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Marketing Challenges When Targeting Aspirational Prospects

Updated on September 27, 2015
heidithorne profile image

Heidi Thorne is an author and business speaker specializing in sales and marketing topics for coaches, consultants, and solopreneurs.


Ant who wants to move a rubber tree plant? Definitely an aspirational ant in this Sinatra classic!

Aspirational Ants

You've got a product or service that would be purchased as one moves toward achieving some significant personal or business goal. Just one big problem: Up until this watershed moment that they move toward this goal, they may not exhibit any behaviors that demonstrate their interest. Their intentions are all in their heads.

While this could be said of almost any product or service, there are some situations where this is more likely to occur and drive sales and marketing people crazy:

  • Employees who think they can do their employer's job cheaper, better or faster by going into business for themselves someday.
  • Couples who are thinking about getting married, divorced or having a child.
  • Those who are thinking about going back to college to train for a completely different career path.
  • Homeowners who are thinking about moving and selling their homes.
  • A budding entrepreneur who's developing a great new product in his garage.
  • An adult caregiver who wants to find a safe and comfortable home for an aging or ill parent, spouse or loved one.

These are all common scenarios in the general population. Yet note how all these aspirational thoughts and actions are typically occurring in private. Also note that each will need to invest in various products and services—often lots of them!—to accomplish their goals.

Sadly, for marketers, these people will rarely show up on any demographic radar because they may only discuss their dreams with a handful of friends and family if they discuss it publicly at all.

Aspirational prospects are like ants. They're everywhere. But if forced to go an find one ant, it could be quite a task!

Aspirational prospects are like ants. They're everywhere. But if forced to go an find one ant, it could be quite a task!

— Heidi Thorne

One-Hit Wonders

Compounding the marketing challenges with this crowd is that the products and services to serve them are often "one-hit wonder" purchases, in other words, they're purchased once (or only a few times) in a lifetime. An example would be wedding dresses.

So the marketing trick is being able to be at the right place at that magical moment when they flip from aspirers to buyers.

Internet Advertising and SEO Keywords to the Rescue!

Luckily for today's marketers, it's getting easier to reach these previously unreachable folks. Why? Because aspirational prospects such as brides-to-be, parents-to-be, wannabe business owners, troubled couples, adult caregivers and the college bound will likely turn to their best "friend" to get answers to their private questions and concerns: The Internet.

Internet advertising fueled by targeting highly relevant SEO keywords can be effective. Plus, with remarketing, those who search for specific terms and keywords can be targeted to receive multiple views of ads that relate to their search. But key to these efforts is selecting the right SEO keywords. Tools such as Google AdWords Keyword Planner can help home in on those keywords and phrases that could be good candidates.

In addition to advertising, business' websites need to include these target SEO keywords in their content and meta tags to get indexed by Google and other search engines for organic search purposes. This can be a very effective and cost-effective marketing effort to lure elusive aspirational prospects.

Get Your Marketing Story Straight

Regardless of whether marketing to aspirational types is done online or offline, ALL marketing efforts must have a consistent message that speaks to emotional needs. Each of the example scenarios are significant life decisions with strong emotional motivators. Psychographic analysis of target prospect pools can be helpful in developing a marketing "story" that appeals to these people's internal dialogue and desires.

Disclaimer: Any examples used are for illustrative purposes only and do not suggest affiliation or endorsement. The author/publisher has used best efforts in preparation of this article. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and all parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice, strategies and recommendations presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional adviser where and when appropriate. The author/publisher shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. So by reading and using this information, you accept this risk.

© 2015 Heidi Thorne


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    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Grand Old Lady! Glad you found the info helpful. Thank you so much for stopping by and have a terrific day!

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      Very helpful article:). I've been trying to get as much info on social media marketing as possible, and this piece helps a lot.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi FlourishAnyway! Agreed, I think many of us (especially many here on HP) can fit into this "aspirational" category. It really is a market segment and aspect that can be ignored by marketers. Have a beautiful week ahead!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Happy Monday, billybuc! Though the term isn't used often, it is very appropriate for many, many markets. Have a terrific week! (Now I gotta catch up on my "Mailbag" reading.)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've never heard that term either, Heidi. As always, I learned something new here. Thank you and Happy Monday to you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      What a great description and the examples really make sense. We can all relate! How many of us are aspirational novelists? Or aspirational solopreneurs? Or retirees at 55?

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi purl3agony! I'd like to think I coined the term, but, alas, I haven't. :) But it is a distinct type of person/behavior that can make marketers go nutty (I speak from experience). Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by! Have a beautiful week ahead!

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

      Hi Heidi! I'd never heard the term "aspirational prospects" before, but you've done a great job of explaining this segment of the marketplace, why they're important, and how to reach these potential buyers. Thanks for another great hub!