hypocritical : talking the talk without walking the walk

October 24, 2005

Maybe you're not the target market

UPDATE (October 25, 2005): If you jump way down this post to the area where I finally start getting to my point, you'll see my little treatise on the egotism of the target market. You can always leave it to me for the cynical viewpoint.

But leave it to Tom Peters and Seth Godin to take a positive spin on that same topic. Turn that frown upside down by reading the converse of my argument in Are you tired? Busy? and The Days of Our Lives.


So, I admit it. At times, I just comment on other blogs. Sure sure, I hear you trying to go to bat for me. "You're just continuing the conversation, Rick," "You're the reason blogs work," "You're a good-for-nothing slacking lazy bas..." Hold up there, tiger. I think we have a winner.

Honestly? You hit the nail on the head.

As a general rule, I only tend to comment when I'm interested in a topic but too lazy to write up a post at hypocritical. Sometimes, they're trying to irk me. Sometimes, they're trying to draw me out. But, even then, I'll usually retreat to my happy place and spend a good deal of time writing a blog entry about it. Then I'll send out a trackback, as sort of a salvo, letting the author know that he or she has struck a particular note, or maybe even a chord. Perhaps an archipelago.

Oh wait, that's group of islands. Sorry, I just liked the meter. Anyway, you get my point.

Why do I do this? Fear of conversation? Partially. But I usually come back to hypocritical to blog about things because I'm too exceedingly verbose. Because it usually takes me far more room than a comment to vent my spleen on any particular topic.

I mean, seriously. Try reading some of the posts here. Now try doing it without a) Getting up for a restroom break or b) Falling asleep at your keyboard. It's not easy. It's not easy. Believe me. I'm in love with the sound of my own writing, and I can't even make it through most of these posts. (Want to know a secret? Sometimes I even fall asleep writing them. Don't tell anyone. That's just between you and me.)

Those of you who do make it through the posts here deserve to be commended. By someone else. Not me. I don't cotton to that kind of behavior, you masochists.

Sigh. When, oh when, you ask, eyes beginning to bleed, will he ever get to the point?

Funny you should ask.

So, I was drawn out the other day. And I commented on a post over at Brand Mantra. I don't know why this one caused me to comment. It just did. Maybe it was because Jennifer had recently updated her photo. I don't know, I tell you. I commented. But it didn't really satisfy me. So, I commented again.

Still, no dice.

Which brings us to today's post.

And what, praytell, was the stimulating topic, you say, that caused me to comment, comment again, and then still decide that I needed to blog about it?

Well, it was about tortillas. That's right, tortillas. And I'll tell you. The post got me thinking about my ego. And the ego of the average consumer.

You see, we as consumers, find ourselves in a pre-Copernican market universe. We, we believe, are the focal point of any product we happen to buy. That we are the target market. That the product better satisfy us or it is wrong. Because it was designed for us. Because, really, for whom else would it be designed? I mean, we bought it didn't we?

I fall into it all of the time. "This is a stupid show. Who would watch this?", "Who uses this site? It's horrible.", "I'll never eat at Carl's Jr. because their inane commercials insult my intelligence." Oh, I'm sorry, did I begin naming names? My error.

But here's the thing: For most of those, I'm not even the target market. Yet, I think I should be. I think everything should be about me.

You see, in these days of (false) entitlement--I, in fact, like to call it the "Age of Entitlement" because I smugly think it makes me sound smart, not to mention it's a rather ironic pun on "elightenment." Oh my, how proud would my English professors be to hear...I'm sorry, where were we? I got wrapped up in lauding myself again.

Oh yes.

In these days where we can have whatever we want, whenever we want it, we begin to get more and more egotistical about everything. And pretty soon we're swimming in so much hubris that it clouds our vision. Oh, I mean my vision. I didn't mean to lump you in with me, because I'm sure you're on objective observer.

And that, my dear marketing friends, is something we must keep in the back of our mind as we develop our marketing campaigns, and our products, and our communications. Because everyone who consumes the message, or uses the product, or purchases the services will believe that it was designed especially for them.

So despite all the efforts to target. To hone. To revise. We're still addressing the market at large.

And that's kind of the direction I went with my comments. To wit:
Comment #1: As always, you got me thinking. Now, admittedly, I'm likely lacking in self-confidence (ahem), but the thought that often crosses my mind in an instance like this: maybe I'm not the target market.

Perhaps, Mission thinks they stand to gain more ground from a different market (one of which you're not a part)? Maybe they're concerned about the environmental market who doesn't like those little slipsheets? Or maybe the conjoined tortilla market is larger than the separatist tortilla market?

In any case, just because we don't like something, we can't always assume that we're the target. I don't especially like speed metal, but I'm not going to tell any of those musicians they're playing the wrong music. Mostly, because I'm afraid they'd hurt me, but you get the point...
Comment #2: Always great to see responses to comments; thanks for responding to mine. To continue the conversation...

I'm assuming the tortilla selection in your neck of the woods may be a little more diverse than the selection here in the Pacific Northwest, so I'll coalesce to your market research on the slipsheets. I don't get those up here with the ones I buy, but maybe the rain keeps tortillas from sticking.

Most interesting thing about your comment to my comment? Whole Foods as environmental. Good positioning there, in so much as your associating that chain with environmental tactics. I'm not sure how environmental chains of that size can be, but they've done a great job of proffering themselves as more eco-friendly than the other big markets.

Who knew that sticky tortillas could ignite such an interesting conversation? Oh wait. You did.

So why, did I have to post this post here at good old home sweet home? Because the worm continued to turn. And that got me to thinking: You can't please all of the people all of the time (Even though, as a Libra, I'll desperately try, if only to ensure that people like me.) Which finally got me to this:

If you continually mitigate risk with your marketing, you may have the widest appeal. Or you may fail miserably.

Maybe good marketing is risky. Maybe you have to risk upsetting some folks to get in tight with other folks. Maybe you have to focus on your target so tightly that you forego all other opportunities. Maybe the value of marketing is in the inherent friction.


And that's why I had to post this. Because my comments didn't cut it. Especially as I continued to think and almost, almost, reversed my own argument. It got me thinking. And even though I've subjected you to this longwinded explanation, I still don't have any payoff. I still don't have an answer.

Circumlocution? Amen, brother and/or sister.

But I'm also still thinking.

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Maybe you're not the target market
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