The Target Market As Explained Through Animal Farm: Viral Marketing vs. Effective Marketing
In our efforts to saturate the internet, we marketers seem to forget that achieving viral meme status is, at best, a tertiary concern.
In our obsession to make sure we connect with consumers’ hidden demands, we too often neglect the most essential rule of marketing: “All of our messages should appeal to our target audience.”
Our target audience is mutable, depending on how wide our client’s market share is, and in the case of a vast audience, we should be prepared to make separate ads for each targeted demographic. You don’t develop only ads that appeal to a global audience right now because you may lose individualized brand recall; you jeopardize conversion. In short, it’s easier to achieve message stickiness when your message appeals directly to your target.
Think of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. When Napoleon wants to make radical changes to the farm’s accepted doctrine, he chooses which audience to influence. Benjamin, the world-weary intelligent goat, is never addressed in Napoleon’s speeches. Benjamin is not Napoleon’s target. Napoleon, when he makes the climactic change to Animal Farm’s policy near the end of the book, has his orator Squealer speak with the most easily-convinced animals on the farm, the sheep.
What was Napoleon’s thought process when he made the decision to target the sheep? The first thing he did was identify his “most likely buyer” target. In order to make change happen, he needed animals with short memory, who could be easily persuaded, and numerous enough to drown out opposition. The sheep fit the bill. Benjamin was not addressed in Squealer’s dramatic speech because Benjamin wasn’t the target. He was a creature with a long memory and enough cynicism to be difficult to convert.
Such considerations should be taken into better account by marketers. Whom do we need to convince? Whom can we convince? This definition of a target market has been too frequently impaled as we continue to blindly seek the Nirvana of Viral. What we tend to forget is that Viral Marketing is not worthwhile if we don’t convert our target. We need connections that become customers, remain customers and endorse us.
In the pursuit of going Viral, creative teams often forget CORPORATE messaging. It’s entirely possible for our commercial to be amazingly funny, just as it’s possible for our creative teams to forget to sell our product.
When Squealer creates the slogan for the sheep to bleat he doesn’t make a funny slogan for the sake of entertaining his barnyard friends. Squealer makes a slogan that gets the point across succinctly. Simple, memorable, to the point, the slogan converted the sheep. The sheep did not laugh, but they did bleat the slogan at the right time.