If You’re Going to Target Your Market, Target Your Market!

I heard it again last night. I was attending a marketing meeting, but this time it was a meeting of volunteers whose mission was to recruit physicians for a local free medical clinic. “Let’s try social media!” was the theme of the meeting, to be led by a consultant/expert/good-hearted soul. Nevermind that half of the folks had not even heard of LinkedIn; they knew social media was a hot flavor they had to sample.

First up was the suggestion, “Why doesn’t our clinic have a Facebook page?” Fair question… I politely pointed out that we’d had one for over two years. One would think if you were planning a presentation on social media, you’d have checked that one out. But enough of the put-down. I decided to take command and ask some basic questions. Where are our current volunteer physicians coming from? One of about five local hospitals. Where do most of them live? Again, given the location of the clinic, most reside within about a 15-mile radius from our facility. Next, what are their ages? Consensus was that 70% were retired, but still affiliated with their home hospital. “Call me crazy,” I began, a common preamble to my pronouncements, “but instead of spewing a message out to the couple hundred billion who are on-line in over 160 countries, perhaps we should see if each of these five hospitals can give us a list of their retired physicians? “Oh, I’ve seen that list!” excitedly exclaimed a volunteer. “There’s a local organization of retired physicians already.”

But I come here not to slay social media. It can bring miraculous results to marketers. What I AM here to attack is lazy thinking— those who try to find an easy solution instead of the intelligent one. At meeting after meeting after meeting, my clients, who are all B2B, are asked what companies they’re targeting. (Hint: if there’s more than a 30-second hesitation while the marketers or salespeople in the room are composing an answer to that question, we recommend selling stock in said firm as soon as possible.)

Absent having a handle on how to describe the target market, many marketers seem to want to leave it up… to the market! They spew out e-messages or blog posts or Tweets and they hope that the interested magically are drawn to the message, lemming-like, and hopefully drawn to their website, where they will complete forms and linger on the right pages and get scored and touched and emailed and called… and the target market will reveal itself, like a photo slowly developing in a darkroom.

Knowing what their customer should look like really speeds up the process (and does not crowd out the all-important social media efforts). SimplyDIRECT can build out their lists of accounts and contacts when our clients give us a hint of that those attributes are. It often results in delightfully well-defined, not too terribly large markets, and company counts that the client’s sales teams can actually call.

Napoleon famously said, “If you’re going to take Vienna, take Vienna!” Social media is valuable. Picking up the phone and dialing your market is actually valuable, too.