Sniper targeting


3 min


From Cayan Frey

Online targeting tools make it possible to send an ultra-precise message to an individual who, based on their current behaviour, is likely to be interested in it. However, a large proportion of companies that use these tools do so in the wrong way, targeting the widest possible audience, using an archaic marketing logic according to which the more people we reach, the more successful our communication will be. This is not true.

It goes without saying that there are various potential marketing strategies, traditionally broken down into visibility, preference and conversion.  But it seems that even taking this into account, brands and companies are using the same strategy: large audiences, ultra-generic messages, very little a priori consideration of the best ways to use micro-targeting tools. This is a mistake.

Targeting is not just a tool that enables companies to offer new functionalities and new ways of reaching their audiences; it is an event that is profoundly changing the rules of the market game. Recent years have seen the emergence of new players on the commercial scene. These new players have a particular profile: small to very small companies, with a single product or a very selective range, targeting their audience extremely well, managing the production and delivery chain and the associated communications with as few employees as possible.

The most caricatural example of this is, of course, individuals launching a business on their own, using the new business model known as 'dropshipping'. But you don't have to go that far into the caricature to realise that something we thought impossible ten years ago is actually happening: small players can carve out an interesting share of a given market if they follow a simple procedure: a precise product, shown to hand-picked potential buyers, meeting a specific need, and communicated according to the very particular codes of this target clientele. 

If they are to survive, large companies must learn to fragment.

This is probably true for small businesses, but what about large ones? Let's return to the idea developed in the previous paragraph that the new targeting tools are profoundly changing the rules of the game. Companies today have to learn to play by these new rules. The best thing they can do is to question themselves and change their practices. What the new rules are saying is that, as far as possible, you need to send a specific message to a specific audience. This means that the product on offer must also be ultra-selective. The new equation is as follows: large companies must dissolve into micro-parcels of themselves, operating on a much more precise target clientele, promoting a finer range of products, with specific messages for each one.

To do this, it's not enough just to sort through your products. Knowing the habits, expectations, aesthetic codes and consumer psychology of each particular product means that an entire team has to be dedicated to each of them. Companies can't just pick and choose from their product range, they have to really segment themselves if they want to be effective. The health-care sector is now talking about "personalised medicine", by which is meant the idea that each patient is given a specific therapy, based on his or her personal history. Commerce would benefit from doing the same. If we take this logic to its logical conclusion, an aviation company could, for example, have specific communications for each of its "routes". It's a different clientele that goes to Berlin or Nice, Ibiza or Stockholm. In the same way, a shoe brand could communicate differently, with different channels, different messages, a different aesthetic, when it sells leather boots or sports trainers. And I'm not just talking about the aesthetics of one post compared to another, I'm talking about the whole platform used, I'm talking about the choice of one or other digital media to communicate. This is not a luxury, it's an imperative. Large companies, if they want to survive, must learn to fragment.


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