17 Aug

Play to a bigger audience: aim outwards

I was having a lovely chat – between bottles of Peroni – with my cousin, at a 30th birthday bash, last night.
Among other things, she was telling me about another do she went to, for a friend’s birthday.
It sounded like a really good night – not least because the musical entertainment came from DJ Spoony (formerly a Garage DJ, but plays soul now) and the band, Incognito.

This cousin likes her soul music and is very much ‘in the know’, so she went up to DJ Spoony and made a request, asking him to play Expansions, by Lonnie Liston Smith.

DJ Spoony very politely declined this request, despite the fact that he thought it was a good one.

Why? Because, as he put it: ‘unfortunately, only about six people in the room will get/know that song, including us two – it’s just not mainstream enough for this audience’.
So the choice of song was great, but DJ Spoony had to play for a mass audience, most of whom knew far less of funk and soul than both himself and my cousin
He couldn’t play for himself, and he couldn’t play for just a couple of mates or those few who already knew about soul music
– not unless he wanted to lose the rest of the room.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

The same applies to your company’s marketing, and – in particular – your copy/content: you cannot aim at a few who already know your business/sector and you’re certainly not aiming at yourself – not unless you want to spend all your money buying your own products and services.
You have to aim at as wide an audience as possible, but one that is still relevant to your product or service, or rather your product or service is relevant to them.

Questions around this nearly always come up when I’m working on a web content brief.
I usually go through a whole briefing form – filling in loads of details from answers to questions asked of the client – then send it to the client to look through, and add any details, before signing it off to say: ‘these are the exact details from which you will create my content/idea/copy’.

On the briefing form will be the agreed tone of voice that copy will be written in (fun, edgy, conservative, conversational… pick one), and the audience/demographic we’re aiming at e.g ‘wealthy individuals, 60+, quite conservative/reserved, living in X area’ or ‘urban young adults, 18 – 25, into X music, from X area’.

A little while back, I sent a client the first draft of their copy and they came back with: ‘I’m not really sure about it – it wasn’t really aimed at me.’
This didn’t put me on the back foot at all: it set things up perfectly to explain that the last person I wanted to aim at was him. He’s not his own audience. He’s as far removed from the audience his service is aimed at as possible.
His audience was the one set out on the briefing form, so he has to reach as many of them as possible, in the way/tone they like to be spoken to … which is completely different to how he likes to be spoken to.
He’s not a customer of his own his business – he won’t be buying his own stuff – he’s the owner. The very last person it should be aimed at is him.

The marketing of your business should always be aimed outwards – not inwards – to as wide a relevant audience as possible: not everyone in the world,  just a particular, well-chosen group of people.

If you aim at too narrow an audience or – worse still – at yourself, you risk playing to ‘only six people in the room’, if that, and losing the rest of that room.

Anyway, I know nothing about soul music, but I thank my cousin for that reference – it’s a cracking tune. Here it is:


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