Target Marketing

By | Monday, February 06, 2023 Leave a Comment
I've been working in marketing in various capacities for about a quarter century now. One thing I've seen over and over again is that mass marketing does not work. Not unless you have the budgets of enormous corporations like Coca-Cola or McDonald's, and can regularly afford to throw millions of dollars away on ads that the vast majority of viewers, at best, ignore. John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half”. I can't find when he actually said this, but since he died in 1922, that means he wasn't talking about internet ads, or TV ads, or even radio ads but print. When the only outlets for advertising was newspapers and sandwich boards and posters. Even billboards (as we generally think of them) weren't really a thing prior to ~1890.

Wanamaker lived before mass media existed. His advertising dollars were inherently targeting people within a small geographic region. Any ad he put out was effectively limited to the line of sight of wherever it was placed. Newspapers probably gave him the greatest reach but still, if he were advertising his department store, a newspaper would only reach people in the delivery area -- maybe just the city itself -- and who would travel much further beyond that anyway in an era before cars were anything but a luxury for the ultra-wealthy? (The first Oldsmobile was produced in 1901, but Henry Ford's steamlined production didn't make cars affordable until 1913.) So before the very idea of mass media existed, while businessmen were forced by default to target their marketing to some degree, Wanamaker still understood that he wasn't able to target his ads enough to waste less than half of his budget.

I see that even more today. We had a client who was trying to promote their online Master's in Marketing degree, and they were specifically targeting people in their 30s who had expressed an interest in marketing and who already had a Bachelor's degree. Kind of smallish audience already, you might think. They were getting zero traction, though; it was still too wide a scope. They were getting literally zero leads for months at a time. It was only when I suggested we narrow that down further and start targeting people interested in some of the specializations that were within the program did we start getting some responses. Even more recently, we're looking at some additional narrowcasting and even though the amount of broader site traffic we're getting has diminished, we're getting the same number of active leads. We're basically spending less money just to attract people's attention, but still getting the same results because the money we are spending is targeting the people who are already interested in that particular degree.

Where am I going with this? My point here is that if you're looking to market your comic -- regardless if we're talking about Kickstarter campaign or a webcomic or whatever -- you need a laser-like focus on your target audience. You can't just go out to the world trying to target "comics fans" -- you need to figure out precisely who is going to take interest in your comic and focus on them very specifically. Are they actually the type of person who visits Frankly, if you're reading my blog, then probably not. Nothing against CBR's audience to be sure, but I don't think there's much overlap between theirs and mine.

Of course, finding that specific audience for a comic is easier said than done. But the effort is worth investigating. Just because someone likes comics doesn't mean they'll like yours. You need to really zone in on what specifically are the traits that would attract an audience to your comic and tailor whatever advertising or marketing you do directly to them. Otherwise, you'll be throwing away an even greater percentage of you advertising budget than John Wanamaker was!
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