Let’s pretend for a moment that you’re writing a movie. Where would you start?
In the old days before the film industry became just that, an industry, maybe you could get away with writing a great script and creating a movie. Though there are exceptions, for the most part, that’s all changed.
The role of audience analysis
That changed when studios began to develop films for different types of customers. In marketing terms, they began to segment the market. Different products for different customers. Makes sense, doesn’t it.
The problem was, and continues to be, that customers taste changes. What they liked in the 50s, 70s, or 90s may not sell today. To mitigate against losses, film studios work hard to determine:
- Subject matter
Let’s look at each of these.
Demographics tell you hard facts about your readers, for example, their age, location, education, and marriage status. Most of these things don’t change, though some flexibility needs to be allows, for example, people move house and jobs. But essentially, you’re trying to gather enough information so you can see, for example, if you should be developing a product for college-educated, Europeans twenty-somethings, or PHD level Japanese retired business men.
Because this will affect, among other things, how you price, position, and sell related products.
Here are some criteria to consider:
- One v Many – are your potential customers homogeneous (made up of the same kind of people or things) or heterogeneous?
- If homogeneous, what do they have in common? I mean in concrete terms, for example, education. We’ll come to attitudes and values in a moment.
- If heterogeneous, how are they different from one another? What do they have in common despite their differences? Maybe there are in the same city but one prefers shopping offline while the other prefers online.
Other factors to consider are:
- Age – what is the average age of my readers? Also, what range is represented? Note that one specific age group may constitute the majority of purchases. For example, in Japan Apple’s typical customer is significantly older that in the US.
- Religious affiliations
- Ethic, racial and cultural groups
The second area to analyse is the disposition of your audience. This relates to the values, principles, and emotional factors that influence your customers. A classic example is offering ‘green’ products that support and protect the environment. While this initiative appeals to most people, not every customer is able or willing to pay the extra price for such products. If this is the case, then you need to think of ways to approach this so you don’t lose potential customers.
Other factors to consider are:
- Expectations – what will your audience expect from your document, product, or service?
- Attitudes – what attitudes do they have towards your company, product, or franchise?
- Problems – what problem (e.g. technical) or issue (e.g. emotional) will your product solve?
- Aspirations – what interests, goals, and aspirations influences your customers buying patterns?
- Motivation – what could motivate potential customers to leave their current preferred supplier and choose another, for example, moving frm Sony PlayStation to MS Xbox.
The final third of your audience analysis is concerned with your product, service, or if you’re giving a speech, the topic you’re about to deliver.
- Baseline – what does your audience already know about your topic? Likewise, if you’re selling a new product, what will they compare it against, for example, in relation to specifications or other features?
- Education – what information can you provide to influence your readers decision making process? Why type of information would influence them the most? For example, technical information may influence buyers interested in power features whereas other customers may be more influenced by endorsements from experts or celebrities. There’s no one answer.
- Language – what we mean here is the tone, phrasing, and type of language you use when ‘talking’ to your audience. Do you use technical terms – and risk going over their heads – or use street slang but risk coming off as trying to be hip and looking foolish. You also have to take regional factors into account. What the French value may be very different that the Scandinavians, for example.
Risks with audience analysis
Unless you know your audience, and possibly sub-audiences, you risk creating products that no-one wants to buy.
Actually, that’s not totally true. Maybe they’ll buy it, out of habit or brand loyalty, but may also have their eye on another product coming on market. A good example is customers who stick with CDs when everyone is moving to digital. Sooner or later they’re going to make the jump. Another example is book shops who try to reduce prices, ie to generate more sales, but fail to attract customers who’ve moved to Kindles or iPads.
One last question.
Does knowing your audience means understanding what they value or what they’re willing to pay to support this value? In the past, the answer was Yes.
However, there are exceptions. The case book example is Apple. Why? Because they create products and then persuade customers that this fulfills some needs, if only this need is to impress others.
The marketing team at Apple creates an environment into which customers want to be part of. It’s a bit like approaching the problem but from a different perspective.