April 17, 2014
The Power Of Sloppy
Have you ever wondered how McDonald's and Coca-Cola and Nike and Toyota and Apple and all the other enormous worldwide brands became successful?
For one thing, they were sloppy. They had to be.
They didn't have big data or precision targeting. They couldn't punch a key and immediately identify left-handed Lutheran dry cleaners who rode recumbent bicycles.
So they had to use mass media and talk to everyone. Not only did they not suffer for it, they prospered from it.
Mass market advertising is the most powerful media tool ever invented for the building of brands. In fact, despite the blather of contemporary marketing pundits, it remains so today.
If you walk through your local supermarket, you'll find that these mass advertised brands are the brands you'll find on the shelves. No "Facebook" brands. No "Twitter" brands. No "banner" brands.
Is there a lesson here? There is an enormous lesson staring us right in the face.
It is this: precision targeting may be an effective strategy for direct marketers and niche brands, but if you want to build or grow a big brand, mass advertising is by far your best media strategy.
Of course, some degree of targeting is essential. You don't want to try to sell golf balls to tennis players or run beer spots on "Oprah."
But there is a point you reach very quickly at which slicing and dicing the population into finer and finer fractions becomes counter-productive. Your assumptions become less accurate, your reach becomes less fruitful, and your focus becomes too parochial.
When you target too explicitly, you lose the value of unintended consequences. You lose the power of the unknown. Who would have guessed that 88% of "youth cars" would be sold to people over 35?
The simple fact is that marketers are not as good at predicting the ultimate make-up of their customer mix as they think they are. And the best way to mitigate against this is to be a little sloppy and tell your story to as many people as you can.
If you want to be a niche brand, do niche advertising. If you want to grow a big brand, you need to do mass market advertising.
You need to harness the power of sloppy.