McDonald's spent millions advertising the Happy Meal to children. Yet, who ultimately controls what a child eats? The parent, of course. Yet, McDonald's made billions from the Happy Meal by advertising to the strongest influencer.
There is a bra store near me that specializes in custom-fitted and hard-to-find sizes of bras. They advertise on the local ESPN sports/talk radio station. Yes, a bra store on a sports/talk station. And they're making a killing by saying, "Hey guys, tired of hearing your wife complain about her bra not fitting?"
Later this fall I am going to give out about seven thousand $5.00 gift cards to the students of one of our school districts. In a couple weeks I am going to wine and dine and bribe their teachers through a Teachers' Night Out private party at our store with food & drinks, prizes, fun activities and incredible incentives for attending. I want to make sure that when the teachers hand out these gift cards that we get a great return on our investment.
Too many retailer make the mistake of thinking they have to focus all their efforts only on the person who might buy or use their product. The most powerful push someone gets to shop at your store usually comes from someone other than you. It seems counter-intuitive, but sometimes your best advertising and marketing needs to be directed at a non-customer.
If you can convince the influencer of the benefits of your business, they will convince the end user of your benefits.
There are two advantages to this approach.
First, since you are advertising to an indirect target, they are going to be more surprised (which is a good thing) and interested in your ad. It won't come off as such a sales pitch. The bra ladies weren't trying to sell a product, just to offer a solution to a common problem heard by married men all over the planet.
Second, the influencer has far more power to affect the actions of your intended customer than you do. Word of mouth from a friend always trumps advertising by a company. Let the friends and family and influencers do all the heavy lifting for you.
Yeah, it's risky. All advertising is risky. At least this one has a pretty good track record (or why else would people be trying to ban the Happy Meal toys?)
PS To do this you just have to do two things. First figure out who is that non-customer that has the power to influence your shopper. Is it a parent, a child, a spouse, a friend, an authority figure? Second, figure out a message that will resonate with that person. It is powerful and it works.