Narrow your target, grow your business
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Narrow your target, grow your business

Deciding on your target market is hard, but it’s at the heart of brand success. In many organisations, however, tough targeting decisions are disregarded

Decision-making is hard, but it’s at the heart of brand success. Unfortunately – and alarmingly – tough targeting decisions are overlooked in many organisations.

The problem is that it seems counterintuitive. Logically, it makes more sense to grow a brand by expanding the target, as well as extending its appeal and benefits to a wider and larger consumer group. Certainly, that’s an easier sell to senior management. But there’s a fundamental problem: it doesn’t work. Especially in the early years of a brand or business as the little-known message gets spread too thinly and fails to take a meaningful position in the mind of any consumer.

So how can an ambitious marketer with limited budgets grow their brand faster? In my experience, the fastest way is to ‘focus your target’. Tell fewer people. Rather than trying to tell your story to more people, tell it to those who already want to hear it. Changing minds and convincing consumers to alter their point of view is a long and expensive battle. Often, funds evaporate before anyone hears you. Far better to invest in higher-quality brand interactions with those who are already interested. Capture their affections and they’ll help spread the word.

I’m always impressed by the daring approach taken by Mark Rampolla when he launched ZICO (a natural hydration drink made with premium coconut water) in 2004. His funds were tiny, so he chose to go ‘an inch wide and a mile deep’. Rampolla wasn’t looking for general consumers; he wanted regular users. His approach wasn’t to splash cash on nationwide billboards. That came later. In the early years, before the trend for coconut water ever took off, he made the tough targeting decision about who would be most interested in his forward-thinking, natural sports-recovery brand story. It certainly wasn’t everyone.

He dared to focus on a group of sportspeople who would be so in tune with his brand that they would not only buy it regularly, but they would love it and talk about it. Rampolla focused on the hot-yoga crowd in a trendy New York neighbourhood. From this laser focus, he was able to build a meaningful brand equity, despite his limited budget. Coca-Cola took a minority stake in Zico in 2009 and a further stake in 2013.

Few beverage entrepreneurs have achieved so much. The ‘focus first, extend later’ targeting strategy was fundamental. The question is, how targeted will you dare to be?

Sam Waterfall Founder and Expert Consultant Obvious Marketing
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