Every marketer is familiar with the challenge of crafting a strategy that rises above the noise of a crowded marketplace.

It goes something like…“If our name was just out there more…what can you do to help us stand out?”

It is as if delivering the right artwork will transform a mere mark into a logo as ubiquitous as Nike’s swoosh. Turn the right phrase and a tagline finds the tip of every tongue.

Bottom-line? In large part, in spite of all common sense, we tend to equate marketing with any one of a number of deliverables.

During my days in advertising I worked with an award-winning commercial jingle producer who captured this unrealistic view of what can be accomplished via a single tool or message. In his song, the “Jingle Writer’s Blues,” each successive verse adds to a list of client directives for an innovative thirty-second masterpiece. The chorus adds one final refrain — while innovating, “make it sound like the Pepsi jingle.”

Today the deliverable may be a website that engages, a viral video, a captivating fan page, or a killer client or social media event.

Even where resources don’t compare with national advertisers, there seems a quest for the impossible — the right tool coupled with a magic message that instantly bridges the gap between unknown and trustworthy; between massive opportunity and measurable ROI.

We reason…it works for brands like Nike and Apple; surely it will work for us. Never mind the fact that the deliverables with which we are infatuated represent a fraction of a robust strategy.

And the belief that relevance is born of visibility precipitates grasping at one “opportunity” after another, without leverage or focus. And with minimal effect.

Want To Be Known? Begin With A Target In Mind

By contrast, pin-point a Target, and you can become visible and relevant almost as quickly as one can say “just do it.”

Whether sole proprietor, Main Street entrepreneur or global partnership, strategic business development and marketing begins with target identification.

But with a world of possible clients out there, how do you begin to narrow the scope in a productive way? Here are three ideas to jumpstart the process.

  1. Target around experiences, culture and a language you know. Middle-aged men are not wise to assume they know how to connect with the teen or twenty-something woman. Pick a target with whom you can connect.
  2. Focus on affinity and shared aspirations. Though Nike will happily sell to an over-the-hill couch potato, their primary target dreams of conquering new foes. This is the target. Anyone else with whom they connect along the way is a bonus.
  3. Calculate the metrics. No matter how creative and compelling, a marketing/biz dev initiative will amount to wasted resources if all of the arithmetic attendant to a relationship between you and the target does not work.

There are other criteria of course. These are simply idea starters. Please share yours.

Once a target is identified, an effective plan maps the most efficient route to the right conversations, experiences, and collaborations. This is the road to profitable business relationships.

It’s not as sexy as a high profile ad. But if you’re selling a service, there is more to marketing than visibility. Relevance and trust are rarely bought. Measurable business development begins at the point of target identification.