Appealing to Your Target Market
It’s a funny thing, this advertising business. There are plenty of people who will equate what we do to door-to-door vacuum salesmen who push past the homeowner as their first act in a three act hard sell. The truth, though, is a lot less interesting. What we do is mix technology, psychology and thorough product knowledge together in a way that demonstrates to a potential customer how much they need what we have to sell.
Obviously, this means that there are a lot of people that we don’t sell things to or even pursue. Those people are outside of your target market. Maybe one day they’ll wander in, but for now, and for this discussion, they’re not important. After all, you can’t service the billions of people on the planet, so might as well not bother wasting ad dollars on them all.
Types of Advertising Appeals
There are several different kinds of advertising appeals. Some potentially more ethical and better received than others. I prefer to stick to the styles that assume that my target customer is intelligent enough to know when I’m puffing (ad speak for lying). What I’m saying is that I’m a pretty straight shooter because I happen to know that you and everybody like you has a computer in your pocket and can verify anything I say. If I say the grass is blue, you know it’s green and I’ve lost all credibility going forward. Makes sense, right?
That being said, I’ve found a few methods that do still really work well and don’t require pushy annoyance, hard sells or stupidity on the part of the audience. These include:
Emotional. Although possibly the most effective, this appeal must be used sparsely. The emotional appeal forces you to put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes and see the world through their eyes. What scares them? What makes them happy? What is upsetting them right now? Let’s say you’re an expert in HVAC and have a reputation for quick, efficient service. Your audience is families with a stay at home parent.
Given this information, you can imagine how upsetting it could be for them if their A/C quit them during the middle of a heat wave. And how this might even be something they fear like nothing else because they have a small child who throws impressive fits in the grocery store. An emotional appeal for an early summer A/C check-up could start with a reminder about that toddler tantrum and finish up with your quick service offering.
Benefits-based. This isn’t far away from an emotional appeal, but there’s a slight difference. Benefits-based marketing starts back in that customer’s shoes, but instead of going for the gut, you’re picking at their brains. What problems are they trying to solve? Maybe they heard a rattling noise in the attic and they’re pretty sure that means they have squirrels running around up there. They’re not really emotional about the squirrels, but they know they need to be evicted.
Your pest control company just happens to be in possession of the newest Squirrel 2000 live trap, capable of capturing up to 10 squirrels in one night. Of course, you assure said customer, you’ll release them into the wild far away and patch the holes that let them into your home to begin with. The benefit approach? Tell that customer that they’ll be rid of their insulation-damaging squirrels all in one night, the critters won’t be able to get back in and they’ll be dealt with humanely, so there’s not a squirrel massacre hanging over the homeowner’s head.
Informational. When you just need to say what you need to say, informational marketing is there for you. In fact, a lot of what we currently call “content marketing’ is actually a type of informational marketing. This blog is informational marketing. I’m telling you about different stuff you can do for your own marketing efforts, assuming that at some point you’ll recognize me as an expert in my field.
Then, maybe one day, you’ll call or email me with a question about how to do something — or even better — you’ll ask me to take over your blog because you’re out of ideas and need to spend more time repairing pool equipment and less time trying to deal with the blog.
There are all sorts of names and subdivisions of marketing styles out there, so don’t think that these are kind of all there are. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, but in my opinion, these are the most important ones to understand and utilize. After all, you can’t learn everything about marketing and still service your customers. I’m here to provide you with the Cliff’s Notes version so you can continue doing what you do so well.