Why You May Be Marketing to the Wrong Audience…and How to Find the Right One

Fact 1: Identifying the right target audience is a major part of successful marketing.

Fact 2: Many brands are targeting a broad (and usually, an already highly sought-after)   mass audience.

Fact 3: That’s not the right target audience.

pinterestWhen branding a new product or service, it’s easy to pick a target audience like “Millennials,” “young moms,” or “senior citizens,” because they’re huge groups, which means you should get more positive responses, right? Wrong.

Here’s the deal. Those broad, highly sought-after audiences don’t consist of completely identical people. They’re made up of people whose opinions and priorities vary enough to set them apart from others. But some of them will have opinions and priorities in common, making them a subgroup of your audience. And some of their opinions and priorities will overlap with those of people who aren’t even in your broad target audience.

Why does this matter? Because when you market to one big, broad audience, you’re actually marketing to tons of smaller ones, all with their own idiosyncrasies and values. Some will care about what you’re selling. Some won’t. It would be extremely rare for every young mom everywhere to simultaneously become avid fans of your new baby food.

So what if you started smaller? Picked a specific niche of people that’s already more inclined to listen to what you’re offering? To find them, you need to discover and market to their worldview.

In his book All Marketers Are Liars (don’t worry; it’s not what it sounds like)Seth Godin defines a worldview as “the lens used to look at every decision a person is asked to make.” People can have multiple worldviews, and you don’t need to meet all of them. Your job is to find the people who have at least one worldview that will make them more apt to buy what you’re selling.

Worldviews come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Consider these examples:

  • Shawna believes in global warming, recycles everything she can, and protests pollution in the city.
  • Dillon lives paycheck to paycheck and firmly believes that the cheapest option is the best option.
  • Callie refuses to use chemicals in her home cleaners and personal hygiene products. She’s afraid they could hurt her young children.

Each of these people has a distinct worldview that makes them either more inclined or more averse to buying your product. You might assume that all Millennial guys want a top-of-the-line stereo system, but if you market to Dillon, you’d be wasting your time. And don’t bother trying to convince Shawna to use anything that isn’t energy-efficient, even if it does work faster. As for Callie, she may be a mom, but she certainly won’t be buying Febreeze. However, if you’re selling an all-natural, fast-acting air freshener substitute, she’ll probably be interested.

These people’s minds are predetermined about your product or service. Rather than trying to change their minds, your time will be better used catering to those who already agree with the purpose and capability of your product.

quote-pinterestWhy does marketing to a worldview work? Because, as Seth says, “People don’t want to change their worldview. They like it, they embrace it and they want it to be reinforced.”

That last part is where you come in. You reinforce their worldview – “We need to take care of our planet and stop draining its resources” – and show how your product or service aligns with it – “We plant a new tree for every table/desk/pack of light bulbs you buy….”

Notice your product doesn’t even have to be one that specifically appeals to their worldview. It could be an everyday item they will have to buy anyway, but because you’re framing your product within their worldview, they’re now more likely to buy it from you.

As you cater to a specific group, they’ll hopefully fall in love with either your story, mission, or product and become raving fans, repeat customers, and dedicated referrers for your brand. That’s when your brand can begin to gain traction and spread to broader audiences.

To close, remember Seth’s advice:

“Every consumer has a worldview that affects the product you want to sell. That worldview alters the way they interpret everything you say and do. Frame your story in terms of that worldview, and it will be heard.”

If you’re interested in the three quotes I pulled from Seth Godin’s book, you can find the book here. It’s definitely a worthwhile read!


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