The audience for an organization’s marketing communication efforts is not limited to just the marketer’s target market. While the bulk of a marketer’s promotional budget may be directed at the target market, there are many other groups that could also serve as useful target of a marketing message.
Targets of a marketing message generally fall into one of the following categories:
- Members of the Organization’s Target Market – This category would include current customers, previous customers and potential customers, and as noted, may receive the most promotional attention.
- Influencers of the Organization’s Target Market – There exists a large group of people and organizations that can affect how a company’s target market is exposed to and perceives a company’s products. These influencing groups have their own communication mechanisms that reach the target market and the marketer may be able utilize these influencers to its benefit. Influencers include the news media (e.g., offer company stories), special interest groups, opinion leaders (e.g., doctors directing patients), and industry trade associations.
- Participants in the Distribution Process – The distribution channel provides services to help gain access to final customers and are also target markets since they must recognize a product’s benefits and agree to handle the product in the same way as final customers who must agree to purchase products. Aiming promotions at distribution partners (e.g., retailers, wholesalers, distributors) and other channel members is extremely important and, in some industries, represents a higher portion of a marketer’s promotional budget than promotional spending directed at the final customer.
- Other Companies – The most likely scenario in which a company will communicate with another company occurs when the marketer is probing to see if the company would have an interest in a joint venture, such as a co-marketing arrangement where two firms share marketing costs. Reaching out to other companies, including companies who may be competitors for other products, could help create interest in discussing such a relationship.
- Other Organizational Stakeholders – Marketers may also be involved with communication activities directed at other stakeholders. This group consists of those who provide services, support or, in other ways, impact the company. For example, an industry group that sets industry standards can affect company products through the issuance of recommended compliance standards for product development or other marketing activities. Communicating with this group is important to insure the marketer’s views of any changes in standards are known.