Marketing to Zebras

I promised to explain what I meant when I used the word “zebras” in this earlier post.  The idea is that just as zebras are pretty unique animals, so are your customers.  Imagine describing zebras to someone who has never seen one, and how you need to have all the characteristics included before you finally narrow it down:

“They’re mammals.”

“You mean like whales and bats and kangaroos?”

Zebra Diagram

“Yes, but they walk on 4 legs.”

“Toads? Sloths? Alligators?”

“Yeah, but they have stripes”

“Oh, like tigers and coral snakes and hornets!”

“Except they look like a horse.”

“Like donkeys and Great Danes and seahorses?”

“And they have to have ALL those qualities”

“Now I get it!”

There is only one animal that matches all those criteria.  My point is that the days of mass marketing to a demographic are over.  You can no longer target “afluent 29 – 44 year-old males,” or “Small to Medium Sized Businesses.”  You have to market to, “43 year-old Moncton bankers who play hockey and like old single-malt scotch and craft beer and are married to a marathon runner, who have 2 daughters, aged 6 and 4, and drive a ’99 Saab.”  Hey wait a minute, there’s only one person in the world that matches that description!*  That’s the whole thang – you have to market to that one person

Now, you’ll probably want to have more than one customer, so you’ll have to market to a lot of other singular people too.  But each marketing interaction must be between you and that one person.  It’s no longer about one-way, one-to-many, broadcasting.  Now it’s two-way, one-to-one conversations.


* It’s my friend Greg. 



4 Responses to “Marketing to Zebras”

  1. Why Give Away My Secrets? « About Bars & Marketing Says:

    […] Their message won’t appeal to my customers (or “zebras” – more about this in a future post), just as my message won’t appeal to theirs. Posted in Marketing Philosophy. Tags: Business […]

  2. Another Zebra Criterion « About Bars & Marketing Says:

    […] Zebra Criterion April 30, 2008 — sbroox In a previous post, I described the idea of the ultimate segmentation of your prospects into single individuals and […]

  3. The Long Tail « About Bars & Marketing Says:

    […] Long Tail June 10, 2008 — sbroox In yesterday’s post, and in previous musings about the need to have extremely focused marketing, I have touched on the idea that it’s not […]

  4. Good Tchotchke « brooXmark – Marketing Consultancy by Stephen Brooks Says:

    […] least the wearer will think of you once a week or so.  And before you laugh too hard, remember my earlier advice:  if you are marketing to the right person, they’re the only person you have to worry about […]

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