There are two key mistakes I’ve seen marketers of all disciplines, including myself, make during my days in this business. Okay, so I’ve seen a lot more than two, but these two specifically kill great ideas before they ever get a chance to live and push forward bad ideas that never should see the light of day.
Mistaking yourself for the target audience. This happens every day both on the client side and the agency side. “I would never stop by Bryant Park on a whim and stand in line for a free spa experience.” Of course you wouldn’t. You’re a 52-year-old man. We’re targeting 25 – 50 year old women, remember?
That’s a pretty obvious example, but I’ve seen clients say something along those lines many times. Here are a few examples of different statements used to kick off this mistake.
- “I would never do that.”
- “Would you really take time to do that?”
- “Would that actually be compelling to you?”
Be on the watch for this mistake and, when it rears its ugly head, politely call attention back to the fact that it is intended to connect with the target.
- “I agree. I’d never do that either. Luckily, I’m not the target audience!”
- “It wouldn’t be compelling to me, personally, but our focus groups show that the primary audience loves it.”
Mistaking yourself as the spokesperson for your demographic. This holds as much potential for problems as the first mistake. Let’s say you actually happen to fall within the demographic breakdown of your target audience. That’s great, but it doesn’t make you the spokesperson for the whole group.
For example, I can’t tell you how many times someone has looked at me in a brainstorm or when discussing a new idea and said, “As a dad, what do you think about…?” I’m more than happy to tell you how I feel about anything, but that doesn’t mean all dads feel the same way. Approving or squashing an idea based on the feedback of one marketing team member who falls within the target audience is a huge mistake.
Make sure your ears perk up when you hear a colleague say something along these lines:
- “Well, I have two kids and I would never do that!”
- “There’s no way me and my girlfriends would ever do that.”
- “My little brother is in college and he would love that! We should do it!”
When you hear these things, politely call attention to the fact that the culprit doesn’t speak on behalf of the entire target audience.
- “That’s great to know, Joe. It’ll be good to see how that message does in testing.”
When you ask a colleague for her opinion as part of the target audience, remind the room that she doesn’t speak for the whole group.
- “Liz, I know you don’t speak on behalf of all 20-somethings, but how would you react to that promotion if you saw it in-store?”
Have you been the culprit of these mistakes before? Have your ideas been the victim of them? What other critical mistakes have you seen marketers make that kill efforts before they ever make it past being printed on a sheet of paper?
*Image by tiny_packages.