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Marketing Problem One: Effectively Targeting High-Value Sources of Growth

Marketing Problem One: Effectively Targeting High-Value Sources of Growth

American Marketing Association

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Seven problems. Seven experts. Hear what they have to say about Problem One: Effectively Targeting High-value Sources of Growth

With all the fascination with new marketing concepts, digital technologies and new tactics, there continues to be one foundational issue that is proven and reproven to have a disproportionate impact on the value you create for your business: identifying the highest value source or sources of growth for your brand, product or service. Choosing the wrong target, or one of less value, will certainly lower your growth and return-on-investment potential. It might even fail completely. Traditionally we called this market segmentation but lately, many of the most successful marketers refer to it as “demand landscape mapping.”

There are two critical questions to understand about this subject: Why is this so critical, and how can I do it much better?

In April 2016, the AMA unveiled its new intellectual agenda founded on seven big problems impacting marketing. These seven problems were identified through the rigorous collaboration of practitioners, researchers and experts. Of course, the nature of the industry shifts rapidly. With this in mind, the AMA is consulting industry experts to continue the discussion.


Do these seven problems capture the full scope of marketing’s changing landscape? Addressing the first problem are seven experts speaking for various parts of the industry. Take quiz below to see how your firm is doing.

David Rogers​

Author of The Digital Transformation Playbook and faculty at Columbia Business School

“Is the CMO now the Chief Commercial Officer? For many businesses, the answer is yes. For years, the role of marketers has primarily been to drive demand for existing products and services through customer acquisition and retention. Today, dramatic changes driven by digital and other factors are forcing businesses to look for new sources of growth as old competitive advantages rapidly decline. Marketers are being tasked not just with “selling our stuff,” but with helping a firm transform its value to the market. If the unique role of the marketer is to keep the business focused on its customers, then an essential job of today’s marketer is to discover the next generation of products, services and experiences that can bring value to its customers and earn value for the firm.”

Jonathan Zaback

Chief Growth Officer at The CHR Group

“Need-based targeting is a great way to start. Find the market you want to serve and address its needs. Creating a product in isolation is risky—how do you know it will appeal to anyone but you? The best way to reach a market segment is to understand where that segment “lives.” Brands need to refine their stories, tell them well and communicate them in ways and places where consumers will respond. This is different for each market, but every market is reachable.

We all take positions: in our families, at work,  online. Products need to do the same. Maybe a product is not for everyone. Is there a spin about the design? Is it organic and non-GMO? Is there a celebrity endorsement, or is the focus that it is made by a 3D printer in Brooklyn? There are always stories to tell. Find your story and tell it.”

Jun Loayza

Chief Growth Officer at Bunny Inc.

There is no doubt that the best way to grow as a company is to understand the behavior and desires of your customers. If you don’t know who to target, you can’t properly address their pain points or provide any real solutions to their problems. 

Paid advertising might bring some quick ROI, but not being sure who to target will hurt you in the long run. Focus more of your time on getting to know your customers through surveys and personal outreach to get inside their heads and understand their needs.

By seeking feedback and tweaking your products and services based on their suggestions, you will create a real bond that extends far beyond the experience most customers have with businesses. You will create a human connection that is desired in a world of automated customer service.

Katrina Craigwell

Global Director of Marketing Innovation at GE Digital

Relevance is important to us because of the impact of GE technology, whether it’s power generation, aviation or health care. We have an incredibly wide footprint globally. Even if you are not in the market to purchase a jet engine or a locomotive, chances are that some part of your day has been impacted, hopefully optimized, by GE technology.

We think about the next generation of talent or the people in the current generation who we haven’t been able to reach yet. In the U.S., we’re thinking about how we tell that story to current and future shareholders. We’re also trying to think more broadly about the spheres of influence that affect the short list of people who might buy a jet engine or a gas turbine. 

Scott Davis

Chief Growth Officer at Prophet

Most companies spread themselves too thin when trying to grow their business. They try to land a small share from a few large customers, a little more from repeat customers and round it out with a couple of new customers. But a smarter approach is to focus on targeted segments. Harken back to the first day of business school and applying STP: segmentation, targeting and positioning. 

When working with clients, we focus on the target segments that we believe will ultimately drive disproportionate margin to their bottom line. By taking a smart segmented approach, you will be able to tag and segment customers in your database and be very intentional about whom you’re offering your best “self” to, which will maximize your chances for success and grow your bottom line. 

Ryan Gum

CEO at Attach

A lot of marketers take a “wide net” approach to growth. They get excited by new technology, channels and opportunities so they end up trying a little bit of everything. Experimenting is great, but if you don’t give yourself the focus and commitment to dig a layer deeper, you’ll end up scratching the surface and never find out what really works. If an experiment fails, it’s a lot harder to figure out why than to move on to your next exciting idea on the list. To effectively find and target growth opportunities, you have to focus on one thing and truly learn from your experiments before you can expect high-growth results.

Chris Franco

Founder & CEO at Woodridge Growth

There are dozens of high-value sources of growth, and that is a gift and a curse for growth-focused companies. The key is to implement a system that rewards high-tempo testing of a variety of channels, and from there, have the discipline to focus on the channels that work best. 

The best growth strategies are rooted in a thorough understanding of and appreciation for the target audience. This helps make the right initial assumptions so you can concentrate testing in the right places; not just where the target audience spends time, but where they are in the optimal mindset for your messaging and offers. Marketing is an exchange of value. If you try to be everywhere, you’ll be nowhere. Go where your audience spends its time, where customers want to hear from you and where they’ll respond to you.