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Andrea Hill

Make More of Your Marketing by Targeting Motivations

Craft messages that target a particular audience and the reasons they would buy.




Make More of Your Marketing by Targeting Motivations

WHAT IS THE first thing you do when you sit down to provide direction for an ad or promotion? You probably start with the details, then consider general motivations, like an upcoming gift-giving holiday. Then you turn your attention back to the next most demanding thing on your list.

If you give your promotions just 15 more minutes of brain space, this method will deliver more powerful results.

Consider Your Audience

Spend just three minutes considering your audience for this promotion and define them. If the promotion is for an event, you may be speaking to women who have free time in the evenings. If the promotion is for Valentine’s Day, you may be speaking to men who are married or seriously involved. If the promotion is for a sale, you may be speaking to the younger members of your audience who are more sensitive to prices. Frame the audience in your mind, because the next step requires you to be clear about it.


Consider Motivation

The next step is to ponder the core motivation of your targeted audience. There’s superficial motivation, and there’s core motivation. Let’s use the example of the Valentine’s Day gift buyer.

The superficial motivation for purchasing a Valentine’s gift is that to do so is expected, and to fail to do so might land someone in the doghouse. But there are deeper motivations to be considered. Let’s consider two very different motivations for the purchase of a Valentine’s Day gift.

For some people, being able to purchase an expensive gift also makes them feel good about themselves. The core motivation is related to self-worth — an intrinsic motivation.

Some people like how it makes them appear to others when they purchase expensive gifts. The core motivation is related to social status — an extrinsic motivation.

These two types of motivation respond to very different messages. The intrinsically motivated buyer responds to messages that focus on emotional connection, which is best accomplished through stories. They care about craftsmanship and quality, individuality, and self-expression. The extrinsically motivated buyer responds to messages that highlight prestige and exclusivity. They look for social proof, seek validation, and respond to aspirational content.


It’s nearly impossible to craft a single message that communicates effectively with both audiences, and if you try, you’ll end up with a message that speaks to neither.

When I share this advice with business owners, they often react with, “But I want all my customers to respond to my ads!” That’s understandable, but impractical. A broad message might reach more people, but it doesn’t guarantee greater results. Focusing on a narrow, targeted segment of your audience allows you to deeply resonate with their specific motivations, and this precise alignment will drive meaningful engagement and higher conversion rates.



When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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