Fractal. It’s a word that makes me cringe. Along with coplanar, interval, and cotangent, the word fractal represents a complex mathematical realm. But when put in the context of marketing, fractal takes on a whole new meaning.
At the recent MAGNET creative conference in Chicago, speaker Andrew Davis challenged us with a series of “what if” questions. One of them: What if, instead of trying to talk to everyone, you targeted a niche? What would happen if you took a fractal approach to problem solving?
A fractal, very generally speaking, is “a fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is a reduced-size copy of the whole.” So, how does this apply to marketing? Think of a brand’s audience as a fractal. That larger audience can be split into parts. By targeting those specific audiences, rather than trying to talk to the homogenized whole, you’re able to deliver better, more relevant, more valuable content. It’s a concept that I know in theory to be true, but in practice it’s hard to make the case for aiming smaller rather than bigger.
Well, Andrew gave an example of how fractal marketing can really pay off. Tractor Supply Co. has a complex web of audiences. At the root, they’re all farmers. For this tactic, Tractor Supply targeted a very specific group of farmers: hobbyist, suburban, backyard poultry farmers. It’s a small part of the farmer fractal. But it’s because this audience is small that Tractor Supply was able to be so direct, specific, and ultimately successful.
To talk to this audience, Tractor Supply Co. partnered with a guy named Andy Schneider, who goes by the Chicken Whisperer. He’s an independent, well-known, backyard poultry expert, with his own book, radio show, and blog. As part of this collaboration, the Chicken Whisperer produced a variety of content for Tractor Supply, and did a tour of their stores, where he gave an introductory talk about getting started in chicken farming. The events were well attended, and at each event, Tractor Supply sold an average of 100 new chicks, along with annual feed. Multiply the revenue from that by all the stores the tour visited…that’s a big increase in sales. And a huge boost in credibility for Tractor Supply.
By underwriting the Chicken Whisperer, Tractor Supply was able to fully embrace and speak to a very specific fractal node in an authentic, credible voice. They didn’t try to be everything to all kinds of farmers; just suburban, backyard chicken farmers. That’s the power of great content.
What if you stopped trying to be everything to everyone? Who’s your backyard farmer? Who’s your chicken whisperer?