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After decades with big brands, I realized how much I love marketing small ones. I'm happiest around a table (even a virtual one) with clients, sharing plans that help them reach the right people. I'm a simplifier and a creator. Also, a lover of cute office supplies.

  • Writer's pictureStacy McPhillips

Why Target's marketing strategy is awesome and how it can be replicated

It's no secret that I Target. I rarely shop in person anywhere anymore, but I can still get behind a good Target run.

Here's the TL;DR version of the awesome Target marketing plan!

And, it turns out, they were leading in year-over-year growth in holiday sales this past November. Some of this is a return to in-store shopping, but Target has a marketing strategy designed to grow sales and keep customers engaged.


So, what is Target doing right?

And can you replicate it?

1. Offer convenience.

Convenience is an underrated marketing concept.

Consider how you can make it easier for customers to get your products or services? Target offers a lot of different ways to shop with them.

  • In-store

  • Online

  • Pick-up in-store or drive-up, and they'll bring your order out

  • Delivery in partnership with Shipt

You, too, can offer convenience by having an online ordering system, offering delivery, extending your hours, contactless shopping, scheduling appointments using an automated scheduler, or quick access for questions using a chat function on your website.

2. Partnerships extend your audience.

Target has partnered with other retailers who likely share their customers and have brought them into their stores. Partnerships with CVS Pharmacy, the Disney Store, and Ulta are just a few examples. This allows Target to focus on what they do best—curating the best products and giving excellent service. The partner brands are strong on their own but perhaps even stronger in partnership.

Consider what other brands are out there that you can partner with that could make your brand even stronger. Partnerships will extend your reach because you're promoting your partner, and they are also promoting you. So you're each borrowing each other's audience.

3. Stand for something (or somethings).

Target spent a good portion of the past few years promoting black-owned brands they carry. They are demonstrating their commitment to supplier diversity. But it doesn't end there. They have a long list of published values that include a good shopping experience, sustainability, supporting their team members, and delivering on their brand promise of "Buy more. Pay less."

It's not enough to sell products or services anymore. You have to stand for something. People rally behind their values and beliefs. So when you have shared values and beliefs with a brand, it makes choosing them a no-brainer.

4. Deliver a memorable brand experience. Every. Day.

There's a reason there are so many Target memes about buying more than you went in for. They're true. Whether online or in-store, Target makes the shopping experience fun. They hook you right away with Bullseye's Playground when you walk in with inexpensive, trendy items. And they keep you walking the whole store with cute fashion brands and soft bedding to holiday merchandise and delicious snacks.

One of the biggest testaments to the Target brand is the number of fan Instagram accounts. A few of my faves are @targetovereverything, @targetholler, and @targetbullseyespot. I've literally gone to Target searching for something I saw on these accounts. Can you imagine people starting social media accounts about your brand simply because they love it?

Arguably, making a brand go this viral is challenging and maybe even unrealistic.

But delivering on a great experience with every interaction isn't. Critically think through every communication in your customer journey and make sure it's compelling and conveys your brand personality.


Sometimes it's worth looking at what successful big brands do to pull out the things that make them memorable and build them into your strategies.


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