Honestly, I write “targeting” because it’s the industry normative term.

But it’s a lousy term most of the time, and especially in this case.

Targeting implies you are hunting. And that implies the customers have to be chased.

Is it any wonder that “re-targeting” is so big right now, essentially chasing “targeted” customers all over the internet with creepy display ads?

Flipping The Script on Targeting

I’d suggest you “flip the script” on that mindset.

Don’t target. Attract.

Attract the kind of clients who will see your business as a blessing.

Clients that prefer you to the point of willingly paying a premium for the privilege.

You are not selecting them, they are self-selecting themselves.

That’s a lot better, isn’t it?

The Non-Negotiables of Attracting vs. Targeting

So what’s the catch?

There are two non-negotiables to making this work:

  1. You must bond with the customer before they ever need what you sell, typically through mass media advertising.
  2. You must attract relational rather than transactional customers.

Pitching Ain’t Attracting

For the first non-negotiable, you can not attract customers by waiting to talk to them at their moment of need.You can only pitch them.

This is why Google limits you to a few hundred characters for your Pay-Per-Click ad. That’s all you need to pitch someone who’s already shopping.

But it’s woefully inadequate if you wish to woo a customer and bond over shared values.

And the context of the conversation is even more insurmountable than the space limits, as anything you say will be seen as an attempt to sell.

If you wish to bond with people, human to human, you have to do so outside of the context of an immediate sales negotiation.

Moreover, you can’t ask for marriage on a first date. Meaning you’ll need multiple conversations or encounters with your prospective customer PRIOR TO their entering the market.

Bonding occurs over time. And it must occur BEFORE the customer needs what you sell.

Ugly Duckling Businesses and Mass Media

Now, none of this absolutely requires the use of mass media. At least for some businesses.

It is possible that you could reach your prospective customers repeatedly, with bonding-style messaging, through something like direct mail or Facebook video Ads or YouTube pre-roll and so on.

A good, if older, example of this would be Gary Vaynerchuk bonding with customers through his YouTube wine reviews.

His customers liked wine, and they liked how Gary could make wine “come to life” for them in his reviews. They followed his recommendations and then bought from him.

But here’s the rub: wine is a “sexy” business.

People who like wine also like talking about wine, learning about wine, watching wine reviews, hunting for good deals on wine, etc.

If you have an Ugly Duckling Business, that provides a service like roofing, for example, you can’t get away with that.

No sane customer wants to think about roofing unless they need their roof repaired or replaced.

So if you wish to bond with customers, you’ll have to use mass media — aka “interruption media” — to enter into the conversation with customers.

Then you’ll need to entertain them with your ads.

And while your ads are entertaining your mass listenership, then — and only then —can you can put out messaging that will attract a self-selected group of customers.

Messaging that’ll make that self-selected group feel bonded to you over shared values, shared perspectives, and a sense that you’re “their kind of company.”

Haters Gonna Hate, Transactionals Gonna Be Transactional

Now that we’ve got the “reach them before they need what you sell” part out of the way, we should talk about WHO you’re hoping to attract.

Basically, they are two types of customers:

  1. Customers looking to get the best buy for today’s transaction, and
  2. Customers looking to find an expert they can trust

Price shoppers have done their own research, are attempting to be their own experts, and just want the best price they can get. Their main fear is paying more than they had to. The only way to “attract” these people is to pitch them on a low price.

Relational shoppers, on the other hand, value convenience and time savings and security and expert guidance over price. They have more important things to do than price shop. Their main fears are making the wrong choice, wasting time, and not getting the benefit that they paid for.

You cannot attract transactional shoppers prior to their need for a transaction. And this goes double for Ugly Duckling Businesses.

But relational shoppers are looking for a relationship and CAN be bonded with before their need for what you sell.

So HOW Do You Attract The “Right” Customers Through Ad Copy?

Easy. You promise the kind of customers that you want, what they want.

They want to do business with experts that they like and trust and who always, always deliver the promised benefit.

They want convenience and sure-thing reliability.

And for the most part, they don’t want to have to think about or deal with mundane crap that would otherwise get in the way of the stuff that is important to them.

Let me expand on that last part.

If the kind of customer I’m talking about pays a professional to do their yard work, they’re not actually paying for a guy to mow their lawn. They could hire a neighborhood boy to do that.

They’re paying to not ever have to think about mowing (or racking, edging, fertilizing, etc) their lawn. They just want to always see a perfectly manicured lawn when they walk outside without ever having to think about it at all.

If your ads convey that, then they WILL attract customers who value that.

And they’ll drive away customers looking for the best price, because they’ll instinctively know that no company who offers that will ever be a low-priced provider.

Voila, “targeting” through messaging.

Except you’re not targeting, your attracting. And attracting is always the better way to go.

P.S. If you’re looking for more explicit “how to” on writing this kind of messaging, you’ll find it here.