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Choose Your Targets Carefully

Choose Your Targets Carefully

February 19, 2010

The absolute worst retail experience is Abercrombie. By far. My oldest daughter is only 10, but she got a gift of some clothes from Abercrombie that we had to exchange for different sizes, and I went with her.

The place is dark. It’s loud. And it smells like a seventh grade boys locker room. Not before they shower, after they shower, when everyone loads up on Brut, and the haze is so thick with the stuff you’d think a tear gas bomb went off. In short, it’s a miserable place for an adult.

But the kids, apparently, love it. Which is why Abercrombie creates the experience they do.

I call it obnoxious, but others call it brilliant. Why? Because teenagers don’t need their parents to shop. They have their own money, and the freedom to spend it. So what Abercrombie has done is isolate their target and speak directly to them. Avoid the middle man, the parent.

The want to drive the parents away. Bring the kids in on their own and, once they’ve got a captive audience, work their marketing magic to separate them from as much of their money as possible.

Aggressively targeting your audience.

The other day I saw a communications piece from a firm that highlighted the accounting treatment of FASB 141® and more specifically, how that applied to a bank’s acquisition of a failed institution that had been purchased by the FDIC.

The guys that wrote it certainly knew their stuff. They went through all the debits and credits and even had a nice example to illustrate how to account for the transaction. It was extremely well-done.

And it completely missed the point.

I was told it was a marketing piece, designed to drum up business for the firm’s M&A consulting practice. If that’s the case, then I expect the piece to not be very effective. Why? Because it misidentified its targeted audience.

Here’s what I told my client.

"Wouldn’t you want to be targeting the senior executives at the acquiring bank as early in the acquisition process as possible? It makes more sense to me to position the firm as being able to provide advice on a wide range of issues that should be considered by the acquirer up front. That’s where the value is. If I was running a bank, I’d want yo to tell me how to plan for the acquisition and structure it in a way that provides me with the greatest benefit. I’ll pay for that.

The existing document is written by technical accountants and addressed to accountants. It tells the reader how to account for the transaction after the fact. It will help the firm communicate with their existing clients but I’m not sure how much it will help them getting new clients because the communication piece is positioned too late in the acquisition process. By the time this piece is relevant, the bank has already chosen its advisors."

In many ways, a firm’s communications pieces go back to Composition 101: audience, purpose, thesis. Select a target; figure out why you’re communicating with them; make your case.