The Importance of Targeting the Right Demographic: My Experience as a Changing Demographic

My personal experience in the last 6 months has reminded me once again of the importance of targeting the right demographic. 4 months ago my life was forever changed when my wife gave birth to our first son, Sebastian. I was somewhat prepared for the role of father, having listened to advice from friends and family and of course having read literally dozens of books. To my surprise it turns out I was actually well prepared to be a dad. The thing I wasn’t prepared for was becoming a new marketing demographic.

Nobody warned me I was going to be a new demographic, I had to figure it out on my own. My “Aha!” moment happened just a few days ago actually. It made me realize the importance of targeting the right demographic. With the upcoming release of Iron Man 2 I saw this ad for the Audi R8 during a commercial break:

It’s an awesome car and a fun commercial no doubt, but it didn’t really stick with me and it didn’t strike me as anything more than eye candy. 2 years ago I would have been online seconds after seeing the commercial to look up car specs, read more about it and watch the commercial again and again. But 15 minutes later, during the next commercial break, another car ad pops up, this time it’s the new campaign for the Sienna:

Once that wrapped up, I was sold.
I have no need for a new car right now, but I looked over at my wife and I’m pretty sure she was on board. When the show ended, I wandered over to my computer, hopped on their YouTube channel and proceeded to watch all of their ads (if you have some time, you should too…after you finish reading my blog post of course). Then it struck me, I’m the target market for the Toyota ad. Young (hey I’m only 30) dad, growing family, different responsibilities, THAT’S ME! No longer am I checking out sports cars, thinking about weekend getaways with the wife. Now I’m wondering if the current family car is going to be able to hold a stroller and pack ‘n play along with all our groceries. I didn’t actually end up buying the car (or any other car for that matter), but the fact that Toyota was able to entice me to do research on a car that a year ago I would have mocked really stuck with me.

The Target Market

So what does this have to do with my industry? It’s pretty simple, Toyota did their research, identified their target market, and did an awesome job of reaching out to them with their ads. Oftentimes in marketing I come across ads, whether they be on tv, in print or online, that seem to be unaware of their target market. One of the first steps we go through during our branding process is figuring out who our client is speaking to. Frequently the client will think they have a good idea of who their audience is but we find that research occasionally yields some surprises.

It’s easy to forget that a successful marketing campaign needs more than slick graphics and smart copy, it needs to be sold to the right people. Had Toyota replaced those actors with a couple in their mid-40s raising teenagers, I would not have been even slightly interested. Instead they cast the right people, aired a humorous, relatable commercial during a show they knew I was watching and then instead of just promoting their website they actually encouraged me to visit their YouTube page.

The Medium

This leads me to second part of identifying your market, knowing their medium. It’s amazing to me how many companies are still afraid of pushing their messages via non-traditional mediums. The 30-somethings of today are nothing like those of the 90′s. The World Wide Web as we know it came to fruition while most of us were in high school or college. It is a medium we are very comfortable using and one which I use more frequently than magazines or newspapers. The fact that Toyota’s call to action was to get me on their YouTube channel says something about their target market. I gladly went and checked it out because it fit in with my usual routine. Had they requested I visit their dealership or call an 800 number then they would have lost me as soon as their ad ended. That doesn’t mean that every advertiser should drive you to YouTube or Facebook as a call to action. It just means that marketers have more options than ever. Finding the right fit is more important than using the newest technologies.

Conclusion

Before you kick off your next campaign make sure you really know who your target market is, and make sure you’re familiar with the communication mediums they prefer. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some diaper research I need to take care of.