Thursday, December 15, 2011

Target markets don't buy things. People do.

         In advertising and marketing, we always seem to be talking about our target markets. "Male heads of households." "Women with children 5-14." "Baby boomers who work."

         I've been observing the scene for a long time and I've never seen a target market walk into a drugstore and buy shampoo. It's important to remember that we're talking to people in our messages. Individuals.These people are all different, and they've all got a lot more on their minds than big sexy hair.

         They're worried about their kids needing braces and their partners' new boss and whether the car will hold up another winter and that nagging pain in their left knee. And we're spending our days trying to figure out how to sell them a new smooth dental floss.

          I'm not saying our new smooth dental floss isn't important, because it is. It can save a person's teeth, and maybe their gums. And the manufacturer has a lot riding on it; the workers, the new equipment, maybe its future. But the people in the target market, bless their hearts, have other things on their minds besides flossing.

          How should we in advertising deal with it? Honestly. Appropriately. We should describe it and tell why it's worthwhile. We should be interesting and informative, and maybe have a little fun in demonstrating it. But one thing we should not do is introduce it like it's the most fascinating thing since Lady Gaga.

          A chain of restaurants here in the Bay Area just announced they're closing. The places are called "Cafe Gratitude". From the moment you enter, they try to make customers think about how grateful they should be to have all they do. I have a hunch they're closing not because their customers aren't grateful people, or because gratitude isn't important --- it's very important. I have a hunch there weren't enough people who were crazy about raw food, which is what they served, or the service.

          Just maybe their customers wanted to put their worries aside for a couple of hours, and not spend the time contemplating their moral fiber.

          In advertising and marketing, we're selling to people. People with bills, bosses, and backaches.Their  time is important to them, and we owe it to them to be on their side and not irritate them. Because if we're not on their side, guess what. We make ourselves invisible.

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