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Monday, November 28, 2005

Where to Cast Your Marketing Fish Pole

In planning (business plans, market penetration analyses, new product development) and in practice (marketing plans) it is an all too common mistake made by marketers to zero in on the largest segment of any target audience and to assume this is the market to least first-off anyways, which may be counter-intuitive to the instincts of many that tell them smaller segments are only good as part of a future growth strategy.

While it may be right for some businesses that have done their research and have the right formula, for most it usually is a set-up for failure. Further segmentation of a large audience/segment or targeting of a seemingly less targeted audience/segment can often be the sweet spot for a company.

Two examples of this principle:

In reading a USA today article titled ‘Marketing to the Masses Tends to Miss the Many’, it identifies that the African American community is usually either not marketed to or marketed to the same/generic way as other cultural groups through mass marketing. The example of Royal Caribbean successfully promoting their cruise packages through targeted marketing is a prime example of this. In this case it is a growth strategy. For a competitor though, this could well be a viable option to enter, compete, and thrive.

While working on a branded high-tech dry-cleaning start-up in the dotcom era, my former colleagues and I were trying to decide how to prioritize roll-out plans. We had a map of all the dry cleaners in Manhattan, which was to be our first market. Manhattan has dozens of dry cleaners, more than 700 to be precise. For the consumer side of the business, we initially thought we would just target the areas where there was the most density and the most dry cleaners. Upon further analysis, we realized that we needed to add a few other aspects into the mix, including: targeting residents that would best embrace our brand and considering less dense and less well-served areas where there may be more of a need for our service and less competition to uproot. Sometimes less is more.


My parting thought is this: fishing where the fish are is often the logical and most effective strategy; However, never assume the obvious and be sure to consider whether there are better ponds to fish in. Who knows, the fish may be a lot bigger and more willing to bite your hook.


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