Mastering the 80/20 Rule in Marketing

A lot of beginner marketers feel that if they can just write the perfect ad copy, the money will start rolling in. They’ll see a massive spike in traffic to their sites and people will open their wallets and start spending everything they can. Business owners and product engineers also make this mistake. “How hard can marketing be?”, they wonder. After all, it’s the product that is going to get people to buy, correct?

While it’s true that incredible products do a lot to sell themselves, presenting them in the right way to the right audience is critical. Just think of all the amazing products that came at the wrong time, used the wrong use cases, or were marketed to the wrong people and failed miserably. Microsoft is a good example of this. While Microsoft has had fantastic success, it’s also had some pretty astounding failures.

When Windows Mobile first came on the market, people commented on how the interface looked good, but the app library was too sparse, the tech was too shallow, and other reasons why the operating system would fail. And fail it did despite Microsoft spending billions of dollars in acquisitions, marketing, and development. Just yesterday, however, Apple released its latest iOS, iOS 14, and funnily enough many of the software updates mirror what Windows Mobile did years ago like reshaping apps and flipping through app icons to display different information.

Some of Microsoft’s failure – and Apple’s success – is tied to the 80/20 rule in marketing. The 80/20 rule states that a business will see 80 percent of its desired marketing results from only 20 percent of its marketing efforts. It’s based on something called the Pareto Principle, which states that 20 percent of something creates 80 percent of the results. How a feature or new tech is presented to your most loyal base will significantly affect your long-term success. The 20 percent must be done right, or products, organizations, and entire businesses will struggle.

Catering to Your 20 Percent

The 80/20 rule isn’t only about marketing. Generally, 20 percent of your customers will deliver 80 percent of your profits. These are the most loyal client base that subscribes to services and buys every product release. The same goes for revenue. You’ll find that, typically, 80 percent of your revenue will be generated by 20 percent of your products. The golden gooses keep laying eggs that cover developing other products that may one day replace them.

Finding and catering to your 20 percent is critical. Failing to dedicate time and resources to your most important customers and products is a huge mistake. Most of your time should be spent engaging with and catering to the most loyal parts of your audience.

Marketing with the 80/20 In Mind

First of all, we’re not saying to abandon the 80. That would be foolish. What we’re saying is to focus intensely on the 20 for the best results. Find your 20 by keeping databases on what type of customer makes the most purchases and spends the most money on what you’re selling. Ask yourself:

  • Where did they come from?
  • What do they have in common?
  • How did they find you?
  • What were they looking for?
  • How much money did they spend?
  • What do they need?

There are a million questions you can ask about your customers to better understand where they came from and why they chose you.

Adding to the 20 Percent

Once you have a firm grip on who your best customers are, where they come from, what their hobbies or interests are, etc., you can start targeting like-minded people or companies to add to your number. You can refine your PPC and your work on other marketing channels to find those people and advertise to them. This can be done by generating text, display, video, and social media content that raises awareness and motivates them to act. Emphasize building a dedicated audience by building email lists and writing engaging newsletters. Survey them to find out what they want from future products. Send them promotional products in the mail. Offer them discounts. Do what it takes to keep them loyal and love your brand. In a word, delight them. When you do that, you’ll see your revenue, profits, and other areas of organic growth increase.

Experimenting with the 80 Percent

The best marketers know they can use the 80 percent to improve their marketing efforts and experiment with different audiences and markets. It’s where you can try new things, test out new ad ideas, and present your products in interesting, different ways. Just because you feel confident knowing who your 20 percent are doesn’t mean you should skimp on the 80 percent. The 80 percent is what’s going to keep you sharp.

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