Ever hear someone say that? “Looks like we’re going to need a shotgun approach”. This means that you are looking to spray a lot of pellets and hope that something hits. The flip side would be having a “sniper approach” which denotes some planning, accuracy and usually precise targeting. I can’t say that I haven’t seen both succeed, but even the most fundamental marketing principles point to the flaws in Shotgun Marketing.

Here is an interpretation for Shotgun marketing: “We’re not sure of exactly what we’re doing, so let’s just throw something together that casts a wide net so we can start peppering the field will pellets. We’ll assess what it all means and come up with a better plan afterwards.” Pros: wide net, cheaper, quick. Cons: unintended collateral damage, high miss ratio.

Here is an interpretation for Sniper marketing: “Let’s take the time to understand who our target is, spend the resources to verify the location of the target, send in a reconnaissance team and make sure we hit them with a precise shot because we may only have one chance.” Pros: accuracy, perceived and actual sophistication. Cons: costs more time & money.

The easiest example for the Shotgun vs. Sniper approach for us to use would be promotional products at a trade show. You would think that our example would involve mass quantity cheap products vs. premium promotional products. Ahh, but here’s the catch: cheap is not always shotgun! In a world of ROI, even a quantity-driven inexpensive campaign can produce results if the product resonates with the end user. For example, clients have had great success with inexpensive emery boards because it matched their unique target demographic & produced results. Tip: When it comes to hand-outs at trade shows I usually recommend four things: (1) Useful (2) Memorable (3) Brand-related (4) Context.

How about Social Media Shotgun vs. Sniper?

This is also a fundamental question that all marketers need to answer on here. The great thing about this flexible medium is that you can almost use a blended approach since we are still in the Wild West stage of social media marketing and we set our own rules. I do think, however, that Myspace has taught us a valuable lesson early on. I distinctly remember a story I read about a band that had tens of thousands of friends and sold like 100 albums during the first week of their release. Just going online and adding ‘Friends’ does not mean people will like, listen or (an even bigger step) BUY your music. A prolonged, strategic sniper campaign of connecting to real people who really do bond with you as an artist has a much more meaningful engagement and impact to the long-term fan interaction.

So, what’s in your marketing firearm?