and his attitudes are that he doesn’t pay a premium for services and/or features he does not need, then some telling behaviors might be: uses a MasterCard; pays-off his MasterCard promptly to avoid interest carrying costs; shops sales, comparison shops, etc. This element will provide you with insights into the customer;
  • Needs – Here is where we identify both rational and emotional needs of the Target-Customer. As mentioned above, these must not be generic needs. If we have handled the aforementioned elements with integrity then the needs will manifest themselves clearly and competitively.

Have We Narrowed the Target?

Marketers will often ask if we have narrowed the target by defining them with the aforementioned 7 elements. The answer is “of course not.” What we have done is make the Target-Customer more accessible and understandable. This is essential if we are going to be able to provide and craft the appropriate stimulus to achieve predetermined behaviors such as switching, adoption, trade-up, etc., in a way that delivers a favorable ROI.

What’s Next?

When we have identified and defined our Bull’s-Eye Target-Customer of One we need to win her/him over, for life. We want to make this a marriage, “till death do us part.” So we then need to better satisfy this customer than our competition. We need to anticipate her/his needs and beat competition to meeting them. We need to talk with our customers in a way that is receptive to them and touches them on an emotional level. We need to listen and adapt to serve these customers and never, ever take them for granted or attempt to ask too much of them. We need to be supportive and become an integral part of their lives.



  1. Go out into the marketplace and identify your Bull’s-Eye Target-Customer of One;
  2. Define your Target-Customer using the seven elements we’ve shared with you so that you, and all the members of the brand team, fully understand, appreciate and can better serve the customer;
  3. Pursue a long-term “transformational” relationship with your prospective customer;
  4. Choose and craft stimulus that will motivate the customer to behave in a predetermined manner that encourages and strengthens the relationship in creating a bond;
  5. Conduct marketing research to ensure your stimulus is meeting your customer’s needs, motivating behaviors and generating a favorable ROI; and
  6. Serve your customer first, and always.
Richard Czerniawski and 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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