(Occam’s) Razor-Sharp Targeting

straight razorA straight razor–used properly and with care–can do the job as well (or better) and far more cheaply than one of the newfangled five blade gizmos being sold by the big consumer products companies.

Likewise, sometimes the best targeting and segmentation schemes are Occam’s Razor-like in their simplicity and effectiveness, as Bob Hoffman reminds us.

Instead of building out complicated schemes, let’s think of targeting in two ways:

  1. They’re in the market for your product/category
  2. They are not in the market for your product/category

Too simple you say? Try this the next time you watch TV. Sit there with a pencil and paper, instead of your iDevice. Place a mark in one of two columns every time you see an ad. On the left if you’re “in the market” meaning you either buy in that category of product or believe you will in the near future. Make a mark on the right side if you’re not in the market for that category either now or in the future.

You’ll see Wanamaker’s Law at work. A minimum of 50% of your marks will be on the right side of the paper. You might see a lot more.

Tons of client money, bolstered by fancy and expensive segmentation schemes, is being spent every time you watch the tube. Yet most of the time you find yourself thinking “I’d never buy that thing or that category. Why the heck are they wasting my time with that ad?”

I used to work for a large publishing company where our segmentation scheme was based on Occam’s Razor. Either you had what we called “the collector instinct” and were in the market for continuity products or you did not. We tried to focus on the former and spent zero time and money targeting the latter or tying to convince them that they wanted our products.

We only sold a few billion dollars of stuff with margins that enabled us to have a couple of private villas on the Costa Del Sol with a great chef. I guess we were too dumb to know that we could have been more sophisticated. But we ate really well!

The trick to making Occam’s Targeting (TM) work: You have to make sure you define your category correctly. Too broad and the razor fails. Too narrow and you don’t scale. Price, purchase occasion and lifecycle all matter in defining your market.

Need help? Give me a ring.

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