Tag Archives: focus

Chasing the Pitch

by Dan Woychick

In baseball, anxious hitters often swing at pitches out of the strike zone. In many organizations, communications staff may feel pressure to chase an audience with similarly unsatisfying results.

What we’re seeing today, often in pursuit of younger consumers on the web and in social media, is not unlike the “gold rush” mentality that met the dawning of the internet era. Many businesses knew they just had to have a website. They weren’t really sure why they needed one, or what to do with it once they had one, but doggone it “we’ve got to get our website up!” Questions about strategy could wait until tomorrow.

A decade ago, in downtown Minneapolis, the city leveled a block of decrepit properties and replaced them with a garish Disneyesque mix of entertainment-focused businesses intended to bring suburbanites into the city. The problem was in the premise that people who are afraid of the big city – those who don’t normally come downtown – would change their behavior because a Hard Rock Cafe just opened. The project has been a colossal failure.

It’s always a good idea to keep your primary audience in mind when mapping out your communications strategy. While it’s perfectly valid to produce materials that are targeted at a broad demographic, the narrower the focus of your communications the better. This website is aimed at 18-25 year olds. That article is aimed at people who like to read 4,000-word stories. This invitation is intended for our friends with deep pockets.

Know who you are. Misguided attempts to broaden your appeal can backfire. Not only will you be disappointed in the response, you may alienate your devoted fans in the process. Sticking to a strategy with a tight audience focus will help you keep your eye on the ball.

57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)

By Dan Woychick

As a favor to a friend, I met with the marketing folks at a small, private grade school a few weeks ago. This school’s five-year enrollment slide threatens its business model, if not its very existence. As the conversation unfolded, I was taken aback by the dizzying array of “marketing” activities the school has dabbled in over the past few years. It was apparent there had been no analysis of the relative merits of one option versus another. All were accorded equal standing: Gotta get your name out there!

This predisposition to action is as common in non-profit organizations as in corporate America. Shoot first. Ask questions later. But tactics without strategy usually amounts to a whole lot of noise signifying nothing. Or as legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden put it: Never mistake activity for achievement.

Witness the headlong rush to social media – Facebook, Twitter, et al. Conveniently neglecting history (remember when TV killed radio?) the true believers assign it magical powers and the actionistas jump on board.

Don’t get me wrong. Social media has tremendous potential … as another channel of communication. And that’s the problem. For most non-profits, adding things to the marketing mix should be among the least of their worries. With budgets and staff stretched thin, “more” is rarely better and can lead to diminishing returns. Better focus – doing a few things really well for good reason – is the best way to make sure your marketing channels are worth watching.