The Biggest Audience Isn’t Always the Best

I was recently sitting in a packed conference hall where the keynote speaker started his remarks by saying, “It’s always intimidating to come between this many people and lunch… but I think there’s one or two things in here for everyone. Who knows, maybe this will really resonate with a handful of you.”

I almost walked out right then. I didn’t have the patience, or the blood sugar level, to listen to some guy who probably wouldn’t share anything relevant to me.

Unfortunately, a lot of brands think the same way as this speaker. They cast the widest net possible and end up alienating the intended audience.

Brands have learned that appealing to the largest population possible, with the most universally sound message, means more impressions for less money. The problem with that is they’ve forgotten how to talk with the people who matter to them most. It’s not about counting impressions; it’s about making one.

I call this catering to the lowest customer denominator. Here are four ways to make sure your brand is talking not just to any audience, but to the right one.

1. Be a human

Back in the day, shoppers had a relationship with merchants. The merchant understood the customer’s interests, concerns, and needs—often better than the customers themselves. They chatted about local happenings. They shared products that would benefit the customer.

Customers, in turn, were loyal, not for a lack of options, but because they valued the relationship with the person selling to them. Today’s brands need to think about their customers the same way.

2. Stand for something

When I did a quick poll around the office about brands that care about customer issues, my colleagues threw out names like Chipotle, Dove, and Toms. Each makes an effort to stand for more than just business results: sustainable fast food, realistic beauty standards, even something as big as helping the developing world.

A recent fan favorite is P&G. With its “Like a Girl” campaign, it’s established a new hashtag, taken home a Glass Lion from Cannes, snagged an Emmy nomination, and established a whole new way of thinking about girls and sports.

3. Share what matters

With marketers so focused on capturing and broadcasting customer data, we’ve forgotten a major part of relating to customers: sharing. I don’t just mean counting social actions, but truly sharing something of your own.

Sharing is difficult because it means taking a stance. And that can run contrary to our instincts as marketers because it may mean appealing to fewer people. But it’s a sacrifice worth making.

4. Engage with the right customer sooner

Engaging with the right customers from the start will make you a more efficient marketer. You’ll spend less. You’ll capture cleaner customer information, which will allow you to retain long-term relationships with those customers. And those customers will voluntarily refer likeminded prospects your way.

Take, for example, the publication you’re reading now. The Content Strategist reaches a fairly niche audience of marketers and publishers who care about content. But each article that goes live is shared among our clients and prospects, and each person who reads it tends to sign up for our email newsletters or give us a shout out on social media.

These tips are important to every brand, but especially relevant to brands that spend a lot on acquiring and/or maintaining customers. A brand’s job today is very much what it was many years ago: Identify the things that matter about itself, and share those things in a meaningful way with the people who matter most.

Image by Ellegant/Shutterstock

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