You Are Cordially Invited: The Power of Truly Targeted Marketing

Fortune cookies and horoscopes are miracles of marketing. They predict something that happens to almost everyone every day (“You will meet someone new”) and somehow make you feel like it was written just for you.

Well, sometimes. That worked a lot better when I was ten. Nowadays, I’m not likely to be impressed unless every Sagittarius on Earth is run over by a guy named Keith on the same Tuesday afternoon.

On a personal level, I’d like to see a fortune cookie that starts, “Hey Roxanne! Gorgeous blouse.” I’d look down (“How did it know?!”) and then keep reading. How could I not?

Modern marketing works the same way. Gone are the days when vague “fortune cookie” messages pitched to the common denominator have any real chance of success. Yet most financial institutions are still using global marketing, getting a predictably low ROI, then doing it again. And again.

If you insist on spending your resources marketing to everybody, go ahead—but know that 80 percent of them will TAKE money from your bottom line instead of adding to it.

You’ll get a far better return by taking the time to identify the other 20 percent—those who will put money INTO your pocket. Do it by identifying three or four very specific markets you’d like to pursue—possibly based on past successes—then tightly tailoring tactics and messages for each of them.

A given commercial lender might decide to target fast-growth manufacturers, service businesses with fewer than 50 employees, and family-owned and operated businesses. A given community bank might have identified two-income families with kids as one of its best targets and seniors in deluxe senior housing as another. It could be just about anything, but it must be a specific group with shared and identifiable needs and concerns.

Once you’ve identified the markets, don’t go off half-cocked. Slapping a person’s name on the top of a global message does not a tailored message make. The content itself must be tailored, not just the form. Do the legwork to learn their concerns, their habits, and their preferred means of contact—THEN, hit them with a focused, personalized message that will wow them like no horoscope ever could.

If you don’t take my advice…I foresee grave difficulties in your future. Possibly involving a one-armed man, but that part’s fuzzy.

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