How many Marketers out there do you think really understand the power of truly targeted messaging in their Marketing Communications?  We’ve heard it all before – ‘I understand my target – Gen X (or whatever broad segment it might be).  I’m running ads on _______ (you fill in the blank).’  Yeah, they really have it down – just spend, spend, spend – spend on ads on all the popular TV shows or websites.  But running ‘targeted’ ads on the latest TV show, magazine, web portal, etc. is only the beginning.  How many Marketers have an active dialogue with their customers and actually know what they are passionate about and furthermore communicate that understanding in their messaging?

I think there is a more effective way of targeting that gets more results in the long run.  Consider this idea – once you understand the segment that you are wanting to speak to, find ways to align your brand naturally into the lifestyle of that segment.  Or how about create something of value for them that is uniquely yours to give.  Find ways to give them something that only you provide and turn them into customers that actually respect you for it.  One of the best targeted promotions I’ve seen recently is Chili’s MySpace Secret Shows promotion.  Instead of just running banner ads on MySpace, they have an entire promotional concept running in the community that is all about supporting music and emerging bands.  If you join the community on MySpace, you get invited to ‘Secret Shows’ in major cities that are not promoted any other way.  How cool is that???  I’ll tell you how cool it is – the Secret Shows profile has over 431,000 members on it as of April 12, 2007!  People camp out the night before the shows to make sure they are able to get in.  And it’s all provided by Chili’s.  Now, I admit, I’m a music fanatic and it has always been a big part of my life, so this really got me excited.  But I’m clearly not the only one.  I’ve always been a big believer in events as a way to align a brand with consumers, but the way this has been packaged is brilliant!  They didn’t just sponsor a handful of concerts and get some branding.  They created an entire targeted community that is passionate about what they are doing, and by the way, they still get all the branding at the event just like they would have with traditional sponsorships.

Bottom line – Chili’s got inside the heads of a targeted segment of customers.  You can to, and you should.  Get to know the segments that make up your customer base.  Really get to know them.  Bring value.  Encourage dialogue.  Become a part of the conversation.  And most of all – do it in a way that is totally transparent and genuine.  Your customers will notice and respect you for it.