iStock_000023616857SmallI have a friend who works in marketing and likes to talk about “spillage.”

That is, no matter how narrowly you try to target your marketing efforts—no matter how precise you are in your scope—you’re ultimately going to spend money reaching out to people with no interest in your business. At least some of the marketing you invest in is going to fall on deaf ears. It’s spillage. It’s waste.

And the bad news is, I’m not sure that there’s anything that can be done to prevent it. Yet just by being aware of it, maybe you can minimize it, and keep that spillage to a minimum.

Start with the simple understanding that everyone is not your audience. So if you’re paying for a Super Bowl ad, well, you’re going to get a lot of eyeballs on your brand. And that’s meaningful. But you’re going to be spending a lot of money to do it—and a lot of the eyeballs you’re paying for will belong to people who are not in your demographic in any way, shape, or form.

So the important task is to narrow things down. You probably don’t need a Super Bowl audience—so what are some ways to refine your focus? What are some more narrow avenues through which you can reach your target audience? We live in a golden age of targeting, so there are probably some ways you can narrow things down from Super Bowl-scope.

And once you find those avenues of effective targeting—the areas where spillage is pretty minimal—you can double down. I recently discovered that I could get great results marketing my premium steak company in catalogs distributed to Ontario liquor stores; now, I’m pushing it further by investing in full catalog inserts and even expanding my marketing reach into Montreal a bit.

And yeah, I’m probably still getting some spillage—but I’m also getting pretty good bang for my marketing buck. I’m not trying to talk to everyone. I’m just talking to my audience.