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“Is this thing on?” (Or, a lesson in figuring out your ideal audience)

Filed in Tips, Tricks, and Things to Know — August 23, 2023

When I was a little girl, I participated in a school play. My role was that of Ponce DeLeon’s mother confronting him on his return from searching for the fountain of youth (don’t ask). In this role, I had to sing and act. To this day, I can remember one of the verses in my duet:

Oh, where have you been, DeLeon, DeLeon?

Oh, where have you been Ponce DeLeon?

(I’ve been to Florida,

It’s a really great place, Ma.)

But the fountain, son, did you find the fountain?

Not surprisingly, the audience applauded when my scene finished. It wasn’t because I was the next great American teen musical star, but because the audience was full of middle school parents who were there to see a middle school musical. Had I taken my act to Broadway, it would have been a whole different story, believe me.

Why am I telling you this story? It illustrates the importance of knowing your target audience and then building communications directed toward them – something that isn’t necessarily as intuitive as it sounds. Middle school parents appreciated a middle school musical because it was directed specifically toward them – it hit exactly the right note. (See what I did there?) Broadway would have sent me packing after the first note of my audition.  There was no one who was going to pay to hear me sing.

So, how do you go about determining the right audience for your marketing? Who is your ideal customer?

First, I want you to stop thinking that it’s “everyone.” While, yes, everyone in the world could be a potential customer, it’s unlikely that everyone will be a potential customer. It’s even more unlikely that anyone (save for Jeff Bezos) has enough money to build marketing plans to appeal to everyone of every demographic from everywhere in the world.

If your audience isn’t “everyone,” then who is it?

Imagine you own a small, independent pizza shop in a college town. You have a handful of dine-in tables, but most of your business is takeout. You do really well during the school year but lose 30% of your business during the summer when school is out. Your current goal is to build a marketing campaign that brings in more traffic to the shop June through September. In order for you to stretch your marketing dollars effectively, you need to target your campaign. So, who is your target audience?

You can start to figure this out by going through a process of narrowing down demographics and behavior:

  • Unless you’re trying to hype a small selection of salads you have on your menu, you’re looking for people who like pizza.
  • You’re a casual dining spot, so you’re not going to market your experience to someone looking for a fine dining establishment.
  • Pizza is a grab-and-go type of meal, so you’re looking for people who have busy schedules and are seeking convenient meals.
  • Since your goal is to appeal to the permanent residents in your community, you’re not going to direct your marketing specifically to college students – rather, you’ll focus on an older demographic.
  • Your restaurant’s appeal is the homemade, crafted nature of the food (as opposed to the prefab, chain store product), so your ideal customer is seeking something other than one of the big-name, chain store pizzas.

See how your audience has moved from “everyone” to a smaller, more manageable demographic? You’re targeting pizza lovers above the age of 22 who have disposable income, busy schedules, and are looking for a quality, hand-crafted product that doesn’t come from a restaurant chain.

Now, the exercise outlined above is a bit simplified and is probably causing my marketing peers to clutch their pearls, but it’s meant to illustrate that you have a lot more information about your primary audience (or ideal customer) than you think. Once you have a better idea about your primary audience, you can build marketing targeted toward them based on some of their habits and behaviors.

But before you panic that your advertising is going to be overly limited, primary audience doesn’t mean only audience. All marketing efforts have the opportunity of impacting far more than the initial intended audience, and your marketing agency should be taking all of those other people into account when they build your campaigns.

A targeted marketing campaign is one of your best tools for growing your business and your following, so – if you haven’t already done so – start thinking about your intended audience.

As for Ponce de Leon? A huge thank you to Ms. Sara for letting me star in my one and only stage performance.

The audience loved it.

(If you have questions about how to build more effective marketing campaigns or want help creating content for your followers, drop me a note. I’d love to talk!)