What’s The Best Way to Advertise to (Insert Group Name of Your Choice)?

It seems like just about every week I see a question on social media, or coming through various media feeds that I monitor, asking something like: “What’s the best way to market to millennials?” or “What’s the best way to market to Baby Boomers?” or “What’s the best way to market to mothers?” or…insert any group you can think of.

While I do believe that any question is a valid question, and this one obviously must resonate with many, the question itself points to what would be my key recommendation: “The best way to market to XYZ group is to avoid trying to consider them as a single,┬áhomogeneous, group.”

The important consideration for any marketer, or communicator, is to be careful to not cast a net that is too wide when attempting to connect with any audience. Millennials, Baby Boomers, mothers, and other such large groups may be alike in some ways, but chances are they are far more dissimilar in many others. One key best practice, therefore, is to break the group down into smaller segments that could be independently targeted based on certain unique characteristics.

So, for instance, if I start out by thinking I want to target Baby Boomers who are generally considered to have been born between 1946 (now 68 years old) and 1961 (now 53 years old), I’m going to certainly want to narrow down this age range to target the older Boomers differently than I would the younger Boomers.

There may be other distinctions among this broad audience that I could leverage to ensure my messages are on target. For example, I want to segment out groups based on:

  • Retiree vs. non-retiree
  • Income level
  • Geography
  • Values
  • Etc., etc., etc.

The point is that you want to identify those segments that are most likely to represent opportunity for you to sell your products or services and that, because of their differences, might suggest different wants of reaching them through various communication vehicles and might also require different key messages.

Once you’ve identified your target audience segments consider whether there may be any “intervening audiences” who could help you deliver your message to these segments. Intervening audiences are groups that have the ability to effectively, and positively, influence your ultimate target audience. So, for instance, adult children of a Baby Boomer audience of those 65+ might be an intervening group for a healthcare organization promoting memory care services.

It’s all about narrowcasting as much as possible, attempting to find that “perfect balance” between casting a net that is too wide and trying to target so many segments that you are stretching your resources (time and money) inappropriately. The correct approach lies somewhere between these two extremes and will vary based on each organization or individual’s goals and objectives.

To be most effective, marketers need to seek to understand as much as possible about both their primary target audiences and their intervening audiences so that they can:

  1. identify communication channels that will most effectively reach these audiences, and
  2. create key messages to influence them toward the outcomes they are looking for

Avoid making assumptions as you go through this process. Do the necessary research to find out what the real situation is. For instance, while it is often assumed that Baby Boomers are not active users of social media, this is not necessarily true.

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement




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