Thursday, August 19, 2010

Four, great target audiences who will buy your crap

I got a new computer and bright future in sales. Yeah-yeah!

Which came first: the product or the market?

Nine times out of 10, it's the product:

You have a vision for a product that will change the world. You move Heaven and Earth to get investors, get it produced, and put it on the shelves.

Then you sit back and...nothing happens, because it turns out that teenagers don't have $1 million to buy your back-to-school jet packs. D'oh!

But if you look around, listen to what people are saying and complaining about - caring about "your market" first - then it's easier to design a product that solves those complaints within that audience's means.

Makes sense if you think about it: we had zits before we had CLEARASIL; we had big thighs before we had the Thighmaster; we had male-pattern baldness before we had ROGAINE (love the theme line: "Break a family tradition. Keep your hair.")

Actually, we still have all of these things (or is it just me who has them?), but it hasn't stopped these products from at least giving people hope that they can take care of these problems by buying stuff.

And, as I say to blank stares in class every year in Ad class, "You don't sell soap, you sell HOPE!"

The four recession-proof target audiences

So, where are the best places to sell hope these days? Apart from mall kiosks, hot-dog carts, and dark back alleys, these are the four target audiences I'd go after:

1. Employees who get work to pay for stuff.

I go to CPRS luncheons for three reasons:

1. To network with my pals.
2. To get away from work for an hour.
3. Work pays for it! Let's party!

Never discount the power of "work pays for it."

The Wall Street Journal's entire business model is based on this idea, which might explain why it's one of the few existing print entities still protecting its content, charging for it, and turning a profit.

The key: provide something of value and find a price point that "work" doesn't notice, even when it comes time to "cut costs."

The best argument when the Winnipeg Free Press calls you to become a subscriber: "I already get it at work."

2. Troubled teens and young adults

"Kids": trendy and spendy.

I was blown away last May when I visited a high school, looked around, and noticed something that I'd never seen when I was in high school: well-dressed students. With iPhones, BlackBerrys and portable gaming systems at the ready.

The power of peer pressure and fashion to this age group cannot be discounted. And, to a new generation weaned on buying iPhone apps on-demand, low-priced impulse buys are the marketer's best friend.

As well, parents are more willing than ever to fork over the dough when junior needs something - like sneakers, sunglasses, and jeans.

Despite the human body continuing to have two legs, two arms, a torso, and a head, there's apparently no end to the "new" fashion-based products you can peddle to young fashion slaves everywhere.

As my restaurant server explained to me yesterday, "Jeans plus leggings equal jeggings."


3. Seniors

While selling ointment to octogenarians may not be as sexy as, say, selling jeggings to young women, seniors have more disposable income than any other target audience, and are among the most-loyal buyers.

Senior markets are often ignored by marketers, even though they like the same stuff that young people like: iPhones, movies, workout equipment - whatever. The only thing that changes is your message and where you broadcast that message.

But where young people can only be reached when they're not in school or working, seniors are available to receive your message all day long, through online media, TV, and direct mail - which is why it doesn't cost as much to reach them as other target audiences.

4. Pet owners

"Pets are the new people." Creepy, but true.

While it would be nice to eliminate the middleman and sell to pets directly, that's probably still a few years away.

However, a nation of actors and celebrities - in view of a worldwide audience of people who idolize and emulate them - are showing their pets more public love than ever before, dressing them up in outfits, carrying them in blankets, and enrolling them in college (or was that just a movie?).

People have a deep, irrational love for Fifi and will do anything to make life better and more comfortable for her. They also feel guilty when they have to leave Fifi at home all day while they work, or when they come back from vacation.

Tap into that guilt, marketer! army...will be take over the world!

Is this song trying to sell me something?

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