Welcome to what I intend will be a regularly published thought piece on marketing and media. I’ve made a career out of bucking conventional wisdom and challenging the status quo, so expect thought provoking content that challenges your thinking. I invite you to comment, tell me how big a fool I am or whatever pleases you, but do come back and read again. Does One Size Really Fit All?

Often times I work with segmentations which reveal clusters of potential customers with varying motivations and category needs, yet most marketers I’ve run across try to create one lowest common denominator message delivered with a media buy that focuses on a broad demographic group. While not wanting to alienate large segments of the population is good, what results is a message/media strategy that is bland, non persuasive and ultimately unsuccessful.

What I have found is the most mundane categories often have the most deeply rooted psychological drivers. Think about why you drink the brand of coffee you have most often. Are you a functional buyer or an aesthetic buyer? Is price a factor or are you willing to pay premium price for better taste? Is fair trade or organic important to you? What about convenience? Many brands can appeal to multiple motivations, yet rarely do they segment their marketing efforts to match the consumer segments.

What confounds me is that in today’s fractured media world we can create unique messages and media strategies for multiple audiences yet most marketers don’t. Why? I can only guess that marketers are on austerity budgets as it relates to producing multiple executions. But is trying to save money actually costing money in lost sales opportunity? I believe so. Marketers opt for heavy ‘weight levels’ of universal messaging instead of pinpointing messaging at the appropriate times. What we have is a case where audience metrics (GRP’s, high levels of reach, and low CPMs) overrule the business metrics.

So, what’s the fix? Start with a segmentation based on the different motivations for your category. Identify the segments that you can compete in based on matching your traits with customer needs and create messaging/media efforts that appeal to each unique group. How much should you spend behind each segment? Depends on the value of the segment; are they heavier users or lighter users? What are their purchase influences? How competitive is the segment? This is how you determine where your next best dollar should be spent.