The Message to Market Match

By Ron Rosenberg

To be truly effective in your marketing, you have to make sure that you're promoting your products and services to people who truly need them and can actually use them.

We call this the "message-to-market match" and despite the fact that it's one of the most important concepts in marketing, people seem to miss this with surprising and shocking regularity. Let's take a look at a few examples...

Can We Mow Your Lawn?

Owning a home is generally a good thing, but it does require some maintenance - both inside and outside the house. And if you happen to have any outdoor space at all, you end up either paying a lot of money for a lawn-care service or you spend a lot of time doing all the work yourself.

That's one of the reasons we downsized to a nice townhouse a few years ago. With the kids both out of the house, it just made sense. Plus, since we like to travel, it was a practical decision because a portion of our homeowner dues covers regular lawn maintenance.

That's why I found it kind of funny when we saw this in our mailbox:


It was an ad for a local lawn-care service. They wanted to give us an estimate for mowing and fertilizing our front and back lawns, and taking care of our shrubs.

The ad went on to describe their experience and list their impressive credentials.
And if we were actually in the market for a service like this, I might even call them. But, as you've already seen, no one in our subdivision has any need for a third-party service since our homeowner dues take care of this.
You'd think they might check into this before distributing these cards or sending salespeople door to door to speak with homeowners, but, clearly, they didn't.
Unfortunately, a campaign like this will be just as effective as Omaha Steaks sending an expensive mailer to a family of vegetarians! And regrettably, this wasn't an isolated incident...
Can We Clean Your Gutters?
Just a few weeks later, I arrived home to find this homemade flyer attached to my mailbox with a clothespin:
Gutter Cleaning

For now, we'll overlook some of the glaring errors with this "ad," although regular readers should be able to spot them almost instantly.

The big problem here (again) is that the offer is completely and totally irrelevant to me and to every one of my neighbors. Because along with lawn care, our HOA dues also include cleaning the gutters on our townhouses.
And while I haven't received one yet, I fully expect to get some kind of offer for termite treatments that would be just as useless because, you guessed it, that's also included in the neighborhood services!
So let's move out of the home-care arena for a bit and focus on another important area: car maintenance.
We'll Take Care of Your Mercedes!
A few years ago, when we were in our previous house, I got this postcard in the mail:
Foreign ServiceIt was from a local auto repair shop. They specialize in Mercedes-Benz vehicles, and this card was supposed to be some kind of introduction to their services.
Again, we could spend some time critiquing the basic components of this piece and make a lot of suggestions and improvements.
But none of that even matters because...wait for it...we don't own a Mercedes!
We didn't own one then, we don't own one now, and, in fact, we never have owned one at any point in our lives.
So, in an effort to offer some free marketing advice, I called this business and asked why they had sent me this card, since I clearly wasn't going to be a customer of theirs.
It turns out that the zip code we were living in at the time was one of the most affluent in the entire state, so they sent the card to everyone on that list, figuring that affluent people might own Mercedes cars.
This was roughly the equivalent of renting a helicopter, dropping these cards like propaganda leaflets, and hoping that some of them landed in the driveways of people who actually owned a Mercedes.
When I suggested that it might be more cost effective to create an irresistible offer and present it - with a three-step sequence - to an acquired list of actual registered Mercedes owners, the response I got was that it would be too expensive to do that.
At that point, I ended the conversation because nothing I suggested was going to make any sense to that person anyway.
But what about you? Are you identifying specific markets, developing solutions for their problems, and communicating them in the most effective way possible?
The most powerful marketing strategies are also the most simple ones, and you have the tools you need to make it all work for you.