Let brand haters convert brand lovers

Target marketing lets us train our marketing dollars on that narrow group of people who might want to buy our products and services. But what about all those other people out there we are leaving behind?

The curious paradox in target marketing is that while we focus, pinpoint and carefully select that microcosm of people who are going to live, breathe, and buy our product, we delude ourselves in thinking that the millions of people we intentionally exclude will think, “They’re just saying it’s for them, but it’s really for me too, right?”

When we’re selling something as ubiquitous as milk, soda, or bread, it’s hard to intentionally leave out anyone with a mouth.

“It’s tough,” says an innovation officer at a global jeans brand. “Most people have two legs so naturally you want everyone to buy you, but you know they won’t.” Products as ubiquitous as jeans, cars, water want everyone to love and consume them. Sure, they target their chosen demographic, but then hope everyone else wants in on the ride.

Targeting is a risk, because our bull’s eye may be off center. But let’s not delude ourselves (even as we commit millions of marketing dollars) that those excluded consumers will like us anyway.

Instead, embrace the fact that not everyone is going to want to buy your product.

Admit that some people are going to reject you. Nourish it.

Nothing stiffens the resolve of your enthusiasts than someone questioning their zeal for you.
What the cola war taste trials solved was not so much how much better Pepsi tasted than Coke, but how much Coke drinkers really really like Coke. Want to firm the resolve of pro-choice or pro-life? Question their beliefs. Want people to really commit to green? Tell them how dopey their new Prius looks. Try to convince a 15-year old that any old MP3 player is as good as her iPod. Tell a golfer their new Callaway driver truly sucks.

Those brands and social issues are wrapped up in belief systems that commit them at core levels of human behavior. Knowing there are others out there who don’t believe (and who question their beliefs) makes them even more committed.

Let your core target know there are others out there who aren’t feeling the love and they’ll want you more. Which will make more people like them (in other words, everyone else in your target market) want you, too.

One thought on “Let brand haters convert brand lovers

  1. Great suggestion — and at the meta-level, I really like the asset-based thinking approach seeing your detractors as potentially-valuable assets :-)

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