Originally published in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Daily Times-Call.

Mom always began the sell early. A casual word dropped around Thanksgiving, secret smiles directed my way in early December. Perhaps a few bars of “White Christmas” hummed under her breath. Next, holiday songs would ring through the air and the full-scale sale began.

“Wouldn’t it be fun to go out in the bitter cold in the dark of night to ring peoples’ doorbells, that we may or may not know, and sing?” She didn’t really say that, but that’s what I heard. Caroling wasn’t my kind of thing and she knew it. I dreaded the icy winds, the perilous trek, the repeated songs sung over and over again. But Mom loved it, so each year I found myself in her sights.

“Invite your friends, we’ll make a party of it!” she’d say. Okay, closer, but still no sale. “I’ll drive you around town if you want.” Better, but . . . “There’ll be hot chocolate and cookies!” Bingo. Count me in. She knew that even though I really didn’t want to go out in the icy depths of winter, I am a huge sucker for sweets. That particular pitch cut through all of the negative clutter surrounding me year after year, and thus closed the deal.

How does a business break through the constant communication clutter everyone is confronted with? How do you hit that sweet spot? Focusing on what you have to offer, how it helps others identifying who those “others” are is a good start.

Knowing your customers is important. But, what do you really know about them?

Why do they do business with you? Why have they chosen you over your competition? What do you know about them outside of your business? What are their hobbies? What do they like to do? Where do they like to go? Do you know what makes them tick? The answers to these questions, and many more,  will lead you to “hot chocolate and cookies” moments.

Microtargeting does what my mom was able to accomplish – we just didn’t have a name for it at the time.  Microtargeting, (also called micro-niche targeting or micro-targeting or people-based targeting), is a marketing strategy that capitalizes on consumers’ demographic, geographic, behavioral and psychographic data to predict their buying behavior, interests and opinions.  It is used to additionally influence that behavior with the help of a hyper-targeted advertising strategy.

We know that different customers have different opinions, interests, and motivational triggers. The objective of microtargeting is to use this consumer data, along with predictive analytics, to design a more profitable holistic marketing campaign that is personalized for each consumer.

Understanding the full person, as much as possible, provides huge benefits in communicating with them. Each consumer is far more complex than typical identifiers such as gender, ethnicity, or income would have us believe. The closer we get to fully understanding the “why” people purchase our products, or do business with our organizations, the closer we get to true communication and meaningful relationships. When relationships are built and nurtured, we then know what is important – and therefore how to close sales when desired.

There are many ways that this is accomplished from basic research to very detailed analysis. Hyper targeting is extremely effective, particularly through social media and digital advertising. However, there are other effective methods including direct mail and traditional advertising.

I know I’m being targeted when I keep seeing ads for items I peeped at earlier. Sometimes the ads feel a bit like Mom – just off to the side, smiling, waiting for me to realize that I must participate. But if it’s for something sweet, I’m done.

Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising.  She may be reached at 303-651-6612; scornay@comm-concepts.com; www.comm-concepts.com; Facebook.com/Communication Concepts; Twitter @CommConceptsPR; or LinkedIn.

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