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you say what #24

April 13, 2008

very well said, from Advertising for Peanuts:

people, not labels

In advertising we study people. We attempt to understand what they want, why they want it and what we can do to convince them. Notice the language I’m already using: we and them. As if we aren’t them.

We also attempt to group people together into targets against which we create messages and buy media.

Do these labels make it easier or harder for us to meaningfully market to people? Is a target group helpful or does it hinder our ability to actually persuade people? Is it possible to market to people, not labels? Should we drop the idea of a target?

So I’ve raised a few questions without answers. Here comes my opinion. I think labels (i.e. targets) are necessary for marketing. We can never capture the complexity of every human being so targets are an efficient and effective way of resonating (at least partly) with a large group of people. Having said that, I think awareness of the abstract and thus, inherently inaccurate, nature of targets is also needed. Without this balance we risk thinking that targets are real, which they aren’t, people are real.

Balance the need for targeting with awareness. Awareness of the risk that thinking of people as targets can block your ability to actually perceive them as real people.

if you haven’t been to his site, i urge you to take a quick peek, coz you’ll always be entertained by his posts!

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