Effective marketing campaigns are not like the proverbial island fisherman who casts his net into the sea and catches everything—an old boot, some fish, and perhaps a lot of seafaring trash. No, it is rather like the expert marksman who takes careful aim at a clear target and hits the bullseye with precision. So, “target marketing” is the answer.

Why Define the Target?

The answer is two-fold. First, you can’t communicate effectively if you haven’t accurately defined or pictured who you are talking to. And second, you can’t afford to market to everyone any more than you can afford to catch everything in the sea. That is simply too expensive and too inefficient. Moreover, today’s sophisticated consumer essentially demands to be ‘spoken to’ as an individual–a single distinct human being rather than some group, collection or class. Marketing campaigns that are individually-focused are much more effective than shouting to everyone.

How Do I Define My Customer?

Most definitions start with age and gender. But let’s get more specific. Look carefully at your current customers. Where do they buy your products and services? How and when do they use your products or services? Look at their marital status, education,  ethnic background, and their occupation. (You don’t have to guess, just go speak to some of them!) As you seek to dig deeper, try to understand their values, attitudes, lifestyles and hobbies. Now, take a look at your key competitors.  Who are they targeting and what do their customers look like?

Once you have a good sense of your consumer, try to picture him or her as an individual; someone to whom you can speak directly. Marketing campaigns that speak to the ways your product or service satisfies his/her needs or grabs his/her emotions will resonate with that person.

Now, Speak to an Individual

Speak to an individual in a ‘voice’ that matches who they are, using the characteristics that you’ve developed for them. You want your target to feel that you know them and understand them. Put individual targeting at the center of your marketing campaigns.