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Eight Steps to Target Success

Truly successful targeting of offers and services addresses the needs of the prospective customer. Successful targeting delivers an offer that speaks from your organization’s strength. This article offers you eight steps to target success.

1. Begin Targeting with Segmentation

The first step to effective targeting is to segment the market, select target segments and develop a profile of the target customers. After this is done, it is possible to develop an offer that speaks to the customer needs, attitudes and the context in which the service will be used. This process consists of the creation of a specific market mix to fulfill the needs, as well as the market conditions of each specific target segment. Many marketers simply identify target segments and then deliver uniform services to all. While you may gain some increased effectiveness from targeting, success will ultimately depend not only on targeting the customer but doing so with the right product positioning and mix development.

2. Choose a Strategy

Once you have chosen your target market segments, you must choose a competitive strategy and examine it across target segments. In some cases, it might become apparent that a counter segmentation or an umbrella strategy is applicable. In most cases, however, the development of distinct mixes for each segment is necessary.

According to marketing author Philip Kotler, the only sustainable generic strategy in a segmented market is differentiation. Kotler explains that the only other generic competitive strategy (i.e. low cost) is not sustainable in a segmented market. This is especially the case in the association and content delivery arena where free resources are abundant. In addition, a successful differentiation strategy must generate customer value, provide perceived value, and be difficult to copy.

3. Package Your Strategy into a Brand

At this point in the process, your organization selects those ways in which you will distinguish your services from your competitors. In most cases, differentiation involves multiple elements. In fact, according to branding author David Aaker, “most successful differentiation strategies involve the total organization, its structure, systems, people, and culture.” One way to differentiate is through brand equity building. A strategy based on brand is likely to be sustainable because it creates competitive barriers.

A brand strategy permits the strategist to work with complex concepts and not limit the differentiation strategy to just a few competitive differences. This approach is consistent and reinforces the segmentation, targeting, and positioning (STP) approach. A successful brand strategy builds barriers to protect the selected position by creating associations of the positioning variables with the brand name in the prospect’s mind.

4. Set Objectives and Plan Per Segment

Having clear marketing objectives for each segment is critical to success. The articulation of the specific offers along with their timing, sequence, and packaging needs to be developed through an integrated marketing approach.

When developing the mix, it is common to find that segmented approaches are not pursued with sufficient effort, as building adequate resources for each targeted segment and doing so across channels and media is necessary. The key steps are:

  • Articulate your marketing objectives for each segment
  • Define your communications and positioning objectives
  • Develop a marketing mix specific to the segment
  • Develop a tactical plan that is integrated with overall efforts and is scaled to make an impact on the market segment
  • Embed measurement and feedback plans to ensure increasing returns

5. Conduct Two-Way Targeting

Your organization already has a set of services or products such as conference offers, memberships or publications that you offer. In these cases, the targeting process is accompanied by an analysis of the offers themselves. The objective is to identify the audiences that have the highest interest in them, and the segments where the service is most competitive. In this way, the existing services and capabilities of your organization can be packaged and aimed at the right segments in order to deliver maximum differentiation.


6. Develop a Segment Invasion Plan

The point of effective targeting is to attack a segment with maximum impact while optimizing available resources. By developing a concerted plan to occupy specific niches according to strategic importance and optimum response, both marketing and ROI objectives can be met.

Even though segments tend to be homogeneous, and to be true segments they must have similar responses to key market stimuli, the likelihood to respond can vary within segments and within market niches. From a strategic perspective, it is also necessary to select those niches where your organization can sustain a competitive advantage. Having a clearly identified core target audience and prioritized secondary audiences leads to maximum impact.

Optimizing marketing efforts can be extremely powerful, especially when tactical approaches are direct. In the example below, targeting of a membership offer has the following core targets: influential practitioners, entrants, and mid-career.


7. Maximize Targeting Precision

Using predictive models, geographic targeting, and other methods can help improve marketing effectiveness and maximize response. Using the customer profile, it is possible to narrow down the target profile to specific combinations of attributes including demographic, geographic, attitudinal, and behavioral characteristics which may include:

  • career stage
  • life stage and generational cohort
  • geographic location
  • past purchase/subscriptions/affiliations

8. Measure for Continuous Improvement

Targeting is a dynamic process. Embedding test-and-measure mechanisms in the offers to track success and refine the targeting process can lead to increasingly higher levels of effectiveness. Through up-to-date accurate and relevant customer profiles, segmenting appropriately, and continuous calibration of your targeting efforts, you will increase efficiency and identify new ways to adapt offers to the segment. This will also help you identify segments best suited for existing offers and services.


The key to achieving success in targeting offers and services is dependent on:

  • cohesive market strategy
  • thorough segment-by segment plans
  • marketing activity of sufficient scale
  • measurement process

Once you are able to effectively target in both directions, and embed feedback loops into your strategy, you will be on your way to targeting success. These eight ideas work best together as each one presents its strength and offers a distinct value. Whether you end up using one or several of these methods, it boils down to finding the answers and insights that will help you create the most efficiency. 

We invite you to explore the rest of our web site and reach out to explore what might be the best fit for you. Let’s get the conversation started.


Updated from Targeting Success by Jorge Restrepo, CEO at EurkeFacts Smart Research Solutions, © 2006.

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Jorge Restrepo

Mila Sugovic

Robert Suls

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