Swiss legend has it that William Tell shot an apple off his son’s head with an arrow. The boy from the story is probably lucky William Tell didn’t take a modern marketing perspective — shoot 10 arrows, and call it a success if one hits the target.

To put it in a less medieval perspective, conventional marketing wisdom dictates that you broadcast your ad near and far and put it in front of the most eyes possible. While this increased exposure may be tempting, this is an inefficient approach that will likely yield far fewer qualified buyers than anticipated.

Instead, try thinking “right audience” instead of “big audience.” A broadcast is just that — it skips identifying a specific audience and tries to be everything to everyone. A narrowcast, meanwhile, helps put each one of your ad dollars to its best use by tailoring a message to a targeted audience.

After all, why shoot blindfolded when your sight can zero in on a destination that much more effectively?

How to Home In

As popular as the see-and-shoot approach may be, it’s not your only option. These three strategies put the right demographic for your message in your crosshairs immediately:

1. See what’s in front of you.

Global marketing firm Epsilon estimates that 50 percent of luxury consumers shop elsewhere if a brand misidentifies their demographic or economic profile. So take an in-depth look at your current customers before formulating an attack.

We examined a client selling a high-end, complex product. By analyzing its customer list, we created a list of “lookalike” customers and found the people shopping for the same caliber of product.

It turned out to be a pool of only 200,000 prospects, but now that client knew where to aim its marketing. If you have 1 million customers, find a million more that look just like them. That bit of elbow grease — nurturing the business that’s currently in your pipeline — pays dividends toward that broader scope you’ll want to take in the future.

2. Assess your target.

Finding similar customers isn’t enough; you must also accurately know how they think and act in the marketplace and what makes these prospects attractive. Epsilon notes most luxury brands erroneously generalize their customer base as mostly 45-year-old women worth more than $1 million; in actuality, buyers were nearly 58 percent male, with assets exceeding $500,000.

Once you’ve found your lookalike customers, learn how they make decisions, what makes them tick, and what issues they face. If you can track these customers and know their habits, then you can also find out when, or even where, they’re likely to buy.

You can even ascertain whether they’re searching online — and through which websites. A narrowcast approach will put your message in front of those who are already receptive to it.

3. Take your shot.

With all that information at your disposal, there’s still the crucial element of timing. Once you’ve gathered data on the lookalike customers, you may think about doing direct mail or email campaigns. The potential problem there is that you’ll send your message to the prospect when he’s not ready to buy or he’ll forget about you when he’s finally ready to pull the trigger.

Let’s look back at that high-end, complicated product seller I mentioned before. We captured that 200,000-person market with a targeted campaign that put the client’s message in front of buyers right as they were searching for a product.

We saw where those customers were getting their product news and where they were making their purchases. In contrast, a wider campaign might have missed that specific group of likely buyers or approached them at an inopportune time.

William Tell didn’t shoot the kid full of arrows and then hit the apple. That would have been (at best) counterproductive. Follow the archer’s example: With a narrowcast approach, you’ll hit the right target customer with the right message at the right time. How else will you knock the apple right off the kid’s head?


Judi Hand has served as president and general manager of Revana, TeleTech's Growth Services division, since 2007. Revana provides leading technology-enabled revenue generation solutions. Judi’s background includes 20 years in sales, operations, and marketing at multiple global firms. She has more than doubled the size of Revana, growing its revenue from $45 million to more than $150 million and increasing its profitability by more than 4,600 percent.