Are You Remembering Your Target Audience?

When you come up with a communications plan or a cool new initiative, do you think about your target audience or do you focus on the bright shiny ideas?

Every morning when I get up I switch on CBC News Morning. Every morning for the last few months, without fail, I’m confronted by this ad from Grey Power  in the commercial breaks:

I won’t lie to you – I’d rather pull my teeth out than watch this commercial one more time. However, it’s quite possible that part of the reason for that is because I’m not the target.

It’s all a question of targeting

The commercial above isn’t aimed at me – it plays on a stereotype of young people that, quite frankly, annoys the hell out of me. However, that same stereotype may appeal to the people it targets – the 50+ age demographic (and people who like bad commercials… but I digress…).

Meanwhile, I think this riff on the old Budweiser "wassup" ads is great, but my parents would likely change the channel – they’re not the target audience:

Think: personas

Next time you’re in a brainstorming session or sitting down to write a communications plan, ask yourself:

  • Who are we targeting?
  • How old are they?
  • How educated are they?
  • How connected are they?
  • How much do they earn?
  • What do they care about?
  • Where’s the best place to reach them?
  • Why should they care about you and what you’re doing?

Think about these questions; develop personas for your target audience. Get inside their heads. Give them a name. Develop communications that reflect their wants and needs.

Once you’ve done that, you might be able to target your communications effectively.

Think differently

Since starting my career in public relations I’ve trained myself to stop and think every time I see advertising that I don’t like:

"Am I the target? Who is the target? What might they think of this?"

It’s surprising how often that leads me to view the advertising completely differently.

What do you think?

  • I think that communicators also need to consider which medium they are using to reach their target audience – while a TV commercial might be great for TV, considering doing something different for the online space. Just because it is video doesn’t mean it should be the same.
    TV spots and radio spots are often quite different, even though the information being presented by a narrator might be the same.

  • Dave – I completely agree. I’ve often heard from friends:

    “Man, that commercial was stupid. I could do so much better than that. I should’ve picked a career in advertising”.

    To which I reply:

    “Yes, I didn’t like that commercial much either. But that was an ad for feminine products, right? Yeah, so they probably didn’t make that commercial for us”.

    It’s such simple step to take – and I’d be shocked if any ad agency ever did an ad without creating a persona. But it’s also very hard to get it right – as the whole Motrin mess taught us (I’m assuming they did their homework, and just did it poorly).