We love to hit the bull’s-eye on our targets. Sometimes it’s fun, or icing on the cake. Other times it’s sheer survival. Whether it’s a basketball hoop, a bead on your dinner, or a marketing coup, hitting your target feels great.

In marketing, hitting the bull’s-eye with a product message translates to sales. Putting together the right elements that prompt customers to romp through the sales cycle is possible today more than ever before. Big Data provides details about demographics, preferences, and online behavior that precisely guides the aim of our marketing arrows.

The personalized pitches we make today are the result of huge advances in technology. Because of the precision possible with Big Data, we can create unique segments of one, appealing to an individual customer to close the deal. Coming up with a scalable way to create all that unique content is our quest, but you’ve got to ask yourself something as you pull the next marketing arrow from your quiver and aim at your target: Have you narrowed your focus too far?

I recently went online to buy a pair of shoes. I happen to like Ecco Windsors. In brown. Sans laces. I found them on Zappos, put them in my cart, clicked all the way through the funnel, and boom, they were on my doorstep two days later. Zappos is great. Sometimes, however, since I am interested in marketing, I toy around a bit. I’ll put several pairs of shoes in my cart, then abandon my purchase to see what happens next. If marketing is working right, I will get a message dangling a deal carrot to prompt a buy. That’s classic marketing that everyone should be doing.

Where can that go wrong? Let’s say that when I went looking for my Eccos online I found them on another one of my favorite sites and put four pairs in my cart, then clicked away from the page without completing the purchase. I continued my online shopping trip, later receiving a text message reminding me that the shoes were still in my cart, along with an offer of both free shipping and a 10 percent discount if I buy today. Bull’s-eye? Nope.

In this case, the vendor thought they knew exactly what I wanted, maintaining that narrow focus on the shoes in my cart. What they couldn’t have known was that I had just found the exact same brand and style of shoe, with a smaller price tag, on another website. Their narrow marketing focus on the shoes alone turned the probable bull’s-eye into a complete miss. Had they broadened their marketing approach, highlighting a handsome belt and some great designer socks to show off the shoes that were still waiting in my cart, they might have sold me those accessories even though I had already bought the shoes.

I’ve watched similar scenarios happen in many sectors, from product marketing and financial services, to home applications and even news stories aimed at automating media for advertising sales. A marketing group, so sure of its decisions, iteratively continues to hone in on trying to beat the control, when widening sights would bring new targets and opportunities into the field.

In the real world, I’ll go with that iterative approach about 70 percent of the time, but 30 percent of the time I’ll pull an arrow out of my quiver, focused on a target created with wildly different variables. As the target moves into the broadening range, I let the arrow fly. Bull’s-eye! Those wild targets may be harder to hit, but when the point pierces dead-center, it’s all the sweeter, especially when you stay hungry for the win.

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