Sunday, 6 December 2009

How important is it to define your target audience?

We are constantly told that in order to reach your audience, to get your message understood by them, and to change their behaviour, it is imperative to know exactly who they are. This knowledge is likely to shape your message and dictate the channels through which you communicate with your target group.

We are also taught that defining your target audience as ‘the general public’ is blasphemy in PR. How then is it possible that a PR agency that didn’t define its target audience or even see it as a priority was so successful in its PR campaign?

Watershed PR was given the objective to increase the number of visitors to the Bath & West Show 2009 and more than achieved this by targeting national newspapers and drive-time radio shows. Is communicating via mass media enough guarantee that your message will be received by potential audiences? Or is this case a one-off?


  1. Hi Beth,

    If you have an event of mass market appeal, such as the B&W show, then sure, you should expect to get a pretty good ROI from a mass media campaign. The same is true for well known products that you see advertised on TV.

    In this case, B&W has mass market appeal. It doesn't really matter what age group you are, what gender you are, or what your income is. There is something for most people.

    However, if you chose to advertise the Ideal Home Exhibition through a 24 hour rolling advertisement on Men & Motors, you'd probably find that your client would seek another agency.

    If, however, you are not a well known brand, then (i) you won't have the budget for mass market advertising and (ii) your ROI is probably going to be quite small. And that, really, is the problem for small businesses. It's compounded by the fact that mailing lists are prohibitively expensive. I've just paid over £1,000 for 5,000 email addresses and telephone numbers - this was from a reputable company, and despite me very precisely targeting what i was after (companies with more than 20 employees and a turnover in excess of £5m in the services sector) i've got some real rubbish in there.

    But back to your example. It would be interesting to see what the response rate was from the campaign. And it would be interesting to see whether this would have been higher if they had a series of targetted ads (for example targeted at farmers, at parents with children, etc).

    Hope this helps.


  2. I think that to some extend mass media can be even better carrier of the message than targeting audience itself with some different tools. Firstly it is because reaching vast amount of people gives you better chance to reach, among others, the ones you want to reach. Secondly, if the message is universal enough, it will attract your audience plus some of the ones you reached who were not within the target audience you expected. With the mass media it is enough to get people interested, and as most of people are pushed to do things by something they see on TV or hear on the radio, therefore you can get your message to them with use of the mass media quite easily.