If you have a consumer brand as ubiquitous as Coke or Pepsi, you can skip this blog. For everyone else who’s struggling to build market share in today’s slowly-expanding economy, you should probably read on.
Here it is in a nutshell: Today your brand will be more successful if you focus on a narrower, more defined target and position all of your marketing efforts directly to them. Ask yourself, ‘Who is my best potential customer?’ If the response begins with ‘Anyone who needs…’ you’re already on the wrong track.
Why? To begin with, you simply don’t have the budget to reach ‘anyone who’. It takes hundreds of millions of dollars in media spending to begin to make a meaningful impression on the overall population – and that’s just in the U.S. In addition, people want to identify with brands that feel like a good fit for who they are. Great examples today are Apple, Adidas, Godiva, Whole Foods, REI, Mercedes, bebe, American Express, Restoration Hardware…the list goes on. If you’re trying to be all things to all people, you won’t be able to make a real connection with any of them.
Often, this is a very hard principle for CEOs of smaller brands to accept. They think that by narrowing their target, they’re going to limit sales. In fact, the opposite is true today. Now that we have networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube (and others), people are voluntarily offering up essentially unlimited personal data in the form of content they create. Each time this happens, the consumer provides a little nugget about what they like, and just as importantly, what they don’t. Smart brands are harvesting this data to reach out to the audience that’s the best fit for their brand.
B2B brands have a better understanding of narrower positioning and marketing for two reasons: The first is they understand there’s a very specific audience for their product. The second is they have limited marketing budgets, and they can’t afford to try and influence a broader target. Consumer brands can learn a lot from this approach.
It’s estimated that Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ sold roughly 50 million copies. That album was released in 1982. There simply are no albums that sell that broadly today. Things have changed. The better – and more narrowly – you can define your target customer and how your brand personality fits them, the better your chances are for long-term success.