The general public, you say?

In the last blog post, I talked about "audience" as being one of the critical factors in figuring out your business/organizational strategy. Understanding your audience is so important that it's worth spending time on the difference between primary and secondary (or tertiary, etc.) audiences.

 To begin, can we agree to get rid of the term "general public?" It's a lazy short form that we often use when we think we want market to everyone, hoping that it will resonate with someone.

The problem with this approach is that when we think of the general public, we're really thinking about a faceless blur of people. What we're really saying is that we don't know our produce or service well enough to know who can benefit from it. We're really saying that we haven't done our homework.

Let's consider an example, pretending for a moment that we run a daycare service and have space for a few more children. (A silly example. Who's ever heard of a partially filled daycare? But play along. It'll be worth it.)

For this exercise, I'm going to make a bunch of assumptions about childcare services. They are used only as illustration.
First, we must identify the primary audience from the "general public."

A primary audience is the most important audience to your business.  This is the group(s) without which you can't succeed. There will be other audiences for you to market to, but they are less critical.

So, who is the critical audience?

Presumably, we want to target parents. But - yikes!- parents are everywhere! With our tiny marketing budget, how are we going to reach every single parent?

The answer is, we aren't.

We are going to look at factors that will narrow our audience to the key group or groups that are both crucial and manageable for the resources we have.

Let's pretend that you specialize in childcare for pre-school aged children and you do not have subsidized spaces. This immediately eliminates parents of school-aged children and anyone looking for a subsidized spot.

We'd want to look at vicinity. Parents are most likely to want daycare service close to home. Let's say that a reasonable area is within three kilometres of the daycare.

Women still make most of the decisions about childcare so we want to target women. Do men also make decisions about childcare? Of course. But in fewer numbers so reaching them becomes less critical to your business.

We want to focus on mothers who are seeking daycare rather than those who are dissatisfied with the service they currently have because the latter group are harder to find and there are likely to be fewer of them. So, we're looking for mothers who are either new to the neighbourhood or are returning to work.

With those few thoughts, we've gone from trying to reach every parent to mothers who live within three kilometres of our daycare, who have pre-school-aged children, who are actively seeking childcare (are new to the neighbourhood or are returning to work). We can't include moms who are looking for subsidized spaces so are probably looking at average to above-average income levels.

Bravo! We've identified who our customer is! Next, we will figure out where we can reach her as well as what kind of messages and visuals might appeal to her.

Does this mean that you will never target dads? No. It means that you will target them if you have budget and time to do so. Your first focus will be on the woman we've described.

In the next blog post, we'll talk about our customer and where and how we reach her.

I'd love to hear about your challenges and successes with identifying your key/dream customer. Please share in the comment section.



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