In 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.
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.
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.
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.