By Tom Fishburne published March 10, 2013

Why Your Content Marketing Riches Can Be Found in the Niches

marketoon studios-cartoonIn marketing, one size does not fit all. One size fits none. Many brands try to be all things to all people. General Mills CMO Mark Addicks once commented that too many brands were targeted to “women, ages 18-49, with a pulse.”

It can be tempting to aim for everybody — particularly for mass-market brands. I’ve been in brand discussions where the target market was identified by writing all possible prospects on a white board as if we were cold-calling customers rather than trying to connect with them. Yet that broad approach can lead to a split personality that appeals to no one.

Your target market is not the same as anyone who could conceivably buy your product. A target market is deliberately exclusive. That niche focus is what gives your message teeth. It is what compels consumers to identify with your brand. It is what gives you insight to speak to them so clearly. 

targetmarket

At Marketoon Studios, we develop cartoon series for brands with hyper-targeted audiences. For example, for Guidance Software, we create a weekly series for a market most people have never even heard of: e-discovery professionals.

E-discovery, an emerging field within legal IT services, describes how lawyers exchange electronic files in litigation. If you’re not part of the e-discovery community (and chances are, you’re not), you probably won’t understand most of the cartoons we’ve developed. But among those working in that industry, these cartoons are prized and have been highly shared.

Last year, I traveled to the LegalTech e-discovery trade show, and the Guidance Software booth was mobbed by fans who wanted cartoon prints to take to their offices and hang on their walls. That level of content engagement comes from the power of speaking to a niche audience.

ediscovery cartoon

We’ve created cartoon campaigns for audiences as niche and varied as database administrators, certified public accountants, HR professionals, in-app media buyers, and British secondary school teachers. Each campaign was deliberately exclusive. That’s what made it resonate.

big data cartoon

The same holds true for any form of content marketing. The more focused the content, the better it will stick.

Sailor Jerry gets this. The rum brand recently held a marketing event in Brooklyn that was deliberately exclusive.

For fans willing to get a Sailor Jerry tattoo permanently tattooed on their skin, the company rewarded them with a shot of Sailor Jerry. While this campaign was clearly not for everyone, 200 people lined up at a tattoo parlor in the rain to take advantage of this offer. One Sailor Jerry fan named Sebastian said, “I’m in love with Sailor Jerry. All I drink is Sailor Jerry. You know what, a lot of people don’t really understand, and I don’t expect them to because Sailor Jerry is mine.”

Sebastian’s comment is a wonderful articulation of what a brand can mean to a true fan. These are the types of advocates we need to inspire. It is better to be deeply meaningful to a few than to aim for the majority and get lost in the clutter. In content marketing, preach to the choir. The choir will show up every Sunday, and will evangelize your sermon to others.

This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of Chief Content Officer magazine. Subscribe to receive your free copy.

Author: Tom Fishburne

Tom Fishburne is Marketoonist and Founder of Marketoon Studios, a cartoon studio that helps businesses like Kronos, Baynote, Motista and the Wall Street Journal reach their audiences with cartoons. Follow his cartoons at his Marketoonist blog or on Twitter @tomfishburne.

Other posts by Tom Fishburne

  • http://mbrewergroup.com mbrewer

    These cartoons – no matter the content – are highly effective. I can’t tell you how many times I pause to read such marketing. I love that they are easy, relevant (if done right) and don’t grab too much of my time.

    • http://twitter.com/tomfishburne Tom Fishburne

      I agree. Cartoons are very efficient (but often overlooked) communication devices. They’re like miniature trojan horses for a message.

  • http://twitter.com/GaryHyman Gary Hyman

    Totally agree with you Tom – a narrow and deep well versus a wide and shallow ocean is a good way to go. Way too many people are looking for the “women, ages 18-49, with a pulse”, only to find that they will be drowned by the other fish trying to swim in that huge, unforgiving ocean.

    • http://twitter.com/tomfishburne Tom Fishburne

      I love that analogy of the well versus ocean. That’s exactly right. The funny thing is that it’s by focusing on the well that we’re actually able to make an impact in the ocean too.

  • http://twitter.com/michaelassad Michael Assad

    Drew Davis, author of Brandscaping, describes ‘Fractal Marketing’ – the process of dividing your target market into smaller and smaller niches for maximum profitability:

    http://blog.agilitycms.com/get-rich-target-a-niche

    • http://twitter.com/tomfishburne Tom Fishburne

      Great link, Michael, thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/poppy.mujaya.9 Poppy Mujaya

    love it

  • Joe B.

    Good points. Speaking of niches, the headline of this article only rhymes in the US.

  • http://smallbusinesstalent.com/ Stephen Lahey

    It’s a brave new world for even the mighty P&G, General Mills, etc. I think that CPG companies today are trying to puzzle through what “That niche focus is what gives your message teeth.” actually means to their brand building efforts. Interesting post.

  • http://www.propelgrowth.com Candyce Edelen

    Tom, thanks for this article. What a GREAT example of niche marketing and why it’s so important. I loved the example of the legal discovery people wanting to frame the cartoons for their offices. The more specialized and targeted the content, the more it’s likely the audience is to connect with it emotionally.

    Coincidentally, I just published a blog post this morning on a the same niche marketing topic. People in the IT industry keep running webinars that are targeted too broadly. Since the audience is broad, they need to keep the content really abstract because specific stories won’t be relevant to everyone. It’s a great recipe if you want to BORE your audience. :-)

    http://www.propelgrowth.com/2013/03/15/how-to-lose-your-webinar-audience-in-3-easy-steps

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