Not everyone is your audience – and that’s OK!

It never fails. At least once a year (maybe more) during a new client kickoff, we ask the question “who is your audience?” Then we receive an enthusiastic reply of “Everyone! Everyone can use/buy/benefit from my product or service!”

Ugh. Now it’s time for me to burst your bubble and explain why not everyone is your audience. Let’s take a couple of examples:

  1. Could everyone eat at Hardee’s? Well, sure they could. But do they? No. And Hardee’s knows that, and knows that their primary audience is young-ish men who like to eat big burgers and watch ads with half naked women rolling around on the hood of a car.
  2. Can every woman wear make-up? Absolutely. But there are specific audiences for each line. The Wet & Wild crowd is totally different from the Lancome crowd, and everything about their marketing speaks to that.

In each of the cases above, you have clearly defined targets which help guide the strategy, messaging, and customer experience. That’s what we’re looking for, and planning towards, when we create strategy.

So, when I told a new client a few weeks ago that I wasn’t his audience and would never buy his product because it just doesn’t fit my lifestyle, he was shocked. He kept trying to sell me on why I should buy it, because “everyone can benefit from this!” Someone else on my team chimed in and said “I would never buy it either.” Wow! Does that mean the idea is bad, or that the product will be a flop? Not all all. We reassured the client that there is an audience that will respond well – it just wasn’t two of the five people sitting at the table, and that’s OK! We just needed to dig though his customer base to find commonalities, identify pains and triggers, and perform research to make sure we had the right fit.

It took him a while to realize that it was OK that my colleague and I would never buy what he had to offer. It became OK for him to define a clear niche and speak confidently to that audience. And finally, he realized that it was OK to not be all things to all people. When you try to appeal to everyone, you end up appealing to no one. When you try to speak to all people and convince all people to buy, you’ve wasted a lot of time, energy and money.  Find your audience, answer their “why do I care”, and craft your strategy accordingly.