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Selective Marketing: The Power of Making People Feel Special

In most marketing, advertisers’ aim is to reach as many people as possible to sell as much of their product or service as they can. By casting a wide net, they can effectively reach their target market and even some consumers from beyond that group. It’s this strategy that results in the creation of big budget advertisements for national events like the Super Bowl, which regularly has more than 100 million viewers in the United States. While creating an ad with high production costs to effectively reach a significant number of potential consumers is often a tactic for marketers, not all brands want to target a large audience; sometimes, brands want to target a specific group instead.

For example, the insurance brand USAA recently came out with a series of ads specifically highlighting the exclusivity of their products. While USAA has been providing insurance for the military community since 1922, they only began advertising significantly in the media over the last 10-15 years after expanding their offerings to non-officer military members and their families in an attempt to more effectively reach this group. to the families of the military community. The result are ads that specifically, and overtly, target that group.

While USAA has always stated in their ads that their products are meant for the military, only recently have they put a spotlight on it. Within the last year, the company has come out with a new campaign featuring NFL tight end Rob Gronkowski, a civilian with no ties to the military. In the spots, Gronkowski attempts to receive insurance from USAA, only to be denied because he is not an active military member and does not have any family that is. While this might frustrate non-military viewers, as it does Gronkowski in the ads, the fact is that they are not a target audience of USAA. Instead, the ads highlight the importance USAA places upon military members and their families, making the group feel special in a way that few other insurance companies can emulate. This is what is so effective about the campaign; it’s difficult to ignore a company that shows such deep care and interest in a group (or someone specifically.)

All brands have target audiences, but rarely do they let you know that you’re not in that audience. Like anyone, potential customers of a brand have a desire to feel special, and wanted. USAA, while overtly spurning non-military members, does a great job with this campaign of embracing and highlighting the military community.

While it is still too early to know the success of USAA’s latest campaign, it certainly made a splash with its likeable, well-known lead and unique messaging. It will be interesting to see if this campaign style is emulated in some fashion by other brands to reach their target audience, or if this will be limited to a brand that only sells insurance to the military community. 

Written by Matt Burr - Matt has experience in marketing and communications roles at a number of organizations.

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