Assessing Your Target Audience

In a previous post, I introduced the 4-W model of branding. As a refresher, it begins with determining WHO you want to have a discussion with. Then determining WHAT you want to say, WHEN your target is most ready to hear your message and finally determining WHERE your target is likely to hear it.

In the WHO step, you define your strategic target and prime prospects groups. But, how do you know if your WHO definition is good enough?

FOUR CRITERIA TO EVALUATE

Sufficiency – Does your prime prospect targets represent sufficient potential to realistically achieve your business goals. Take the time and do the math.

Benefit Relevancy – Does your brand promise address a meaningful need or want that is considered a driving reason to select one option over another? Ideally you can answer this question with reliable market research data.

Believability – Is there a compelling reason for the WHO target to believe that your option can actually deliver the brand promise you are making? Put yourself in their shoes and state your promise using their language.

Actionability – Does the WHO target definition help you make choices about your promotional investment? For example, does it help you better understand the investment decision process? Does it help you determine a tactical plan to win each of the three moments of truth (1. opportunity to compete, 2. the competition and 3. the reinvestment)? If you practically can’t find your WHO target, then no matter how elegant your criteria.  You have an impractical definition.

DISCUSSION

In my experience, I find there continues to be a debate over the use of demographic segmentation versus psychographic segmentation to define your WHO target(s). However, I think the debate is less than helpful.

I take a practical approach to the question. In my mind, the driving principle is your WHO target definition should help you make better informed promotional investment choices. As a consequence I favor the use of demographic data as the primary way of describing the WHO target. I have found demographic data to be the easiest to use in evaluating different promotional investment options. For example most magazine/journals will have a BPA (Business Publication Circulation Statement) available to help you better determine if your WHO target subscribes. Another example is email or snail mail lists. Their suppliers will typically allow you to purchase subsets based on demographic criteria so you don’t waste money communicating with people outside your WHO target. I have found that most media options will have demographic data available for you to use in creating a focused media plan. On the flip side, few will have psychographic data available for you to use.

I use psychographic data collected from my WHO target audience to better understand how they think and feel. This emotional look at the WHO target is great for informing how you best communicate your brand promise in a way that is both mind and heart opening.

I fully expect some debate on this point. But, I have found this approach has served me well throughout my career.

I also want to emphasize the importance of really understanding the connection between your WHO target and your brand promise. The more confident you can be that you are promising something people in your WHO target want and in a way they can relate with, then the creative process (WHAT step) becomes so much easier.

And lastly, it is possible to be so precise in your WHO target definition that there is no way you can realistically achieve your business goals. While we try hard to ensure we communicate with the most motivated potential investors, we should not lose sight of the arithmetic of our business plan. It makes a huge difference in the probability of success if you must achieve an 80% conversion rate versus a 10% rate to hit your goal. Don’t segment so tightly that you make goal achievement highly improbable. Unfortunately, I do not have a hard and fast rule for you to follow. The assessment of sufficiency is a judgmental one. But, if you or anybody else before have never achieved your required conversion rate, then you need to have a really strong argument for why you will be the first. Short of having the cure for cancer, I’d be highly skeptical.

YOUR THOUGHTS?

What has your experience been in using segmentation to define your WHO target? And helpful tips you can pass along?

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  1. […] Then determining WHAT you want to say, WHEN your target is most ready to hear your message and finally determining WHERE your target is likely to hear it. In the WHO step, you define your strategic target and prime prospects groups.  […]

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