From TA to TE – How jazzed are you?

21 Dec,2012

By Shaleen Sharma


In baseball, there are “good hitters” and then there are “power hitters”. The epithets themselves are self-explanatory. Power-hitters are those who swing the ball harder with roughly the same stance and effort.


Maybe, that is why, coaches believe that if you can teach a “good-hitter” some extra bit of power, it is an endeavor worth the effort.


If I were to choose a singular concept in Marketing as if my life depended on it, I would choose Positioning. I hope many of us would do the same.


But one concept that edges close is Target Strategy.


It is great to see most marketers putting so much of creative energy working out the positionings of their brands & product lines. May be, some bit of that creative energy needs to be directed towards developing a better sense of what is clinically called – Target Audience.


It is surprising to witness the sheer agnosticism around the TA field in marketing briefs. While Positioning is regularly evaluated & refreshed in consonance with the changing times, TA understanding is seldom revisited or re-scripted.


The world we live in spawns a consumer culture that is fast changing. Amidst such an environment, the right user group can be the best “message amplifier” for a Brand.


Apart from right positioning this can be the single biggest opportunity window for the success of a marketing / brand campaign.


Let me exemplify it with two recent & extremely successful campaigns / products where the positioning remained more or less the same but the real innovation was in rethinking the target audience strategy.


Breaking Dawn -An audience with a muscular commitment:

On November 16th, Summit Entertainment released a much awaited sequel to the 2011 film – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1. Needless to say, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 has witnessed an unheard of viewer response.


What could be the reasons?

For much of the last decade motion picture as an entertainment product looked for teenage males as their target audience. But this TA was gradually being lost to Games, Television & Social Networking etc. Twilight in that sense made an exception. It pitched itself to an overwhelmingly female audience. With Kristen Stewart as the emotional centre of the franchise these women audience embraced the product and made it into a blockbuster.


One important point-of-difference these women audiences had from males was that they were more enthusiastic about the movie, made it a point to tell it to at least a couple of their friends and created a swirl of buzz around it. These women were not just consuming the product. They were propelling it. They were not just Target Audience, they were evangelizers.


To their credit, the creators of Twilight have understood this quite well. The producers of Twilight have been running a successful online & social media relationship with these Target Evangelizers.


On Twitter and Facebook the Twilight network has 1.1 million & 80 million followers respectively.


When Bill Condon, was brought on to direct Breaking Dawn, he introduced himself to the fans on the Facebook page. In that sense, it was not what classic advertising would have done. It was like a classic gossip-update with friends.


Obama – A tale that grew in the telling:

Similarly, what has made Brand Obama successful is not just the voter turnout this year. It has been a cache of people spreading the “Obama message” full time. Right from 2008, especially in the swing states of Virginia, Ohio & Iowa, these people had been evangelizing the Product Obama.


David Plouffe, senior adviser to the Obama campaign called it the “persuasion army”. What this “persuasion army” did was to send e-mails, make phone calls & conduct meetings in their own real-life social circles. USA Today reported that by January this year this persuasion army held 2700 house parties. These people were not just consuming the Obama product. They were abetting it, giving it momentum and making it unbeatable.


So how would you like to characterize your Brand’s consumers? Target Audience or Target Evangelizers?


The writer is Partner – National Planning & Strategic Initiatives, RK Swamy BBDO, New Delhi


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