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 Sunday, January 20, 2008

 

(S)ELECTING YOUR TARGET

 

There really seems to be something different about the race for the presidency here in the U.S. this time.  Of course, there is the obvious difference versus all previous campaigns—this time an African-American and a woman (a former First Lady, no less) are each in a position to win the Democratic Party’s nomination.  But, if you listen to the political reporters or read newspaper editorials, something even more captivating is happening:  after five or six state primary elections and caucuses, the Republican Party’s nomination remains up for grabs…among as many as four distinctly different men.  Usually, by this time, a “front-runner” has emerged; and, to make things even more interesting, the media-consensus front-runner before the primaries began, Rudy Giuliani, has not yet won a single event.

 

Giuliani’s lack of wins to date, however, is not something he would call surprising.  In fact, his strategists consistently say in public that everything is going according to plan.  Say what?  You mean, the “Giuliani Brand” consciously planned not to be preferred among voters in the early primary states?  Well, the mayor and his strategists might not express their strategy in exactly these words, but the results are exactly what they expected would happen when they consciously decided to withhold their big investment monies from the early primary states…when, instead, they consciously aimed to invest their Giuliani Brand marketing dollars in states with later primaries—and many more delegates to win (such as Florida).  This is a strategy that has many political pundits talking, questioning, and second-guessing because it goes against the longstanding presidential primary principle that a candidate needs to win early and often to build momentum and pull away from the “pack.”

 

While it remains to be seen if these critics are right and that Rudy Giuliani has held back too long in pushing his Brand, one thing is pretty certain:  in positioning the Giuliani Brand, the Giuliani team knows who they are targeting and who they are not.  And, knowing this (or at least having made this choice), they also know whom to invest their marketing dollars against and whom not to waste them upon.  This will be an over-simplification, but what you can generally take from the political analysts about the Giuliani “targeting” so far is this:

 

  • The Giuliani Brand has national franchise potential.  In other words, his target is broader, not narrower.  His appeal is not limited to mainly one target segment, like “evangelicals”; whereas Mike Huckabee’s target is more limited to this segment only.  So in a state like South Carolina, where yesterday’s Republican Primary results showed that evangelicals made up 60% of the voters participating, it makes good sense for the Huckabee Brand to invest there…but not such good sense for the Giuliani Brand to do the same.  There was a similar concentration of this target segment in Iowa, another state where the Giuliani Brand elected to hold back significant investment.

 

  • This potential national franchise for Giuliani can best be termed the “Republican Base”—those who are typically loyal to the party, conservative in their commitment to less government (and in limiting government interference in people’s lives), but somewhat more moderate in their thinking when it comes to some social issues.  These are the ones who have supported and still tend to support President Bush, for example.  As much as possible, the Giuliani marketing team wants to direct activities and messages to this target.  But just because they are termed a “base” or a potential “national franchise” does not mean they are equally spread across the U.S.  As we have seen, there are far fewer of these franchisees in South Carolina than in, say, Florida.

 

  • Speaking of Florida, this is also an excellent “coming out” state for the Giuliani Brand because so many retirees who live there once lived and worked in New York, New Jersey, and the northeastern part of the United States…where Giuliani has his roots.  In other words, not only are many Florida Republicans part of the assumed Giuliani target market, but many also identify with his lifelong experiences and personal style.

 

  • But the investment behind the Giuliani Brand has been even more consciously focused than this; it is being spent in states with primaries that do not allow Independents (not part of the Giuliani target!) to vote in the Republican Primary.  New Hampshire and South Carolina allow non-registered Republicans to vote in their primary elections but Florida does not.  Again, results from the South Carolina Primary show that John McCain’s victory was helped considerably by the votes he received from Independents. 

 

It makes no difference whether you are Democrat, Republican, Independent, or Other.  Regardless of your political persuasion, if you are a committed brand-builder there is much to be learned by studying how “politician brands” choose to target themselves—and, even more important, how they choose to invest behind that targeting.  For this week’s Boats & Helicopters we offer a few learnings we’ve taken from this back-of-the-envelope analysis of the Rudy Giuliani brand-building efforts so far.

 

BOATS & HELICOPTERS:

 

  1. In constructing a truly competitive Brand Positioning, the job starts with Targeting—as in identifying or defining a differentiated Target.  Actually, it seems that few marketers think in terms of a differentiated target for their brands, thinking instead that differentiation is reserved for the brand’s Benefit or Reason Why.  But being truly competitive is not just about what you can win with, but whom you can win with.  The Giuliani Brand seems to have figured out whom they can win with.

 

  1. Taking this a step further, maybe in the future when we articulate who we are targeting in our brand’s positioning, we also ought to articulate who we are consciously not targeting.  Just once, in a boardroom presentation of proposed Brand Positioning Statement (for approval by senior management) we would like to hear the General Manager ask, “Who are you consciously NOT targeting with this positioning, and why?”

 

  1. The reason this kind of question is so important is that relates directly to future big investments by the Company.  Just as the Giuliani Brand does not possess unlimited marketing funds, neither do any of our brands…though sometimes when we recommend a target of “all physicians” or “all adults” we seem to conveniently overlook this basic fact.  No, we want to direct our money in the market against that target that will give us the “win” we seek.  That win may be in the form of share leadership, sustained brand loyalty, competitive brand-user conversions and the like.

 

  1. Think of it this way:  Your brand is running for “Category President” and therefore needs to be preferred by a majority over the competitors in the race.  Against whom do you direct your positioning investment to win this (s)election?

 

Richard Czerniawski & Mike Maloney


Richard Czerniawski


430 Abbotsford Road

Kenilworth, Illinois 60043

tel 847.256.8820 fax 847.256.8847


reply to Richard:

rdczerniawski@cs.com or

richardcz@bdn-intl.com

 

 

Mike Maloney


1506 West 13th

Austin, Texas 78703

tel 512.236.0971 fax 512.236.0972


reply to Mike:

mikewmaloney@cs.com or

mikemaloney@bdn-intl.com

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