I am sometimes amazed by the contents of my email inbox, particularly tailor-made messages and offers designed just for me.
Of course, as a marketer and entrepreneur in this digital age, I shouldn’t really be that surprised. I get it. Opt-in lists, segmentation, targeted offers from online shopping venues I frequent, and more allows email marketers to hone in on a particular audience segment or niche.
This got me to thinking about how far we’ve come from the days of direct mail postcards and print advertising targeted at broad demographic categories.
I wrote a blog almost two years ago on the possible need to redefine how we think about our target audiences, and how we reach out to them in particular in the digital/social media age. Here’s that blog again. Enjoy!
Is it Time to Redefine the Idea of “Target Audience?”
(Originally posted on June 19, 2013)
Marketing 101 teaches us to define our ideal client or customer (our “target audience”) and to gear our communications and marketing efforts toward that broad group. Not to the exclusion of others, of course, but the idea is that if we communicate what we need to the people we most want to be our customers/clients, then our pipeline will fill and business/life will be good.
For example, if your ideal customers were females, married, age 25 to 49, then you would gear everything you said and did about your company to that demographic. Similarly, if you were targeting males, 50 to 64, then your message would be skewed toward them. Simple stuff—a tried and true recipe.
But what if you could go a step (or two) further and target highly-customized messages to multiple, specific audiences within your target group, as easily (if not more easily) than you once could target a single message to the broader demographic? Wouldn’t your marketing efforts be even more successful?
The explosion of social media in the last five years—with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the likes of Tumblr, Yelp, Foursquare, and others, each blossoming with activity—has made it possible to tailor specific product/service offerings and messages to specific niche groups, something you could not have done in a reasonable amount of time or at a reasonable cost in the not-so-distant past.
Let’s say you run a deli or a restaurant and your ideal clients range from young professionals to families, depending on time of day and time of week. Twenty years ago, you might have reached out to this diverse group through advertising in a local business magazine, the daily newspaper, or even a radio station or two. Most likely, because your message and offer would need to be honed days, if not weeks, in advance, and would need to appeal to a relatively broad target audience, the message/offer would be somewhat “evergreen” and somewhat generic so that it could live a long shelf-life with maximum appeal.
Now fast forward and compare that approach to present day when you could decide right now to offer a “happy hour special” to young professionals, post the offer through your favorite social media channels (those you know are frequented by young professionals), and within minutes be reasonably sure that hundreds if not thousands of people in this specific target audience could see the offer and respond. Then, at the SAME TIME, you might make a special “weekend brunch” offer aimed at families, again reaching out to them through a social media channel where you know they tend to gather. And, quite literally, these kinds of offers could be made real-time, every day. Think of the reach, think of the results.
This kind of approach applies if you are in a service-related field, too. A consultant might make an offer targeted to one group, through one set of social media channels, and then a slightly different offer to a different niche via some alternate platform. Or maybe you have a podcast coming up, or a Webinar. Why not create two, each customized to a specific niche within your broader target audience, knowing that you can easily and economically reach out to each audience segment with a fine-tuned message and offer almost as easily as you could with just one—and most likely with better results.
We hear a lot about designer “genes” in the news these days (and I’m not talking about Levi’s or Wranglers here), where medicines and therapies can be tailored to a specific individual based on his or her DNA. We’re not quite there with marketing and social media, but the day will come when it becomes ever more efficient to offer highly customized products and services tailor-made to a VERY specific audience or audience segment, possibly right down to the individual level.
Just think of the possibilities: you’ll be reclining on the beach, about to whoop your best friend with a triple-word score of 63 points in Word with Friends, when you get a push notification on your smartphone letting you know that happy hour is about to start at a nearby beach lounge, with Mojitos two-for-one. How sweet is that if you’re the consumer (and even sweeter if you’re the lounge owner)?
How has your notion of reaching out to a broad, target demographic changed in recent years? Has it changed? Should it? Why or why not?
Share your thoughts here.