Merrily Orsini's Thought Leadership

Defying Conventional Marketing

It’s one of the most important questions a business can ask: Do we know our target market?

Stay with me here while we talk video game consoles for a moment. Like the Nintendo Wii. Just for the sake of argument, I want you to close your eyes and picture what the target market of a Nintendo Wii looks like.

You’re probably picturing a tech-savvy teen. Maybe someone in their 20s. They’ve probably got bleached jeans with holes in the knees. Maybe they have long hair, are unshaven and randomly punctuate every sentence with the word “dude.” There’s a good bet that they consider themselves “professional” students and haven’t held a job for longer than six months.

Fair enough. They’re out there. But if your perception of the Wii market is limited solely to the young, I’ll-never-have-a-real-girlfriend demographic, you don’t truly understand the product, or the needs of the consumer. The truth is, if Nintendo were to focus its Wii ads entirely on this one group, it would lose out on a lot of revenue.
Jeffrey M. O’Brien, a feature writer for Fortune magazine explains,
“While game consoles typically attract youngish males with an antisocial streak, the Wii is bringing people of all demographics together: in nursing homes, for Wii bowling leagues, on cruise ships, at coed (!) Wii-themed parties….”

Who would have thought seniors, and people of all ages would be flocking to Wii consoles to engage in mock boxing matches, make-believe bowling contests or even pretend fishing expeditions? Why do they do it?

According to Carol and Richard Eustice of About.com, it’s about the exercise. In order to play the Wii, people must engage in physical activity by swinging, shaking and jerking a motion-sensitive controller. The result can be a full-fledged workout – with a little bit of fun added in.

“What is most exciting about Wii is that it has unexpectedly put the fun back into exercise and physical therapy too,” the Eustices write in their blog to seniors.

“So why are you pushing this, Merrily?” you may ask. “I own a home care agency – not a game shop. What do you want me to do, stock up on Wii’s for my clients?”

That’s not the point at all. You see, I think there’s an important marketing lesson to learn from the Wii’s story – one from which home  care agencies can benefit. That lesson is this:

Never let your target market get so specific that you ignore other prospective potential clients and referral sources.

When Nintendo developed the Wii, it was quick to recognize that the game console provided more than just a convention gaming experience. It provided something else: exercise. This was an added value the other game systems didn’t have – a value that could appeal to people of ALL ages. So instead of marketing to a single group, the progressive company marketed to everyone who might be drawn to that value.

The same applies to home care agencies.

Home care agencies restore independence, uphold dignity, bring security and peace of mind. Often, the target is solely to the elderly themselves. After all, the vast majority of clients who need home care services are senior citizens.

But home care agencies sell themselves – and prospective customers – short if they are only targeting this one segment. There are other demographics who need care: the physically handicapped, those with mental disorders, parents of infants who suffer from rare diseases.

Think of how these individuals would benefit from in-home caregivers. Yet many of them don’t even realize the option is there. As compassionate care providers, don’t leave them behind. Think of ways to expand service offerings and then marketing messages to reach them as well.

They’ll thank you for it. They may even invite you over for a few rounds of Wii bowling.