Language and words matter. Especially when you are undertaking a branding or marketing project.

Too many times when doing branding efforts and marketing campaigns the term “target” or “target audience” is used. But the word target implies you are shooting at something or someone. And no one wants to get shot.

What do consumers really want from you? They want to be your partners. They want you to help them. They want to know you have their back.

Yes, target marketing matters. You certainly can’t be all things to all people and you must allocate your marketing dollars wisely by choosing certain segments with the right messages.

However, in our effort to focus we sometimes lose sight that people are people.

Think in terms of what type of people you help the most. Who benefits the most from your products or services? Whose unique needs are you best at meeting? That mindset changes the focus from a target to a person.

What words can you use besides “target?” As mentioned above, try partner (and if you are a credit union stop using the term select employee group: no one knows what that means). You can also try “ideal member or customer.” Perhaps “key group” is an option.

Any of the words above work. They imply your focus is on the consumer and not just what they can do for you. Branding and marketing is not about you—it’s about them. And the “them” don’t want to be your target.

Think about yourself. Would you rather be someone’s target or someone’s partner?

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