Understanding your target audience


I’ve been inspired to write this post today on the back of yesterday’s Apprentice antics in the UK. Some of the core issues were part of the work I had been doing with a client in the morning, looking at his target audiences and working out how to effectively market his service as ‘products’ that they could identify with.

The task was about creating a new pet food product, marketing it and being judged on the concept & campaign execution.

And to be honest, what both teams did in the short timeframe was really very good – although they did have design agencies and lots of people to help with voice-overs, recording TV adverts etc.

However in my opinion, the biggest mistake that one of the teams made was simply taking too wide a strategic view on what they were doing – FOR THE TASK!

Their product was food for Every Dog – however their strategy was much bigger than this…..it was to build an ‘Every’ brand which they could see stretching off into the sunset….Every Cat/Every Fish et al. You could see the twinkle in @lord_sugar’s eye at the prospect of such an idea, but for the task at hand they were simply setting themselves up for a fall.

Another thing that went against all marketing principles was during their research when someone in their focus group told them he thought they were aiming too wide.

And I can’t believe that the naff product itself escaped mention on the show – it had no shelf appeal whatsoever. What did work very well for them was the execution of their TV advert – and I also liked the billboard…..but again, the problem with all of that was nothing really tied together – they certainly hadn’t integrated their marketing!

And the other group went for a product that would help owners keep their cats weight under control. They quickly realised that a huge proportion of the moggy market is overweight – we’ve all seen those cats who look like they could do with a treadmill session!

Fat Cat from Fugly.com

So they opted for a product which would make cats healthy, happy and used a play on words to call their product CatSize(Cats eyes….twinkle in the road, geddit?). Their packaging was very good – looked great, had a nice little tape measure along the top to tie in the theme etc. Their advert was sort of wishywashy but you could see that they had the (fish)bones of a really great idea, had executed their product well, and overall they won.

Neither of the project managers this week managed their teams very well – both were head strong and utterly sure that their ideas were the best of the bunch, when they had strong people in their teams who they should have trusted to deliver for the team. I wonder if part of the problem with these tasks is that there simply isn’t enough time to nail the idea, test it and create the campaigns…..there is often a total shift in strategy mid way through a task. But a PM needs to be in control and take these tough decisions, just like a business owner needs to.


Anyway, with my client yesterday we did some segmentation work – splitting his audience into groups of similar people, with similar needs so that we could tailor the messages, and understand how best to market to them.

It is very important to create a picture of your ideal customer within the segments, know what their issues are, look at how you can grab their attention, talk to them in the right language and communicate via the best media for THEM.

Of course, when you are running a small business, you simply want to sell to everyone – but look back at the people who have bought your product already…..they like what you are offering. So doesnt it make sense to go out and find some more of these people? And if you know your existing customers well, you can understand all of the things that you need to do to get more of the same – simple!

In my client’s case, there were four stand-out segments – a couple of whom were regular, straightforward business, and one or two were very niche, but big ticket pieces of work. So we will build a plan to target more of two of the segments, who will bring in smaller, regular work, to keep the business busy – and create some specialised marketing to go after the other work which could bring in a couple of really big and interesting jobs.

And then we also talked about a new product he is thinking of bringing to market, and looked at making it work smarter for him: expanding on what he was planning, but making it an easier sell!

An interesting day all round – and a good example of why I love marketing!

Have a good day,


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