Who Are “The Right People”?

When you work on a marketing campaign, it’s natural to want to make sure you’re targeting “the right people” with your message – the people who are most likely to do business with you.

Media people have access to a variety of research tools to make some educated decisions about the kind of people who are listening to, reading, watching, or logging onto our media. And a lot of time, effort and money are spent in trying to pick the vehicle that reaches The Right People.

If you promise not to tell, I’ll pass along a dirty little secret of this business:

The Right People are listening to my radio stations… and my competitor’s stations. They watch TV (a whole bunch of channels, too). Some of them get their information from the newspaper, and some from the internet.

Further complicating the picture is the fact that very few people make decisions by themselves. People talk to each other and influence each other’s choices. The end user may or may not be the person who decides what to buy.


In large companies, office equipment may be used primarily by administrative personnel. But the sales order may be issued by someone in the purchasing department. And orders over a certain size may need the blessing of the controller or even the CEO. All of those people may even seek advice from colleagues at other companies.

Here’s how the Phi Beta Kappa college honor society solicits members, according to the Wall Street Journal: “You get a letter during junior or senior year, with congratulations and a request to pay an initiation fee (generally $50 to $90). If you don’t respond, some chapters send a follow-up letter to your parents.”

Who makes the decision to enroll in Phi Beta Kappa – the student or the parents? And when you’re marketing office equipment, what target do you choose?

You can spend a lot of time agonizing over the question. The beauty and the curse of marketing is that there’s no one right answer. The odds are pretty good that whatever media choice you make (“Cheney for President” on a Progressive Talk station being a possible exception), you’ll reach a significant number of The Right People, and you’ll miss some others.

Make sure that the people you do reach hear your message often – the more often you talk to someone, the better the chance he’ll give you a call when he has a need.

Then, using the time you saved by not agonizing over your media choice, agonize over your message. Make sure that your story matters to your prospects, and that you tell it well.

I can help you with that.

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2 thoughts on “Who Are “The Right People”?

  1. I agree! I write promotional copy for small businesses and a large part of what I do is “get the right message to the right people.” I’m often advising my clients that an advertising campaign is kind of like a stock portfolio – chances are it will perform better if it’s steady and well diversified.

  2. A nice point, I think this is very relevant, especially in local market places. It may not apply quite so much for Companies with a niche global market but I agree even then too much time is spent agonising over the media to use and not on the message put across. Frequency too, is a good point and coupled with consistency and variety I think provide crucial elements to ongoing branding and awareness campaigns.