Become a target brand instead of chasing target customers.

Megaphones! Megaphones!

There was a time when marketers could hold their giant megaphones high and say whatever they wanted. Today, however, these megaphone lie in the hands of consumers. If they think your product is great, it’s all good news—but if the product is anything less than stellar, your most disgruntled customers will also be the loudest ones.

Few brands today can afford a megaphone loud enough to drown out unhappy customers. The little bit they can afford just adds to the overall media noise in the marketplace, and its residual impact diminishes faster than ever.

Stepping up your social media effort may seem like the solution, but before you go back to traditional advertising and PR in search of a bigger, better megaphone, maybe it’s time to take a step back.

The trouble with megaphones 

Advertising doesn’t work until you throw a lot of money at it, but that’s not the fundamental problem. Advertising’s biggest limitation is that you have to choose your target customer before you can do anything at all.

It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the ‘target customer’ is just a fictional character, arbitrarily chosen to represent the diverse range of very real people who will actually be considering your product. That gap between fiction and reality can cause even the most brilliant marketing game plan to fail. Customer research is not an exact science, and your interpretation of that research is going to come out biased. Your creative execution can miss the target, or it can have other unintended consequences. Worse yet, your marketing might end up being too safe as you keep hedging your efforts to account for all the things you aren’t completely sure about.

Ultimately, your target customer is anyone willing to buy your product.

Instead of buying impressions, why not use that budget to serve your customers better? Listen to them. Show them that you genuinely care. Thank them. Add true value. Every once in a while, surprise and delight them. Give them a story about your brand that’s worth retelling. When you develop a real connection with your real customers, you get a whole bunch of megaphones, each one a happy customer telling your story and advocating on your behalf. This is how you rise above the chatter created by unhappy customers.

Crowd-source your marketing with your happy customers.

Stop seeing social media as an advertising billboard space to rent. Seth Godin tells us in his book Purple Cow that people will only tell a story if it’s remarkable. Start seeing social channels as a medium for people to tell your remarkable stories. As those stories are told and retold, you’ll become a target brand. Instead of “pushing” your message out through advertising, use social channel as a medium to “pull” customers to your brand. There is no guessing involved in this case. You can’t go wrong with that.