In advertising, it’s important you know exactly who is buying what you’re selling, and then talk ONLY to those people. It’s inevitable that no matter what medium you choose for your advertisements, there will be a percentage of people who see it or hear it who will NOT be prospects for what you’re selling. So make sure your message is directed and targeted at only those candidates who are qualified prospects.

For instance, if you’re in the market for a new car, there’s a good chance you’ll see all the TV commercials, hear all the radio commercials and see all the newspaper ads for cars. If you’re not in the market for a new car, however, chances are you won’t see or hear those exact same ads. They’re still there but you just don’t notice them. You’ll either “tune them out” mentally, or physically change the channel or turn the page. So what’s a car advertiser to do?! Talk directly to people who are interested in buying cars, instead of wasting time trying to get the attention of those who aren’t.

Some advertisers feel like they need to put something catchy, cute, weird, sexy, colorful or bold in their ads to make sure that every person on earth pays attention to their ad. Then, they figure, if everyone’s looking, they’ve got a better chance at selling to more people (hence…a numbers game). There’s a real trap in introducing your advertising in this manner. Because when you try to speak to everybody, inevitably your message will get diluted to the point where it says nothing to anybody. You can’t be all things to all people.

This is what’s called the TIGGER syndrome. In the cartoon, Winnie the Pooh, there’s a character who is a hyper-active tiger named TIGGER. Tigger has a spring for a tail and his talent is bouncing. He’s the best bouncer of all but his main goal in life is NOT to excel at bouncing, but rather to be liked by everyone else. So he always tries to do what everyone else is doing just so they’ll like him. Someone asks him if he can ice skate, to which he replies, “That’s what TIGGERS do best!” and goes on to crash into a tree and ruin everyone’s fun. Someone asks him if he can climb trees, to which he replies, “That’s what TIGGERS do best!” and then promptly gets stuck at the top of the tree. He does this time and time again until finally, demoralized, he realizes that his efforts are best spent and most appreciated when perfecting his own talent…which is BOUNCING.

There are a lot of TIGGERS in the business world. For example, a video production company wrote an ad to sell corporate videos. They were using e mails to send out their message and quite frankly, the message was extremely confusing. They made about 4 different selling points, had 2 different offers and 3 headlines scattered throughout a ONE-PAGE letter! This letter had a little bit of something for everyone in it. With this particular company, their main selling advantage was low price. Normally, you don’t want to promote low price as the main selling advantage but in this case, they really were lower, and it was mainly because competitors had not lowered their prices over the last 5 years, even though technology had significantly reduced the costs involved with producing these videos. That’s what this TIGGER did best – LOW PRICE.

In their situation, out of the 30,000 businesses on their list, only 10-20% would even be in the market for corporate videos. Take into consideration that out of those 10-20%, they were all on different levels of readiness to buy. Some qualified prospects may not even realize that video is an option for them at this point. Some may have investigated it and found it to be too expensive. Some may have only thought about it. Some may be making videos now, or have made some in the past with another production company. Some of those may be perfectly satisfied; some may be ready to find a new company to produce their video. There are a lot of different situations. You can’t try to sell to all of them at once! You’ve got to make your message focused like a laser beam in order to effectively reach YOUR real target market.

Another example is a specialized box company. While there are not too many things more mundane than cardboard boxes, this company runs an extremely exciting business. They have streamlined production to such an extent that they can design, produce and deliver custom boxes in 4 hours or less. Their fastest competitor can get the same type of custom order designed, produced and delivered in about two and a half days! Most take one to two weeks.

Why would anyone need a box designed, produced and delivered in four hours or less? If a company is manufacturing goods and doesn’t have any boxes at the end of the assembly line to put those goods in, it stalls the whole line and costs the company money. It happens more often than you’d think. So this particular company’s ability to get boxes out quickly not only helps a company out when they get in a pinch, but it could actually save some purchasing agent’s job.

So what does this have to do with knowing your target market and only talking to those qualified people?

They started out filling short-notice, four-hour orders for their big customers. They could actually do it ANY time for ANY customer and hold the pricing to a reasonable level. But they hadn’t promoted it that way, so most customers had no idea they could do this.

Since that was their company’s strength, and it differentiated them from their competition, they needed to put the 4 hour ability towards the forefront of their marketing. They needed to promote it all the time in all communications. The owner’s response to this strategy was, “Well, not everyone needs four hour boxes. In fact, 90% of all companies won’t need that service at all in a given year. Why would we want to promote that?”…Think about it. Why would they want to promote that?

By promoting the 4 hour service, they would let everyone know that they had created an absolute breakthrough in the box business. They would be saying something that purchasing agents would most definitely store in their mental banks.

So a series of oversized postcard mailers was put together and sent out systematically every 3 weeks to a targeted list, along with some promotional products that were imprinted with their new logo, Custom Boxes On Your Dock In Just 4 Hours…Guaranteed. The results? They went from doing one or two 4 hour orders a month to doing as many as seven a day. Many of those were new customers. Who do you think those customers ordered their regular, non-rush boxes from after this company bailed them out of a major jam?

That would easily explain how this box company went from doing $880,000 a month to $1.7 million a month less than a year later, despite losing two major accounts to bankruptcies. They knew their target market, talked directly to them and communicated the exact message their customers needed to hear.

In summary, first identify what you’re selling and who will buy it. And then ONLY talk to those people. People who aren’t within your target will not buy regardless of what you say. It’s imperative that you don’t waste your precious marketing dollars making general statements that may get attention but don’t sell. Pinpoint your message. Pick out your prospects. Talk to them individually. And forget everyone else.