The law of sacrifice

Merlot Marketing the law of sacrifice

Who is your target audience? It’s a seemingly simple question. Easy…anyone in the market to purchase my “widget.” Unless you have Coca-Cola’s marketing budget, this target would be almost impossible to capture. To build a brand, you cannot be all things to all people and if you try to speak to everyone, you speak to no one. You need to narrow your focus to a specific target audience and a singular message. You have to give up something, to get something.  It’s called the law of sacrifice.

Targeting is an issue of prioritization. You don’t want to exclude any audience, but a targeted message is a more powerful message that provides focus for the brand at every point of brand interaction (website, collateral, advertising, social media, etc.).

Before you write copy for a website, before you begin the creative execution for a new ad campaign, before you attend your next tradeshow, first narrow your focus to a specific target audience and a single message.

As the legendary Leo Burnett put it, “Speak to the target, but let others listen.”

FedEx is a great example regarding the law of sacrifice. When starting out, instead of marketing ALL of its services (overnight, ground, second-day delivery), FedEx made the decision to focus on overnight delivery services with the goal of owning this position in the mind of its target audience. By focusing on one message, their message cut through the clutter and secured the position for overnight deliveries. However, others listened and soon, Fedex was the leader for all shipping types and needs.


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