Targets and Choices Build Bottom Line

By Stacy Cornay for the Times-Call
Publish Date: 07/11/2010

All I wanted was a visitor's guide to help me plan a family vacation to San Francisco. Simple enough, right? Wrong!

When I visited the San Francisco web site, I was thrown for a loop by the choices and options thrown up on my computer screen.

There's a special guide for people with accessibility issues, another for gays and lesbians. There are guides for vegans, beach bums, whale watchers, and sports aficionados of all stripes. There are guides to fine dining, guides to parks and museums, guides to historic sites, and guides to golf courses. There are guides to just about anything anyone would want to do. Fortunately, there's also a general guide for people who don't fit in any niche or who can't make up their minds.

Astrologers stereotype Libras as individuals who sometimes have difficulty making choices. I'm a life-long Libra. When confronted by the visitor's guide choices, I was intrigued by the possibilities, but I lived up to the stereotype.

I opted for the general guide.

The array of choices offered underscores a basic rule of effective marketing. Target your audience.

If you have more than one audience, target them all. Cover your bases, from the general to the highly specific.

Not all customers or clients are alike. Not all share the same desires, interests, beliefs, or values. The more you know about them, the better you can target them. Understanding their differences and preferences enables you to effectively market your goods or services to them. Expanding your marketing strategies to encompass the specific as well as the general will directly impact your bottom line.

Effective targeting starts with basic questions. Why do people want your products or services? If they don't want them, why not? Are there advantages to appealing to certain age or gender groups? How do your clients or customers get their information? Is your current mix of media buys cost-effective? Does your marketing change to take advantage of seasonal opportunities? Are flexibility, creativity, and innovation foundations of your planning. Are you dogmatic or do you provide attractive choices?

Answers to the basic questions will lead you to an array of new questions. You may want to incorporate focus groups or surveys to gain greater clarity. Ultimately all questions and answers will lead you back to a singular consideration: Are you reaching your prime targets -- the customers or clients who will benefit most from what you have to offer and who will give your business the biggest bang for your marketing bucks.

Individuals marketing themselves also should use targeting approaches.

I receive a fair amount of questions from people looking for jobs. Basically, they want to know how to effectively sell themselves. The answers lie in knowing who you want to do the buying. Presenting yourself to businesses that don't need your skills is a waste of time. Target those that need what you have to offer. Understand those businesses, then present yourself in a manner based on the understanding.

Over uncountable generations, parents have mastered targeted marketing. From the moment they first arrive on the scene, our children vocalize their likes and dislikes. We, the parents, are quick learners. We play their likes against dislikes by offering choices (sometimes backed by threats) to get the results we desire. That's targeted marketing.

After living with him for 18 years, I knew my son wasn't buying in on a trip to a Japanese tea house in Golden Gate Park. But the general guide I got through the web site highlighted a tour of Alcatraz. My son was the target audience.

We're San Francisco bound.

Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising. 
Visit or call 303-651-6612.