Appealing to everyone doesn’t work. Here’s how to define your target audience and refocus your message.
Last week I rebranded a 30-year-old retail chain. They had a great reputation and a loyal following, but sales had been decreasing steadily over the past few years. After surveying several hundred customers, we discovered that the majority of their shoppers were aging out of the active buying stage of their lives. They had enough stuff. We needed to switch gears and change the primary target to 50-somethings moving toward second-home ownership or relocating to experience a different lifestyle.
With a new look for the brand, an inspiring mission, and relevant tagline, they are on their way to appealing to this new audience. The staff is energized and the buyers have a “brand filter” to help them make purchasing decisions that will appeal to those entering the second half of their lives. Changing the focus to a new customer, while being sensitive not to alienate current shoppers, is the task at hand.
No matter what your brand’s mission, your financial goal, or your personal dreams, identifying and earning the devotion of your target audience is the interlocking and necessary means to reaching those objectives. Who is your target audience? It’s your boss, co-workers, clients, customers—anyone who can influence your brand. Before you try to appeal to your target audience, do a 180-degree turn and stand in their shoes. To gain their loyalty, you have to know them not just from a demographic perspective (age, sex, income, education), but from a psychographic perspective (attitudes, values, behaviors), as well.
Once you’ve established your target audience, you can’t just forget about them. You have to always be looking at your brand and at your audience and asking, “Is this working?” “Have I lost any customers lately?” “Does the client always seem happy to see me or hear from me?” “Have I been passed over for a promotion or a plum project recently?” “Has my staff been cut?” The question is not only “Who is my target audience,” but “What do I want them to think or feel about me?”
So before you introduce yourself at a networking event, pitch your idea, go for a job interview, give a speech, or launch a new advertising campaign to the public, ask yourself what you’d like your target audience to think about you. Imagine you’re someone in your target audience and then write down the end game from their perspective. For example, after you make a big presentation you might like the head honcho to think: “Impressive. She really put a lot of work into that report. It’s clear she has a talent for synthesizing a lot of input and making smart recommendations. And I never realized how confident, articulate, and captivating she is in front of an audience. I could sure use someone like that in my department. Maybe I could tempt her with a better salary than what she’s getting now.”
You're telling the universe what you want—committing your intentions and your dreams to paper. Making them more solid, something you can see. Taking those giant steps closer to reality. In doing so, you draw your target audience in and keep them coming back for more.