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Worms or Flies

So I once, rather frustratingly, watched a fly fisherman go about catching a fish. Unlike what I had seen on TV, he endlessly swung his rod around, swishing and swirling his line with very few opportunities for the bait to be submerged in the water, let alone for the fish to bite. Eventually my patience died and I asked why he was so annoyingly going about his work. He then, rather stoically, told me that the type of fish he was trying to catch (the name of which I couldn’t be bothered to remember) only ate flies. Not only that, it was only interested in live flies so he had to simulate that as much as possible. He then emphasized the need to first understand the behaviour of your prey before you can catch it. That’s something that applies we can learn from as creatives in our marketing efforts. So today, we’re looking at the types of markets that we find ourselves targeting and how we can attract them. So watch the bull’s eye. It’s CRUNCHTIME!

A lot of the time when we talk about target marketing we usually jump to the usual demographic groupings. We use a machete to hack the market into categories like age, sex, ethnicity, literacy and income in order to ascertain some kind of behaviour and as such determine some kind of strategy. But, like they say, there are many ways to skin a cat but only one way to make it go wood. The demographic route has a nice pseudo-scientific feel to it but it can be a bit too over-elaborate. After all, the categories are many with the resultant permutations and combinations too vast. So in the end you, instead of cutting the pie into edible pieces you can enjoy you end up mincing the pie into crumbs and nobody enjoys that.

Untitled-1-01So to make life easier for myself I use what I like to call the “Awareness/Interest” Matrix. Instead of a smorgasbord of categories that can be subdivided ad infinitum you only need to worry about four. These quadrants apply to any age, sex, ethnicity, literacy, income or any other demographic grouping. Simply put, a potential customer/consumer/client person will either know and want your product, not know but want your product, know but not want your product or not know and not want your product. The table on the left puts it English for us.

Know/Want Quadrant

This is easily the holy grail. If this is you our client base, you have arrived. To be in the Know/Want quadrant you need to have put in the hard yards to establish yourself in the market. Do your marketing, hunt for clients, offer a superior service, deliver on time. Make yourself known for doing the thing that you know how to do. At this point you’re just reaping. Think of an established brand like Coca-cola. Everybody knows them and you have to safely assume that everyone that buys a Coca-cola will know what they are buying and will be buying it having intended to buy it from the onset.

In the option of soft sell versus hard sell it’s rather obvious that those that want your product already would fall on the soft sell side of life. Which means you spend less time and energy trying to convince them to buy. You just need to inform them where they can find you and how much your product or service costs.

Don’t know/Want Quadrant

It’s not often that someone may want your product without knowing it but it does happen. More often than not it’s really because your product or service is catering to an urgent need. For example, if you sell tissue and happen to bump into someone with a running stomach you will have a new best friend that won’t even know your name. This is why I often advise entrepreneurs and experts alike to search deep and try to provide products or services that cater to actual needs. Luxuries tend to give people the luxury of being picky or flat out refusing. But ask yourself this, did you notice the brand of the supercool that you last had on that really hot day? Of course someone may argue that everyone (in Zimbabwe at least) knows what a supercool is. True, but do they know your supercool. That’s the rub here. For the “don’t-know-but-want” market to work it requires you to have the type of product needed even though you or your version of that product are not known.

Marketing, like fishing, needs extensive knowledge of the target, good bait to lure it with and skill from the fisherman.

Don’t Know/ Don’t want Quadrant

And now we start entering hard sell country. This is where you really need to put in some hard yards to get your bread. It is bad enough that your product is not known. Now you have to convince potential clients to give you a chance. If you find yourself confronted with a don’t-know-don’t-want client chances are high you’re dealing with someone that already has a brand that they espouse of subscribe to. Brand loyalty is often hard to break so most marketing efforts would be akin to trying to chop down a redwood with a butter knife. You would have to prove in all your marketing that you can match or surpass what they already know and love. That would make you a promotional home-wrecker but you know how we all react to home-wreckers. But should you still want to try, keep plugging away until you get an opening. And when you do, make it count. Do your marketing, hunt for clients, offer a superior service, deliver on time. Make yourself known for doing the thing that you know how to do. You may start hunting in this quadrant but that’s how you move out to any of the “and want” quadrants.

Know/Don’t want Quadrant

One can console himself with the fact that he is unknown if a potential client doesn’t know him. It gives him the hope that he can at least impress if given a chance. If a person knows your product but does not want it that makes life tricky for you. Of course the first possibility, which is more hopeful, is brand loyalty that you would be trying to break. Imagine someone trying to push Pepsi to a Coke lover, or BMW to a Merc lover,  or Samsung to an Apple lover. The market may recognize that your product is good but will still prefer the product they love. The second possibility is much more daunting. Imagine being given a chance to prove yourself and you right royally fluff your lines. You deliver late, or you out deliver a substandard product, or your overall customer care sucks. Word will spread like wild fire and that disgruntled client will be singing your name for bad from every rooftop and tower. So the market will say, “We know who you are but we are not interested.” Ultimately such an eventuality would be your fault, but what it means is that you will have to work harder to undo that bad reputation. While you only get one chance to make a good first impression you can gain solace in the fact that you also get one chance at a second impression.

Understanding Your Place

Planning for marketing efforts make more sense after you establish in which quadrant your client sits and how much effort it would take to reach it.

Ultimately the goal is to make your way to the know/want quadrant. The key to maneuvering around these quadrants is to know which one you fall in right from the beginning. If you think you’re known you’ll find out the hard way that you’re not. If you think you’re wanted you’ll find out the hard way that you’re not. Also if you don’t think you’re known or wanted an approach deemed too apologetic can sully your reputation. So what you need to do is assess your own standing and be honest with yourself. It is only in doing so that you can plan the action that is perfect for your quadrant and will get you results. Then you will know what type of fish you’re catching and you will know whether to use worms or flies. This has been CRUNCHTIME. See y’all next time.