Audiences, as we know them, are broken.
They used to be these giant huddled masses — strangers united by nothing more than age or location or some other general demographic detail.
They’ve tapered off into countless little groups. And these groups have fragmented into even smaller sub-groups.
Audiences today are like those nesting Russian dolls. They just keep getting smaller and smaller as you open them.
Now, instead of being thrown into some vague category like “men between 18 and 35,” the audience has all the power…
They CHOOSE the groups they’d like to join much in the same way how people choose communities in real life. They base their memberships on common interest.
It doesn’t matter if this interest is popular (like basketball) or extremely obscure (pulp sci-fi novels from the 1940s).
There’s a forum out there somewhere catering to them. A Facebook group and a podcast.
This is an incredible development from a marketer’s perspective! It simply becomes a matter of finding these places and connecting with the people there.
If you do this well, it doesn’t take a huge audience to support a thriving business. Kevin Kelly’s “1,000 True Fans” article has never been more relevant:
Find a thousand people who love your products, people willing to buy everything you put out, and you can succeed beyond your wildest imagination.
Where marketers screw up is in the execution.
There’s a disconnect between their messaging and the target audience.
We’re still addressing people like they’re members of those giant audiences of old. “The mothers between 30 and 40.” Or the “affluent young urban professionals.”
Back when audiences didn’t have the power to self-segregate into these tiny sub-niches, marketers had to generalize their messaging. Our audiences had little in common. So we had to play it safe. Water down our appeals to avoid offending a chunk of the audience.
That made sense back then…
But this is NOW.
Now we can afford to be hyper-focused with our approach. We can afford to polarize and express who we aren’t trying to serve… just as much as the people we are.
Does your messaging reflect this reality?
Or you still falling into patterns of the old model?
Because your niche is out there somewhere. Living in specific digital neighborhoods.
How much time have you spent there getting to know these people? You understand what they like. How about why they like it? How about what they hate? Their world view at large?
All of these insights are invaluable.
If you can integrate them in your marketing, you’ll show people you truly understand them like no one else. Gathering 1,000 true fans goes from a matter of IF… to WHEN.
The audiences have changed. So should your messaging.