You Want A Needle, Why Go To A Haystack?

You Want a Needle Why Go To A Haystack

One of the many benefits of having 5-year-old twins is that you quickly learn that nothing is obvious. My dynamic duo are going through the ‘Why’ stage, there seems to be nothing that I can say without the response “Why Daddy?”.

“Eat your dinner, there are children starving in Africa”, “Why are they starving Daddy….?” – “We can’t go outside it’s going to rain”, “Why is it going to rain Daddy….?” I have become very good at answering a whole multitude of abstract questions and some very difficult questions and only occasionally do I resort to just making stuff up.

Some of this inquisitive innocence has started to rub off. “It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack” how ridiculous is that – “Why would you look for a needle in a haystack, why not just look in the sewing kit?”.

Let me explain why we look for ‘Needles’ in ‘Haystacks’. As marketers, we want to generate leads, loads of leads. We therefore want to get our message out to as many people as possible and that will enable us to generate lots of leads right? Do the maths, if I run an Inbound campaign that generates 1,000 impressions, that will obviously generate more interactions than 100 impressions, if I email a list of 10,000 contacts that is going to generate more clicks than focusing on a list of 1,000 contacts. Wrong! This is Haystack Marketing, at best it generates mediocre results, in reality, it is hard, frustrating and delivers diminishing returns.

We should never market to haystacks we should market to people. Promoting gym membership to my mother is never going to get results, she is not as active as she once was, but target my sister and you are likely to get her attention.

I hear a lot of talk about Persona Marketing, define the different personas of your target market and then market to these as distinct segments. The theory is commendable, but the execution is often questionable. As part of our Account Based Marketing approach I tend to focus on ‘clusters’. These are groups of targets that have things in common and what I am normally looking for is an industry and/or strategic imperative. Let me explain.

The industry is important as every sector has a different language and nuances in the way they think about things. In simple terms if you do not speak their language your message and credibility will be lost in the translation.

Focusing on the ‘Strategic Imperative’ is where you can really get smart and ensure you are looking in the right place. For example, you have defined the persona of a Finance Director in Retail, great, but the priorities of a Finance Director of a grocer are likely to be very different to the Finance Director of an online branded luxury goods company – if your message is addressing their fifth priority, you are not going to generate engagement, they are not worried about that at the moment, however, address their top priority and you will get attention.

We would all love to do 1-to-1 marketing, but this is only feasible for the largest of opportunities. Cluster Marketing allows you to adopt the same principle but scale it and market 1-to-Few, get it right and the results are transformational. Your message can be laser focused, you will generate engagement and you will out smart and out market the competition.

So, the next time you see a haystack, think about how you are marketing and ask “why?”

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