September 6, 2022

Marketing Myth: Targeting Everyone Means Selling to No One

We often hear gurus preach that “targeting everyone means selling to no one.” Sounds wise, but what does that really mean in practice?

Should we all lock and limit ourselves in offering one service/product to a single market?

Not quite.

This popular advice shouldn’t be taken as a one-size-fits-all approach. Because while trying to be everything to everyone is often a sure way to fail for startups, solopreneurs, and bootstrapped companies with limited resources, it doesn’t mean everyone should always stick to serving one segment with a single service/product offering.

In fact, finding and focusing on a niche is just one targeting strategy.

Here’s a rundown of the targeting strategies from the book Principles of Marketing.

🎯 Undifferentiated Marketing

You can use this strategy to target the entire market with the same offer and brand message. We’re talking about mass production, mass distribution, mass promotion.

This is for you if…

• You have uniform products that vary little in design or function. Think steel. Or salt. 🧂

• Your potential customers share similar taste or buyer behavior

🎯 Segmented Marketing

This is when you divide the market into segments and design a separate offer for each.

Let’s say you have a car company. You can offer budget cars, family cars, and sports cars. Then you can promote each type of car to different segments using different marketing approaches.

This strategy costs a bit more than the other strategies listed here. But if you have the resources and bandwidth to show up for your customers this way, go for it!

“Being all things to all people leads to marketing failure. This doesn’t mean you can’t offer a broad range of services, but understand that each category of service is a separate campaign.” — Allan Dib, The 1-Page Marketing Plan

🎯 Niche Marketing

NITCH or NEESH? However you pronounce it, you can use this strategy to serve one or two segments with the same offer.

Before Amazon became an everything-under-the-sun store, the company first focused on selling books. Estee Lauder first sold face creams and oils before becoming a beauty empire with a slew of cosmetic products.

If you’re just starting out and have limited resources, you can use niche marketing to focus on your key segments and offers without shelling out too much

🎯 Micromarketing

This highly targeted strategy is for you if your business serves local segments or individuals with super specific traits (e.g., location, household income, occupation).

Which targeting strategy should you implement?

According to Philip Kotler — the father of marketing — we can pick the right targeting strategy based on the following factors:

  1. Business size, objectives, and resources
  2. Product variability
  3. Product life-cycle
  4. Market variability
  5. Competitor’s marketing strategy

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