May 26, 2015

Who Do You Serve?

One of the most important decisions a marketer can make is to define the target market. Who do you serve?

Defining the audience for your brand gives you a foundation to build upon. It gives you the stability to make decisions:

  • How to tell your story
  • How to position your products and services against the competition
  • How to engage your audience in authentic and meaningful ways

Clearly stating who you serve takes your brand to the next level.

Pick Your Customers

“Attempting to be all things to all customers tends to result in underserving everyone. Even the strongest company or brand will be positioned to serve some customers better than others,” writes Roger Martin and A.G. Lafley in Playing To Win: How Strategy Really Works.

Successful brands — Sticky Brands — are deliberate on who they serve. Harry Rosen, for example, is Canada’s largest premium menswear retailer with 40% market share. But they don’t serve all men equally.

Speaking at the Family Business Forum, Larry Rosen, CEO of Harry Rosen, said, “We call our customers MOPEs — Managers, Owners, Professionals, Entrepreneurs.” The average age of their clients is 38, and the target market is high income males between 20 to 50.

This focus creates a foundation for the Harry Rosen brand. Their products and reputation may engage men outside of the target market, but the brand experience is designed for their audience — from the clothing they sell to where they advertise and promote the brand to the store layout and design.

Who does your company serve?

  • Which customers value your services the most?
  • Where does your company deliver a better experience or results?
  • What market segment(s) should you focus on to grow your brand?

Marketing Comes After Positioning

Which comes first, marketing or the target market? This isn’t a philosophical thought experiment about the chicken and the egg. The target market comes first.

Before you get into any marketing tactics and campaigns take a step back. Deliberately define your target market. Who are you serving?

One of the very first challenges I had to overcome in writing Sticky Branding (the book) was to define the target market. “Who was the book for?”

It was surprisingly difficult to answer, because many of the concepts of the book apply to a broad range of businesses. They are universal truths of branding and marketing in 2015 and beyond.

But to grow a brand requires sacrifice. You have to choose your audience deliberately.

I started by crafting a positioning statement. It took me a few weeks and a lot of iterations but I landed on, “Sticky Branding is a branding playbook for small- and medium-sized companies — companies with a marketing budget, but not a vast one.”

This is the positioning statement I used to pitch the book to publishers, and I held onto it through the entire process — research, writing, and marketing the book. I continue to use it as my elevator pitch for the book.

Being deliberate about who the book was for made it a lot easier to build a brand for the product. I knew where to focus my strategy, because I chose the audience before anything else.

Who Does Your Brand Serve?

Pick your audience. Your brand cannot be all things to all people. It’s a matter of resources. Even Apple with its vast cash reserves cannot be all things to all customers. It has to choose.

Defining who you serve is the foundation of your brand. Ask yourself the three core questions of Simple Clarity:

  1. Your are …
  2. You do …
  3. You serve …

Your brand becomes immediately more distinctive and engaging when it’s focused on a well defined target market.

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