You and Your Target Market


On the right is Mary Beth O’Neil. Lives outside of Indianapolis. Single mom. Two kids. Works at a real estate office. Drives a Ford Explorer. Likes Celine Dion.

On the left is you. Fixed-gear bikes, skinny jeans, PBR. You live in the city, take the subway to work. Really into the Arctic Monkeys right now. Working on a coffee table book of photos of broken coffee tables. So hip that your portrait is spray paint.

Okay, so maybe I’m stereotyping a little. You don’t like PBR. My point is, this is you and your target. For most of the projects you work on in your career, you will not be your target audience. Not even close. Remember that. You should like your ads, but it’s more important that your ads connect with her than amuse you. This sounds straightforward, yet time and again, I see work in student books, or have creatives pitch ideas that are obviously meant to entertain people like themselves.

Before I get too far, let me stop and be clear. I am not:
1) Disrespecting Mary Beth in any way. And when you’re thinking about your target, neither should you.
2) Saying that you should do lame advertising, or ads that you think suck.

What I am saying is that Mary Beth probably won’t get the irony of obscure German house music over visuals of robots in the style of old Japanese monster movies in her Tuna Helper commercial. Honestly, these are the kinds of decisions I see sometimes. Usually executional things. Weird for the sake of being weird. The kind of stuff that drives clients nuts.


Just consider your audience, is all I’m saying. If you get the chance, go to focus groups and listen to them talk about their lives for a few hours. Then come up with something great that connects with them.

6 thoughts on “You and Your Target Market

  1. Indeed, Anonymous. That's why I added that caveat mid-way through. I realize in this post that I risk sounding like I'm saying “Do what's expected,” or “Do what's comfortable.”

    I'm not.

    I'm saying that you need to be thinking of your audience, not yourself.

    Like

  2. Amen! I see this this lack of attention to audience all to often in student work. And the unfortunate thing is too many ad-school instructors are unwilling to challenge these misfires for fear of throwing water on creativity.

    News flash: It's easy to be wildly creative when there's no concern with connecting message with audience. What's tough — and what's demanded in real world — is being creative in the service of connecting product and brand to audience.

    Take risks, lots of risks. But make them count.

    Like

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