How to Narrow Your Target in Email Marketing

In MSN’s  Slate.com, on March 29, 2010, there was an article by Seth Stevenson titled “Psychedelic Cat Food”, with the subtitle “Why is the new Friskies ad so trippy?”   As a cat owner…or as I often refer to myself…a cat staffer…I was intrigued by the title. So I read it…and watched the video ad.

If you do any marketing at all, I encourage you to likewise.   If you’re an email marketer, I strongly encourage you to read it…and to watch the video clip it’s based on. 

Why?  Because Seth gets to the heart of why the ad was created. 

You don’t have to belong to a big company like Purina (owner of the Friskies cat food brand) to understand the importance of target marketing.  Nor to understand the viral potential of video clips posted on YouTube…or embedded into an email message.

This ad is about a cat that comes into the kitchen for its “treat” — a can of wet cat food — and is then “transported” through a “magic portal” into an imaginary outdoor world, and back again…to experience a can of Friskies cat food.

So..now that you know that much, would you say the target market here was…cats? 

OK, of course not.  Cats…as far as know…can’t tell us whether they would buy this cat food based on the ad…or not.

So…basically…the target market…is cat owners.  In this interview, Seth does a great job of interviewing the Purina marketing director Susan Schlueter, to ferret out “the rest of the story” on how this ad was created…and who…exactly…it was created for.

It’s a great exercise in thinking beyond the obvious.   The question is, will it capture the needs, wants, and desires of a specific market, and then entice them to buy? 

This ad is about the close relationship…between the indoor cat and its owner. 

Well, kind of.  It’s about what marketing creatives think  the close relationship is between the cat and its owner.  What do cat owner’s think their cats are thinking (how’s that for “thinking beyond the obvious?) …when they’re sitting at the window, or staying home alone and crawling up the curtains, and all those fun things indoor kitties do when we’re not around?

So this ad “envisions” what cat owners might think the sensory, sensual experience of the cat is when eating wet (canned)  cat food.  Off on an outdoor adventure…then back to the safety of home and hearth.

The article describes further, though, the detail of the specific market Friskies is targeting.  Not “just” cat owners, but, according to Ms. Schlueter,  “cat owners who are very involved with their cats, and have a deep relationship with their cats. These are owners who love to get inside and experience the magical world their cats experience.”   So we’re talking here about a very specific niche market inside a larger market. 

Then, drilling down further, the marketing director says it’s even more defined…that it’s an attitudinal,  not demographic, target.  In other words, it doesn’t matter your age, gender, where you live,  or how much money you make.  It’s about your relationship with your cat.

So what are the key points you can take away –and take to the bank if you use them?

  1. There are plenty of small niche markets inside of larger markets.
  2. How your prospects feel…attitude…can cut across and through all segments.
  3. Relationships matter.  When you “think beyond the obvious” to drill down to relationship connections, you can tap into many triggers that initiate buying behaviors.

Make every email marketing dollar count.  Think beyond the obvious. Whether you work for a large or small company, or yourself, the more specific your target is, the easier it is to identify with them.  And, the better you are able to capture and describe the experience you’ve identified,   the more likely the message is to feel personal…meant just for them.

By the way, I let my cats watch this video clip, and they both sat up and took notice.  I’m not so sure it was the adventure that intrigued them, though.  It seemed more related to the “chirping bird.”  Hmmm…canary dinner??

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