Besides being a really cool store, Target is a word that should be posted on a sticky note on top of every marketers computer screen so that it’s always top of mind.  It surprises me how often I run across promotions that are so broad, or worse yet, totally misdirected that it’s almost unfathomable how they could be very effective.

Thanks to technology and the seemingly endless resources to slice and dice demographic and psychograpic data, there is really no excuse for untargeted Marketing (particularly in the online world).  The catch is that in order to properly target your message, you have to understand who you are talking to in the first place.  This sounds obvious enough, but you don’t have to look very far to find examples of untargeted messaging gone awry.  This usually happens when a decision maker ‘thinks he or she knows.’  It’s one thing to know that you don’t know and ask for help, but when you think you know but don’t, you are in jeopardy!

Of course, this is more pronounced in the Youth segment.  Since most marketers are well outside of this demographic, it is even more important to do some serious homework on what is going on in the minds of these consumers.  Pardon my frankness, but Youth can smell bullshit a mile away.  Over the years, I’ve seen some pretty weak attempts to be ‘cool’ and often it turns out looking like a joke to the people it was intended to win over.  Bad execution can be worse than doing nothing at all, so pay attention and don’t be afraid to ‘not know.’

Use the resources that are available to you!  If your product or service offering crosses over multiple demographic groups and lifestyles, take a more focused approach to each segment.  Check out Pepsi’s approach on their home page.  Notice they don’t ask you a million questions or make you dig through a bunch of pages to get into a zone that you feel comfortable.  They have a few people representing different lifestyles that rotate through the screen.  Depending on which character resonates with you, you can click on the pictures and the site takes you to different promotions that the brand is actively engaged in.  Nice!  One click, and you are escorted into an area that makes sense to you.

Consider creating microsites that speak to the different segments that your product or service is aimed at using language and tone that the each segment will understand and respect.  Use targeted advertising to drive your consumers to the right place.  Don’t rely on your home page, especially if your offering is so general that you have a home page that doesn’t really speak to any specific vertical very well.

Slice and dice!  Get engaged and see how much better your results can be.  It’s addictive once you get started.