Business of Metalforming
Precision: Pick your Targets
For the moment, imagine a sharpshooter pointing his weapon in the general direction of a “target” and then simply pulling the trigger—hipshot. After the moment passes it’s impossible to change the course of the bullet, so the probability of hitting the target is extremely low. Missing with a bullet is unmistakable, as the paper target remains intact. But with communications (internal or external) or other sales activities it’s not always so cut and dry.
While it’s important to carefully choose your words for a given audience (say engineers versus accountants), you also need to consider industry-specific jargon. For example, a client of ours produces industrial rollers, but if we talk about a specific application of a roll it can have many different names. For example, the same roll product in an identical application—with the only real variation being the industry where it’s used and the material passing over it—is called a wringer roll in one industry, a padder roll in another and a squeegee roll in a third. All the same product, but if we’re talking to machine builders in one industry versus another, then we’d better use their terminology or jargon, otherwise our words are gibberish and our effectiveness diminished.
Scale up the scenario, extend the feedback loop and apply a reckless “hipshot” style to any communication effort and you’ll likely agree that it proves to be expensive. Yet we don’t always take the time to identify our targets or take carful aim—why not? Maybe we think we know intuitively who or what we’re targeting, so we don’t take the time for a gut check? Or maybe we’re impatient, or we’re unsure of how to go about it.
The purpose of targeting is to reduce waste by eliminating those “ears and eyes” that fall into the category of being unintended targets. Typically, we set out attempting to segment a large population into smaller, specific chunks that best define with whom you want your communications to resonate. In consumer marketing, the audience is segmented through definitive combinations of demographics, geodemographics, psychographics or behaviorgraphics. The last two—physiological and behavior-based—are better predictors for future action, but prove more costly to collect, quantify, analyze and understand than basic descriptive traits and location-based quantifiers. While you may start with industry or company type, to be effective you need to break it down to the account and functional levels. Your sales people then should closely examine their accounts, and tune-in to the needs of the individual decision-makers. Understanding and tuning-in on what makes the targets “individual” and what drives their decisions will get you closer and allow you to craft more relevant messages that take the form of your sales approaches, presentations, website, whitepapers, brochures, print ads and so on.
In b2b targeting, start by identifying who or what your target is—this can consist of industry segments, broken further into regions, byproduct classes and down to individual key accounts. Next, recognize what is important or critical for business success to each; what are each segment’s expressed and latent needs. Then you can determine how to meet these needs in innovative, cost-effective ways that positions you better than your competition.
Quantifying who your target customer is and understanding what drives their strategy and business decisions gives you a foundation to build upon. From here you can effectively formulate your marketing mix, sales strategies, approaches and selling models.
In the end, the better your job at targeting the more your sales and promotional efforts will resonate with customers, increasing your potential for consistently hitting that bullseye. MF
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