The Definition of Shotgun Marketing
The practice of simply marketing to the masses rather than selecting a specific target market. An example of shotgun marketing would be to place an ad on primetime television without researching the buying demographic and focusing the message to that audience (target market). Shotguns blast shot over an area with the hope of a critical hit. The word shotgun is actually defined as “covering a wide range in a haphazard or ineffective manner”.
The Definition of Targeted Marketing
The practice of marketing a specific service or product toward a target audience that is either known to be source of sales or is predicted to be a potential source of sales. This could be based on age, location, gender, income bracket, etc. Smart marketers use targeted marketing through various methods including direct mail and web marketing to focus their energies and investment on that group of people most likely to buy. You could also call this “rifle marketing” as it allows one to take aim before pulling the trigger and therefore hit specific target groups with specific messages and with a more specific result in mind.
Shotgun Shells Vs. Rifle Bullets
Before I spend time talking about targeted marketing I want to state for the record that there are certainly situations where shotgun marketing is appropriate. A new coffee shop could blanket the entire neighborhood with flyers and advertising because everyone is a potential buyer. A pizza delivery place would benefit greatly from “shotgunning” every house within a delivery zone.
However, there are other industries where this is a bad approach. A contractor who blankets an area with doorhangers may be reaching mostly renters. A dentist or chiropractor who blankets flyers in the neighborhood with a free offer or heavily discounted offer may drive up the number of low income patients who will not ultimately buy the more expensive treatments he hopes to sell. The per piece rate may look lower on initial inspection but when you take into account that only a few are part of the buying audience then you would have recalculate the per piece rate. What if only 5 or 10% of the recipients were part of your best demographic? That would drive the piece rate up to 10 or 20 times what it appeared to be!
With targeted or rifle marketing one can really research and plan a campaign around a specific audience who are proven spenders for the specific product or service you are selling.
A targeted campaign may cost more “per piece” but the targets being hit may spend much more money and waste much less of your business’s time and resources with estimates or small sales that don’t result in the kind of income you were hoping for. With a shotgun approach you could end up being very busy, possibly even have lots of leads, but not have the closes and dollars in the bank to show for it.
The more time consuming or involved your estimates or introductory offers are to your business the more important it becomes to have qualified leads taking you up on your free or discounted offers. The short term gain of shotgun marketing could cost you heavily in the long run.
Shotgun Marketing can:
- Cost you high personnel bills
- Put a ceiling on how much your business makes.
- Fix the size of your business and prevent growth of the company due to increased overheads.
Think of Targeted Marketing as “Working Smart, Not Hard!”
Targeted Marketing can be employed in many ways. I have some very smart clients who have used targeted marketing in their choice of business locations. For example, several chiropractors located their offices in middle and higher income areas to attract patients who could afford to pay for packages of treatment and add nutritional supplements to their orders — items which are not tax deductable and cannot be paid for with health insurance.
Other clients know exactly who their target audience is based off their sales experience and are very savvy about aiming the rifle.
RESPONSE! has grown from the ground up on word-of-mouth and targeted postcard mailings. We have refined our postcard, our offer and our targeted lists to a science. In recent months we have gotten so good at this I had to pause our regular promotional mailings as our marketing consultants couldn’t keep up with the qualified leads requesting estimates and information. That’s right, the consultants elected to cut back on marketing so they could efficiently deal with the leads that they had. Again, let me stress these are qualified leads resulting in real sales.
But I will be honest with you. It takes some investment of time and money to figure out the exact right offer to the exact right audience. But, boy, once you figure it out the sky is the limit. If you knew exactly how to obtain an unlimited supply of qualified leads at a predictable cost and with very little competition, what would it do for your business?
There are definite steps you can take to capitalize on your investment of time and effort when it is comes time to plan your targeted marketing campaign.
Here are eight things that you need to know about this marketing strategy.
8 Steps to Focus Your Energies: Your Targeted Marketing Survival Guide
- Know Your Goals Before You Start
You must know where you want to take your business. What are your income objectives, what does experience indicate the most likely path to these income objectives is?
- Do Your Research
Look through your past sales. Find out who your target audience(s) are. Who were the best paying customers, who bought the most of what you want to sell, where do they live, how much do they make? If you can’t find the answers or don’t have the records there are services available that can help you fill in the blanks. I have used these services by typing in names and addresses of good clients and getting their demographic information before matching them up to a list of similar people. The data is accessible very quickly, sometimes instantly!
- Figure Out What Your Most Successful Offer Has Been
What has interested new customers in taking the plunge and buying for the first time from your business? What is the most popular introductory offer or item you have. It is time to put your best foot forward and create the perfect first impression.
- How Can You Reach Your Audience
For me, I have a specific plan in place. RESPONSE! does it’s targeted postcard campaigns with carefully selected lists to generate new clients. We also heavily invest in website content catered to our target audiences that has produced outstanding results through search engine hits.
So for us, very targeted lists plus well thought out web content that targets search engine traffic is our marketing strategy aimed at making contact with our target audience. It allows us to confidently invest our time in our free consulting service that benefits the prospective client in information and attention that few other marketing agencies provide.
- Test What Works
I have used many different postcard designs and mailing lists over the years. What we now use is the best of everything I have learned. I had to go through a few lists and a few designs to nail it down but it works and it has opened the floodgates. I know when we get phone calls from one of our postcard campaigns that each and every lead is fully qualified and a potential sale.
- Keep It Simple
Make your message and offer simple. You can’t make the prospect think. Give him a specific offer to respond to. Make sure he understands how the offer benefits him and how it helps him personally.
At this time it is appropriate to mention a second definition of shotgun marketing which is the practice of uncontrollably offering everything the business has on a promotional piece or in an ad and that gives the buyer so many options he can’t make a decision and so takes the easiest course of action which is to promptly forget about you.
Recently I received a postcard that caught my eye. Sadly, it held my attention for longer on the issue of it’s use of shotgun marketing than the offer it made. It promoted so many messages I couldn’t keep track. On the same postcard offering me an introductory massage it offered me a franchise opportunity and the ability to buy gift cards? Their marketers should be pink slipped for wasting money! Get me in the door for my massage before you start slamming me with other offers. Focus the message, compel me to respond but don’t distract me because my attention is fleeting as I start opening my mail. For a fraction of a second, a self-indulgent massage for $39 sounded like a good idea before the additional offers distracted my thoughts to work and gift purchases. Developing new clients is costly and wasting one’s money on shotgun offers is a flawed marketing plan.
- Track What Works
Please do not embark on a targeted marketing campaign without taking measures to track the results. Make sure your receptionist, or your sales person, or you ask each and every lead how they found out about your business or offer. This is vital to the success of your campaign as you can only modify, improve or keep a campaign going if you have exact, measured results that you base your decisions on. Don’t wing it or guess, because you may throw away a campaign that’s getting great results. Or keep a campaign that’s a dead duck. I have my staff collect the source of each and every lead. Then we refine it even further because every lead we get from our postcard campaigns is found and logged on the exact mailing list that was used to reach them. We throw out the lists that get low returns and keep mailing to those with high returns over and over again. Testing is useless in the absence of measured results.
- Don’t Give Up
If you try targeted marketing be prepared to experience a couple of setbacks before you get it exactly right. Our marketing consultants are trained to give you the best advice for your product or service and you can get advice from them anytime. But generally speaking we have found a few common basic problems that get in the way of results: unexciting or bad design, wrong offer or too many choices and offers, wrong mailing list. I have had the number of leads drop because I changed one word on the front of a postcard. I have had the leads soar because of an extra sentence on the back. I have had lists which got no results and lists that get unexpected results. The two important things to know is that the target buyer exists and that you can find and reach him or her, and then to use the advice in the earlier steps to maximize on results and take as careful aim as you can with the information available. Targeted marketing is very rewarding in the long term and if you overcome the obstacles you will see the results in increased profits and continual growth when you fill your office, business or practice with qualified buyers.