Target Marketing

In today’s political climate, anything related to guns or gun ownership will stir emotions and debate from both sides of the issue. However, the terms “rifle,” “shotgun” and “target marketing” are widely accepted terms in the marketing field and have been for many years. Shotgun vs RifleThese terms best describe two marketing methods. Allow me to will explain the differences.

A shotgun blasts out a pattern of small projectiles (like BB’s) over a large area. While some hit the center of the target (the bull’s eye) many are scattered outside the effective area. Those BBs that do hit the center of the target may have some impact, but many are too spread out to be totally effectual.

A rifle sends one large single projectile (bullet) towards the center of the intended target. If it hits the bull’s eye, you score! But if it misses, you lose. In the hands of a skilled marksman, the rifle is most effective. In the hands of an astute marketer the rifle approach is also most dynamic and effective.

So how does this relate to marketing? The shotgun marketing approach has been used for years to communicate one message to the mass audience. In other words, the folks in Alaska are seeing the same ads for swimsuits as the people in Florida. And the TV commercial for winterizing your car with antifreeze is being aired in Minot, North Dakota as well as Yuma, Arizona. These are just geographic examples but many other factors enter into the mass market picture.


Target marketing or the rifle marketing approach, is to zero in on a specific market segment. The market may be identified by geographic location, age, income, gender, and/or a host of special needs or factors. For example, have you ever wondered why there are so many automotive products (fliers, auto parts, etc.) advertised in the sports section of the daily newspaper. The answer is because men buy auto products and the sports section has the greatest readership of the masculine circulation. This is targeting the market by media.

The operative word here is DEMOGRAPHICS! To reach a specific market segment you must understand WHO the potential customers are. WHAT are their needs and HOW to reach them. Defining a market is not always an easy task. Most advertisers will claim that they “know” who their market is. Which is based on their contact with a present customer base and their subjective interpretation of why those people are buying from them.

Most advertisers may think they understand who is currently buying their products or services, but they do not know who isn’t buying from them and why. They also do not know who could be buying and what new markets are potentials. How do you find out? Research and objective marketing guidance by a marketing consultant.

As a seasoned marketing consultant in Orange County we can define primary and secondary target markets to “rifle” in on, and also explore the options of “shotgunning.” For more information contact Tom Smisek Marketing Consultants