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A shotgun approach, in the context of marketing, is a strategy where a promotional campaign for products or services targets as large of an area or population as possible. Some typical strategies under the shotgun approach include paying for advertisements on popular televised events, buying ad space across multiple websites and sending out mass mailings and emails.
The shotgun approach comes out of the philosophy that more is better. Advertisers seek to gain the attention of the largest possible crowd in hopes that the number of eventual purchasers will be equally large. The shotgun approach was used most effectively with credit cards. Companies would mail offers out to every home or apartment within an area code - a practice known as carpet bombing.
While the Internet hasn't eliminated the shotgun approach - in fact, many companies use the Internet to reach wider audiences - it has offered an alternative. More companies are now opting for the "rifle approach," where specific groups of consumers are targeted through their social networks and online browsing habits.