Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Easy Path to Over Targeting

There is a popular film now in theaters featuring a huge cast of superheroes.  Various figures and groups of heroes appearing were featured in earlier films.  Each of these films was successful enough that it is clear the producers thought that combining them in ever-larger combinations would be an even greater hit.  Well, maybe.  And this is an object lesson for any business.

My argument is that too many targets can weaken the entire marketing campaign.

Why?  Let's look at our "Mega-film".  Twenty two characters can only have so much screen time and some, from what I understand, don't even have any lines!  If I am a fan of "Steel Guy" I am in risk of being annoyed that "Furry Creature" is eating into my hero's face time.  And that's assuming the film isn't a hopeless mishmash.  (Which some critics say it is.)

Similarly, if I attempt to message too many different target audiences I risk weakening my message and creating the image of not focusing much on whatever, say, Target Group A wants when I try to throw a line out to B at the same time.  This creates the possibility I'll look like too much a generalist and easy to disregard in favor of a specialist competitor.

Bottom Line:  Be careful not to pile on with the superheroes and end up creating a badly diluted campaign.  Focus a given message on one carefully identified target audience and give that target the largest possible face time with your product and service. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Dangers of Dumbing Down

Call me old fashioned, but I am increasingly irritated by a rash of "dumbed down" advertisements in today's pop culture.  These sorts of messages may not work as expected.

What do I mean?  Ads that use excessive vernacular or childish words (my current peeve is "melty"), display infantile behavior, affect "edginess" and which assume that the consumer is mentally about age seven.  My suspicion is that, like too many businesses, there is a lemming-like desire to speak to the so-called Millennial Generation and that the agencies presume that Millennials are a pack of underdeveloped lightweights.  To be sure, some are.  However, my long experience assures me that the vast majority are highly intelligent consumers.

People respond to complimentary images in advertising.  That is, if they see themselves in a message, they will be more attentive.  If they see something else, they're almost certainly going to tune out.  Or worse, if they see offensive stereotypes they may react more forcefully---by sharing their negative impression with others.

My guess is that the sort of advertising I described above is backfiring.  Those campaigns are likely not creating much in the way of new customers and may even be driving out previous customers. 

Bottom Line:  It is always the best policy to speak to potential customers in a manner that assures them that you respect them.  My advice is never to react to pop culture cues and speak down, and never describe customers as fools.  There is a positive payoff to "smarting up".