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  • Writer's pictureDr. Gary Witt

Aim for the Bullseye

Any successful marketing plan aims for the bullseye. The trick is in locating it, then finding an arrow which can reach it. The bullseye is the mind of your customer. Aim for that, and your other goals, like greater profits and more customers, will naturally follow. To aim at this illusive bullseye, you first must understand what you are up against.

Recently a client said to me, "We thought it would be a good idea to run an image ad in a business journal, but we didn't get anything out of it." The amazing part of the statement was their belief that they would get anything out of it.

Every day we are bombarded with over 3,000 separate advertisements seeking our attention. Most we don't even pay attention to, like the billboard we drive by, or the newspaper ad we don't even glance at. The competition to gain consumer attention has never been greater, but the techniques often used are straight out of the 1950's. No wonder companies are throwing their money away -- they are using jet plane thinking to tackle a moon rocket problem.

Whether the activity is called sales, marketing, advertising, or public relations, it seeks to achieve one primary goal -- planting a positive idea about your product or service in the consumer's mind. But all too often the designer thinks it is as simple to put a message inside the consumer's head as it is to pitch a golfball onto a green. Instead, the problem more closely resembles trying to reach the green through a thicket of trees.

In that situation, the two most critical things to have are a good aim and the proper club.

How do you achieve a good aim? By knowing exactly what you are aiming at. Good golfers shoot for the pin, while average golfers shoot for the green. Sound marketing strategy requires a sound understanding of the target audience. You may say, "I know my target." But what you may know is their demographic description -- age, sex, income, location, and so on. That doesn't tell you what you really need to know about your audience in order to educate, persuade, and motivate them.

People are not motivated by being female or young or rich or white. They are motivated by the possibility of satisfying their needs, wants, fears, and desires. Do women buy a particular brand of perfume because they fall in the upper-middle income bracket? No, perfume sales are driven by desires, not demographics. Women primarily buy a brand because its message (including its image) has persuaded them of its potential to answer their desires -- love, self-image, romance, security, adventure, admiration, etc. Most perfumes are pulled after a year because they failed to deliver on their advertising promises. But there is always hope in the heart for this next, new fragrance.

If you do not know the needs, wants, fears, and desires of your target audience, you don't know enough to create the best marketing plan for your product or service.

When Tylenol was first introduced, Bayer aspirin controlled over 80% of the non-prescription pain relief market. Tylenol was like a platoon of soldiers facing a mighty army inside a huge castle. Others had tried to take the castle before, but the frontal attack had never worked. Instead, Tylenol looked for a small back door that was unlocked -- and they found it. Their consumer psychological research showed that aspirin was vulnerable with a significant group of consumers who worried about stomach irritation.

Tylenol positioned themselves by first stimulating that fear -- "Scientific research proves that aspirin can cause stomach irritation and hidden stomach bleeding" (what a wonderful phrase – it’s like the monster that might be behind the door, but you can't be sure.) After positioning aspirin in this way specifically for their niche of consumers, Tylenol’s ad then said, "Oh, by the way, Tylenol also relieves pain like aspirin, but it is proven not to cause stomach irritation or hidden stomach bleeding!" Had Tylenol tried the old frontal attack method by designing advertising by demographics, their bones would also have been bleaching in front of Bayer's castle walls. Instead, Tylenol now owns over 35% of that market.

Success often depends on correctly identifying the very strongest needs, wants, fears, or desires of your potential customers which your product can satisfy. Too often we do only part of this exercise, and do it poorly. We ask ourselves, "What do these folks need?" This approach completely overlooks three other critical areas of marketing psychology analysis -- wants, fears, and desires. And the latter two are emotional motivators, which are usually the key elements in a buyer’s final decision.

To begin your marketing plan, first analyze what logical and emotional motivations your customers have for buying your category of product or service. Always remember that your product or service is just a means to an end for them. Identify that "end" and shoot all your arrows toward that bullseye.

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