Part 1: Sharpening Your Marketing Ax

July 22, 2016

By Roderick M. McNealy, ANA Faculty

American icons Abraham Lincoln and Yogi Berra are two frequently quoted individuals with decidedly different and remarkable skillsets. What they shared in common was the ability to state truth simply and clearly. For example, a famous quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln is, “If I were given eight hours to fell a tree, I would spend six sharpening my ax.”

Ironically, marketers have so many responsibilities managing the marketing mix that training – sharpening their marketing ax – often gets overlooked. Conversely, physicians and nurses must complete a required Continuing Medical Education program to be re-certified. Specifically, clinicians in New Jersey must have 100 Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits every two years – approximately 40 hours of training. A recent survey of a major marketing organization reported that most senior managers had not received 40 hours of training in their careers.

Yet the opportunity to sharpen your marketing ax is all around you if you know how to access it. Professional Marketers should be asking themselves five key questions when they view any media platform – television, print, digital, billboards, etc. The first of these questions is simple: “Who is the Target Audience?”  

Every effective ad or campaign should have a clearly identifiable target audience. It should jump at the experienced observer. Importantly, this target audience should go well beyond a person’s gender. Really effective marketing should have a clearly delineated target audience easily within reach of the trained observer.

Want to sharpen your marketing ax? Take this test the next time you watch TV, open a magazine, or access your computer. If the target audience isn’t apparent to you, you still have some work to be done.

Rod McNealy is a Princeton University American History Major and Harvard MBA with 35 years’ experience at Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson. He is the author of two books and has taught over 5000 students. At his upcoming ANA workshop, Rod will share the Five Key Questions and cover the key role insights play in breakthrough messaging. 


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