The “It Just So Happens” Effect – Bulls Eye Marketing 101

What do junk mail and TV commercials have to do with each other? Simple; they are all excellent examples of The Bull’s Eye Effect. But wait. Don’t we usually throw away our junk mail and skip TV commercials? Well, yes, but… that doesn’t stop companies from making more and more every day.
Why? Simple: blame it on the “It Just So Happens” Effect…

Now, before you ask, the “It Just So Happens” Effect states that for every nine out of ten people who throw away that furniture flyer or carpet cleaning coupon that comes in the mail, there is one person who “just so happens” to need a new piece of furniture or their carpet cleaned.

Or their:

o Teeth whitened
o Hair cut
o Oil changed
o Cruise booked
o Gutters cleaned
o Driveway repaved
o Fill in the blank…

Case in point: My friend’s wife just went back to work. This was good news, great news, the best news – more money, more opportunity, more money – until the laundry started to pile up and the cupboards went bare and the floors got dirty. You see, my friend works from home – and while his wife was suddenly back out in the corporate world, he was left to fend for himself in the domestic jungle.

As a result, he became obsessed with household cleaning products. I don’t take words lightly; “obsessed” really is the right word here. I’d never heard him get so animated about anything as when he discovered the Swiffer line of products. Vacuums that dusted! Squeegees that squirted! Gloves that held static electricity! Mops that vacuumed first! The list went on and on; you’d think it was baseball season and he was reporting the stats of the World Series pairings!

And it all started with one of those cut-out coupons in the Sunday circulars. One Swiffer ad for one Swiffer product – and the rest just kind of snowballed; he was hooked. I can imagine him sitting there that very first Sunday morning, his wife sleeping late after a long work week, dust mites clinging to the hardwood floors, that big, clunky vacuum beckoning from the garage, the paper on his lap when, all of a sudden, he saw that Swiffer duster-vacuumer-squirtie gizmo coupon and that’s when the “It Just So Happens” Effect took, well, effect!

My friend needed a quick, convenient, preferably disposable solution to his daily household cleaning chores and “it just so happens” there was a coupon for a quick, convenient, mostly disposable product staring back at him from some Sunday coupon book he’d probably thrown away without even looking at 4,000 Sundays in a row.

But not this Sunday.

The “It Just So Happens” Effect keeps advertisers paying their mortgages even as our land sites fill with their product. It also keeps us buying, and before we enter the high-tech world of faith-based marketing in the chapters to come, let us not snub the low-tech world of traditional advertising. Remember, it’s all just theory until the cash register rings up that first big sale. What makes it ring for you, for me, for everybody will be something different.

Until you find that “something different,” let’s not rule out anything.

What The Previews Can Teach Us About Making a Direct Hit!

Have you ever noticed that you’ll only see trailers for comedies before a comedy? Or previews for scary movies in front of a scary movie? That’s because like breeds like; an audience for the latest zombie offering is more likely to remember – and look forward to seeing – another zombie movie than, say, a light romantic comedy.

I’ve found that this is a great way to think about how YOU target your customers. If your product or service is the payoff after all those previews, the movie itself, then what kind of preview would be playing in front of it? Comedy? Buddy picture? Family film? Action? Adventure? Thriller?

I want you to take this seriously. We often think in terms of “mission statement,” “purpose” or “elevator pitches,” but those are more company-oriented. Thinking in terms of movie trailers to describe your product or service – and, in turn, your audience – is much more customer-oriented. Your sales pitch shouldn’t be general. You need to zoom in to the core of the audience of one. Figure out the appeal of your product or service to this individual.

Movies come in genres – comedy, romance, thriller; companies come in niches – just as businesses do; for example, retail, B2B, automotive. Seeing your target audience in simpler terms is better for both of you. Be direct. Be clear. Be exciting. Learn from the movie previews. They entice the audience with clips that will appeal to their individual movie preferences.

So, in other words, don’t pitch your zombie flick to an audience that’s hungry for comedy. Like breeds like; find out who would like you and pitch to them. First you have to know what you’ve got on your hands; a comedy or a scary movie.

Knowing what type of product or service you provide should seem like second nature, but if it really was so easy, you wouldn’t be here reading this right now because I wouldn’t have had to write it in the first place.

Let’s say you’re a shoe company. So far, so good. What kind of shoes do you sell? Dress shoes? Flip-flops? Women’s? Men’s? Sneakers? What? Athletic shoes; great. Does that tell you your audience? Hardly. I’ll grant you, nowadays pretty much everybody uses athletic shoes, but that doesn’t mean they’ll use yours.

Taking the athletic shoe analogy a little farther, ask yourself a few questions to narrow the audience:

o Are your athletic shoes edgy enough to appeal to the teen/tween market?
o Are they too edgy to appeal to the senior market?
o Are they cool enough for the college crowd?
o Are they affordable enough to cry out to urban hipsters?
o Are they sensible enough for upscale women?
o Are they rugged enough for working men?

Pretty confusing, isn’t it? Rejoice! There is freedom in simplicity. For instance, let’s pick any target audience up there – seniors, career women on-the-go, weekend hikers, pick one – and you can see how focusing on that audience, and only that audience, means less time spent worrying about the other audiences.

For instance, if you pick weekend hikers, you can play strictly to them. With design issues, with ad copy, with graphics, with seasonal campaigns, with colors, with treads, with laces, with – well, you get the picture.

It’s all bull’s eye; all the time. Now you can finally picture the genre your product or service is in and create a “preview” that’s appropriate for fans of the genre. And remember, it’s not about recreating the blockbuster formula that works for every movie, every time. It’s about targeting YOUR audience with YOUR message touting YOUR product.

Don’t forget our audience of one. When you can ignore all the other sub-markets for athletic shoes and visually pinpoint your genre – weekend hikers – you can now picture your audience of one; that single weekend hiker.

Now real communication can happen – and prospects can become customers. You’ve found your bull’s eye and you’re ready to take aim at it.

Imagine your product or service is the focus of a new movie. Instead of a commercial, make a movie trailer. How will you get the audience excited enough to come back and see it?

Find Your Passion – Find Your Target

Passion, I’ve found, drives the purest form of communication. Think about it: One of the strongest forms of communication is to speak passionately with your audience of one. One of the most masterful practitioners of The Bull’s Eye Effect, Walt Disney himself, was fond of saying, “Let’s never forget that this all started with a mouse.”

Tony Hawk’s version might be, “It all started with a skateboard.”

When a very young Tony Hawk began perfecting his Frontside Ollie Nose Blunt and half-pipe shredding techniques back in the mid-70s, skateboarding was still in its infancy. A few dozen professional skaters were actually able to ply their trade for an income, but the popularity of ESPN, let alone the X Games and (Mountain) Dew Action Sports Tour, were still decades in the offing.

Over 30 years later, Tony Hawk is less a man and more an institution. He recently released the eighth installment in his long line of successful video games, Tony Hawk’s Project 8. Kohl’s stores now sell his exclusive line of clothes and the Six Flags amusement park has its very own “total Tony Hawk experience” ride.

The branding of Hawk’s name was no accident. Says Marshal Cohen, chief analyst at NPD Group Inc., a market research company in New York, “Tony Hawk is a legendary name, yet he’s still alive and on the scene. People pay homage to that.”

According to Mark Hyman in Business Week, “Hawk’s deals, which earn him from $5 million to $7 million a year, according to marketing insiders, rank him among the richest pitchmen in any sport. What sets him apart even from that elite company, though, is his pipeline to young consumers. Strangely, for a father of three closing in on 40, Hawk hasn’t lost his juice with kids, a trick few aging sports celebs have mastered.”

Quick: Can you picture what kind of trailer would play in front of a Tony Hawk movie? I bet you can, the same way you know what kind of trailer would play in front of a Disney movie. I believe that’s mostly due to the fact that, like old Walt himself, Tony Hawk’s career grew out of his passion.

When I meet with new clients for the first time, I can always tell who’s working for their paycheck and who’s working for their passion. Which do you think is the case with Tony Hawk? Clearly, his audience can relate to his passion and, as a result, they are passionately loyal to the father of modern skateboarding.

As you zero in on your target audience, don’t lose sight of the reason you want an audience in the first place – to share your passion. Whatever your passion is – skateboards, books, movies, hiking sneakers, teeth-cleaning, Swiffer-like cleaning products – the closer you can hone in on that passion, the more likely you become to find your audience.

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