Are You Speaking to Your Target or to Everyone?

by James on September 9, 2008

I worked with an account person in Chicago who understood that customers are important and that understanding them, speaking to them in their terms was key for successful direct marketing.

One time she was working on a new product launch for our client and needed to write the creative brief. I knew the project had special importance so, probably to her chagrin, I inserted myself into the review process. The brief went back and forth several times. Then she came to my office and asked a simple question,

“What am I doing wrong.”

“You aren’t defining the target from their point of view.”

I told my colleague to empathize with the target, to get into their skin and define them as they see themselves. She did this, and did it very well. In research customers spoke in glowing terms about the direct mail package that came from the brief; what the piece said and how it said it, resonated with them. In the mail box the package broke through the clutter and connected with the audience. The business results broke records. The direct mail creative won awards.

Define the Target as They See Themselves

Define the target audience as they see themselves. This is the most important element in a creative brief. The more information you can provide, meaningful information that brings the target to life, the better the creative team will know the target. The copy they write will speak to the customer like they know each other. The design will resonate with the customer’s perspective on life. Keep in mind, only in rare circumstances are we speaking to our peer group. In most cases the target lives a life that is very different from yours, and from the creative team’s. A simple idea, but effective.

Look at your recent work and ask yourself, “Does this speak to the target in a way that’s meaningful to them or does it speak to me or worse does it speak to everyone?”

Hip Shots

  • Defining the target audience as completely as possible. How completely you define the target makes the difference between advertising that is accurate and advertising that works.
  • Go beyond demographics. Describe their attitudes. Describe how they think, and how it’s different from others. Define the problem the product or service will solve, in terms of their lives, and in terms of their competitive choices. Sum it up with a key insight into the target.
  • Resist the urge to try and speak to everyone. You want the the advertising to speak to a specific, real person. Advertising created this way is much more likely to break through the clutter. Advertising that speaks to everyone becomes part of the noise and speaks to nobody.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome September 10, 2008 at 12:17 am

I believe that I speak to my target audience, and the people who comment on my blog reflect that – the big difficulty for me is getting in front of more of the target group…

Alex Fayle | Someday Syndromes last blog post..Discovering a Passion for Blogging: Urban Panther Interview Part 2

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