The Gong Blog

Marketing Lessons from a Prussian King

That dictum from Frederick the Great, the famed Prussian leader known as one of the great military tacticians of all time, has an indisputable ring of truth, even to us civilians. Spread your armies too thinly, and you’ll not have the critical mass to mount a sufficient defense. Makes sense.

The same is true of marketing. If you attempt to market to everyone, you really aren’t marketing to anyone. And for the same reason – you’ll have diluted your resources to the point where you are unable to make adequate inroads to even your most important target markets. And yet, I see marketers making that costly mistake all the time.

There was a time when firing your marketing budget from a cannon made sense. The thinking was, lob enough munitions onto the field of battle, and you’re bound to hit something. So, take out print ads or put up a billboard or, if you have the budget, run those TV spots. Chances are some of your target prospects are bound to see them at some point.

To be fair, those of us in public relations are not immune to undertaking that strategy. Earned media placements in national outlets can put a giant stamp of credibility on a company or product, not to mention raise its visibility to new heights. And so, we can justify that kind of indiscriminate carpet bombing, just for the sheer weight of it. (Even so, unlike advertising, targeting a national publication in PR doesn’t really cost any more than pitching a local penny saver, so aiming high and wide can pay big dividends now and again without breaking the bank.)

But the times, they are a changing. Given the resources that are now available – resources that allow us to pinpoint who sees what content and when – a marketing strategy that is overly broad reminds me of those Outback hunters from Monty Python who hunted mosquitos with bazookas. Talk about overkill.

The point is, if you’re not yet employing a content strategy – either as your principal strategy or as a supplementary one – it may be time to begin honing your approach. Here are four elements of that strategy to consider:

Identify the who.

Begin by fleshing out who exactly is your target audience. That can start by looking at your best customers and determining what they have in common. Whose problem are you in business to solve? And while you may think that your product or service is so awesome that just about anyone could use it, remember the Frederick the Great maxim. Focus on your core prospects and then prioritize them. After you get to three or four of them, stop there: that’s where you should target your troops.

Personify those audiences.

Once you’ve identified your core prospects, make a point of getting to know them better. What position do they hold in the companies they work for? What problems do they have and what solutions are out there to fix them? How old are they? Where do they get their information to stay abreast of industry trends? What publications do they read? All this information will help you personify them, and we go a step further by creating personas of each category of prospects – Marketing Mary or CEO Carl or Housewife Hanna. By bringing prospects to life, so to speak, you can continually assess whether your marketing efforts are hitting the mark.

Targeted Content.

Once you have your core set of personas, it’s much easier to create the kind of content that would appeal to them. Show off your expertise by creating content that demonstrates you know what you’re doing and that you’ve solved problems exactly like the ones they have. Of course, with different personas, you’ll want to develop content – blogs, white papers, case studies, video interviews, etc. – that appeals to each persona category. Create an editorial calendar to make sure you hit each category on a regular basis.

Targeted Social Advertising.

Okay, you’ve established your core personas and created content that should resonate with each group, the next step is to ensure that the right people are seeing that content. It’s time to amplify that content so that it appears in the news feeds of your prospects’ Facebook and LinkedIn pages. These platforms have some sophisticated targeting capabilities, giving marketers the capacity to spend ad dollars with incredible efficiency and precision.

If your marketing strategy is too ambitious, take a lesson from Frederick the Great and decide which ground is the most important to defend.

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POSTED IN: Strategic Communications

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