17 July 2009

A Few Short Thoughts on Niche Marketing, Targeted Marketing, Branding

Very few industries understand the power of niche marketing. It’s often viewed as too expensive per prospect – not realizing that the quality of the lead is usually so much higher. American Airlines tried it a year or two back with their “women’s” website, but that is/was too broad of a niche. Niche marketing is usually seen as something that niche businesses do (manufacturers of fishing rods, motorcycles, etc.), rather than as a viable tool for general marketers.

Niche marketing differs from Targeted marketing in that Niche aims to appeal to a group differentiated by interests (“the pet-friendly airline”); while Targeted sends a specific offer (a “20% off” email to folks who haven’t flown in the past 6 months) to a distinct but undifferentiated audience.

And Branding shouldn’t enter into this at all. Again, few businesses understand what a brand really is. A brand is the message that a business presents to its customers. It is not just a tag line, not an ad headline, not a slogan. It is everything about the business/product – color, packaging, pricing, and, yes, sometimes the tag line or positioning statement.

Think of Spam (the canned food product, not email crime). Even if you’ve never tasted the product, you can probably picture the can in your mind – its size, shape, color. You probably know sort of what it is, and maybe what it might taste like. Thus, Spam’s Brand is one of the strongest possible.

Spam doesn’t even have a cute slogan – “The Breakfast of Champions,” “The Pause that Refreshes,” “Don’t Leave Home Without It.” Wikipedia shows a 1945 ad for Spam, and except for the recipe in the ad (Spam Upside Down Pie) the product pictured could be on the shelves of your local Safeway.