Stand-up comedy, antibiotics and marketing

Yes, there is a connection. It’s called a target.

Understanding the precise nature – what or who the target is – impacts the effectiveness of stage routines, pharmaceuticals and marketing campaigns. A conservative audience would be easily offended by a comic with a hefty repertoire of blue gags. If a stand-up bases their humour on nostalgic reminiscences of growing up in the 1970s then they will bomb with a younger crowd. A narrow-spectrum antibiotic will be useless if the pathogen it’s meant to attack has been incorrectly identified. Picking the right jokes, the right medicines, or the right method of getting a marketing message home. It is all about knowing the target audience.

Dart that has missed the dartboard target being studied by a plastic business man


We’ve always done it this way

Throughout my career, I’ve come across a great number of businesses trying to market their products or services without this key piece of information. Occasionally they’ve got lucky, but often their lack of focus has seen them waste precious resources. They decide they’re going to do something to promote their brand and they get straight to the task, doing what they’ve done before. Having always used print advertising, they do it again. They always produce branded business gifts, so they order more.

Caveman dragging cart with square wheels. Too busy to take help from other caveman offering to give him round wheels.

At the other end of the scale are the “scatter-gunners”. They use every method in the book: email, social media, print, radio, television, digital ads, mailshots and flyers, expos and mail drops, and some of it works. And that “some” in that last sentence is crucial. Every bit of activity that fails to connect with the target is a lost opportunity and more importantly wasted money.

Poorly targeted messages have the potential to alienate new potential buyers, and can actually damage your brand. If you hear a cheesy radio ad too many times then you’ll never go near the product. If you feel swamped by a campaign that comes at you from every conceivable source, then there’s every chance that you’ll be jaded before the product is even launched. It’s similar to the problem that can arise with a broad-spectrum antibiotic – the target develops resistance.


Know your target audience

Just like our stand-up artist, you’ve got to know and respect your target audience. You’ve got to deliver the message to the right people and in the right way. Remember Apple and the U2 album? I enjoy the convenience of digital music, but I still like to control what I have on my device. Assuming that 500 million diverse people would welcome a bit of free Bono in their music library must count as one of the biggest marketing errors made. It’s even worse when the organisation already had the analytics required to predict who would welcome the gift.

Too often a lot of hard work goes into campaigns that cost a fortune and miss by a mile. Identify the target audience at the outset in order to choose the most appropriate media with which to reach those targets. You’ll save time, money and work. And, of course, you’ll be a lot more successful with the campaign.

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