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by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

You may have heard about “dog whistling” targeting?  Dogs, as you probably know, can hear a higher pitch of sound than us humans.  Dog whistles can therefore be heard by dogs but not us lesser mortals.

It’s also a technique that has been used in adverting and politics to give a granular focus or targeting to a particular group or persona.  For example, maybe you market or sell to people in the IT department or maybe even the architecture department of IT.  For example, as part of an Account Based Marketing (ABM) campaign there maybe even an individual you want to target.  This is where you might create a piece of content for that team of people or individual.

It is also used in politics to motivate people to vote.  Politicians will come out with polices that will appeal to a particular part of the electorate.  I’m writing this on a flight to Chicago, there was a news item on the radio as we drove to the airport, which talked about reducing the cost of university education.  Now I’m unlikely to be going to university and I have no children, but if you are a parent with children of school age, or a child looking to go to university, such a story or government policy might appeal to you and you might vote for them in the next election.  Dog Whistle targeting.

Last week, my partner and I were watching TV and an advertisement came on and at the end of it, my partner said “That has nothing to do with me!”  What she was talking about that the story, environment and narrative of the advert, had no context to her life.  She was right, her boys are now 22 and 25, so what exactly would something for expectant mothers really mean to her life.

But if you were are expectant mother then the advert would have been highly targeted.

Some content fell on stoney ground

In my previous company content was made in a “cookie cutter” format.  There was a go-to-market procedure and every product launched needed to follow a certain plan or process.  For example, the go to market plan required you to create an Infographic even for personas, like accountants where the people tend not to be visual but factual.  Why?  Because the process said.  A waste of time?  Maybe.

If you think about the way fields were sown, first the field was ploughed and then the farmer would walk along taking the seed out of a bag and throw it onto the ground.  Where it was hoped it would geminate and grow, to be harvested in the autumn.  The problem with this was that seeds fell on stoney ground and was wasted.  If we bring things up to the modern day, where we have mechanically planters that plant one seed equal distance between the next seed, so none are wasted.

Can we treat our content in the same way?

I’m not saying if you want to sell me something you write me a focused white paper, but in a world where rather than throwing mud at the wall (like we did in the 80’s) we have tools that will tell us who our targets are.  Why would we not use dog whistle techniques to appeal to them?

For example, we use a product called Passle, which has something called “I Saw This And Thought Of You” ISTATOY (pronounced “Ista-Toy”).  It’s designed to be used where “experts” need to sell to “experts”.  For example, in large enterprise B2B sales where you might be selling something complex, or where what you are selling requires a big change in the customer you are selling to.  For example, a new accountancy system, which requires a company to make a big change in process, may require you to make multiple contacts in an account.  This isn’t for the cold callers.  It’s for you to find, decision makers, changemakers, internal salespeople etc.

When I started in sales, before the internet, I needed to look after my territory, there were the deals, my current pipeline that I worked on.  But I knew that I need to turn the suspects into prospects.  Nurturing it’s called today.  So I would send them articles in the post (there was no email).  Either an article to remind them I was there or an article after a meeting.

ISTATOY is a similar concept.  You are at a meeting and a prospect mentions something, maybe they are looking for a Gartner magic quadrant, that you happen to have.  So the next day you ISATOY them.  This content is totally focused on them.

Or, and here’s a revolutionary idea for the salespeople reading this, you could write a blog, that would be focused on their business issues and needs.  But a dog whistle, so only they would know.

People who read this also read these:

Social Mis-Giving?

Why a Personal Brand is so Much More Than a LinkedIn Profile

Social: Changing Selling Forever! Tim Hughes Talks to Onalytica


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