April 08, 2013

The Hidden Danger Of Precision Targeting

There is very little difference between your customer and your competitor’s customer.

And get ready for a shock. To them there is very little difference between you and your competitor.

Most consumers are oblivious to the positioning subtleties among major brands. The average consumer has no idea why Coke is different from Pepsi, or Crest is different from Colgate. They see no difference between Jif and Skippy. They are unimpressed and uninformed about the arcane positioning distinctions between Bounty and Brawny paper towels.

Most of their purchasing habits are just that -- habits. Interpreting their behavior as some sort of ideological commitment to your brand is a delusion.

In fact, most of the positioning and differentiation work done by advertisers and marketers are academic exercises that are lost on consumers. Consumers have more important things on their mind.

This is why trying to draw precise targeting differences and grand strategic insights between your buyers and your competitor's buyers is such a fruitless endeavor. Being too precise in your targeting means you are missing one of your biggest prospects – your competitor’s customer.

Heavy users in your category are promiscuous. They may have a favorite brand, but they are generally not fiercely brand loyal.

Advertising vehicles that allow you to “engage” and have “conversations” with your brand's heavy users by promising precision targeting provide very limited opportunity to grow your business. In fact, they often distract you from your proper objective – attracting new customers.

This is why social media have proven to be highly suspect in building sales. Who follows you on Facebook and Twitter? They are mainly your committed customers. They are not your primary source of growth. Should you ignore them? Of course not. But neither should you be obsessed with them, as is common practice in the world of social media.

One of the great benefits of mass media is that it lacks precision targeting. It reaches all the users in your category, including the users of your competitor's brand.

These people – the ones who are not your loyal fans – are the ones who can grow your business.


Anonymous said...

Get busіnеѕs гeadу for sοme
FOOTBALL? A lot of contraсts, espeсially
reаl eѕtate contгacts will be as well much сompetitors іn a boωling alley oг а young ones concept restaurаnt
to be a vicious ρredаtor? The yakuza's motives rarely are above reproach. Seth Grae And I think those comments are right, Marcus.

Here is my website: internet marketing wiki

Honourable Husband said...

Bob, let me recommend the book "How Brands Grow", by Professor Byron Sharp. He makes the same highly-logical argument, and shows the pattern in real-life data. An equally contrarian chap.

lucbenyon said...

Hi Bob, Great points, but re the social media comments, this is why shares (and Retweets etc.) are valued so highly, because it allows you to go beyond your usual audience. Similarly cultivating brand advocates is worthwhile because it increases likelyhood of reaching their networks, rather than - as you say - the already engaged people.

Sonny said...

Stop being rational. We need more flavors of the week. More buzz so clients can tell their friends and their management they are on the cutting edge.

Speake said...

Guest, I think the point is that nearly all people don't care about brands. They really don't. Only brand managers do. And mass media already allows you to go beyond your usual audience—hopefully in a more entertaining way than 144 characters touting the wonders of Zoom-O toe fungus treatment

Bill Crandall said...

Chris ... A very good article. But try not to toss around the word "positioning" like a Frisbee. Most marketers (and surely their agencies) have no idea what that really is. But that's OK. I'll settle for a differentiating brand copy claim. But nobody does that either, usually because they don't have one. So no wonder that the consumer makes no distinction among competing brands beyond price.
Rosser Reeves once said, "There are no parity brands; just parity claims". Which reminds me of another old expression, "In a land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King!" LOL, Bill Crandall

Kumara S Raghavendra said...

Precision targeting is not about targeting the 'right' people, be they existing customers or potential customers. Precision targeting, in my opinion, is targeting anyone who has a need for our product, irrespective of what segment he belongs to. So yes, I agree with you when you say that precision targeting is not all good if you mean targeting the right segment. But I must disagree if the marketer is trying to precision target the right needs that the product addresses. Social media and big data play a vital role in making it easy for the marketer to identify who is in need and when. That's all he should focus on. Reaching out to those people (before the competitor does).

Grant Baker said...

But social media campaigns don't need to be about catering to your loyal customers, they can also be a way to gain followers, right? Provide an excellent reason for them to follow, and perhaps they'll come on board as a frequent purchaser.

David said...

Funny, I sent Bob an email just last week making the same reco.

Kate Richardson said...

Great book, he's just released a new one too