Everyone in media, from massive publishers to small time influencers, have a desire to grow their audience. Historically, to do this, publishers needed to have the ability to generate revenue through newsstands, dial advertising dollars, sell one time (gift) issues, recurring subscriptions via mail in, or simply direct mail the book/newspaper/pamphlet/etc. to the customer’s mailbox. Sure, there were a few hoops to jump through, but executing this was relatively simple compared to the complex ecosystem that makes up the media landscape in 2018.
If you’re interested in audience targeting, then you’re not alone. The focus of audience development brings together the best of sociology, historical advertising/sponsorship models, and technology. While I don’t have cold hard facts, anecdotally it seems that audience development is one of the largest areas of growth in media companies over the past several years. Roles and resources have increased and software vendors have poured into the space. How can you, the publisher, use your smarts and available technology to get the most out of the content you already produce?
Know Your Audience
If you get nothing else from this article, read this! In a world with 15+ billion eyeballs (assuming two per person), you can’t possibly be everything to everyone. Personally, this is something I struggle with because I’m what some call a “people pleaser”. Ultimately, when we approach a particular audience we need to put our generalist hat aside and focus on the niche. It’s all about the NICHE! Nothing is worse than putting together a newsletter articulating that cats are the smartest and most capable pets to an audience of dog lovers. I can already hear the barking! While you shudder at that thought, I’ll shut up and share what I’ve learned about getting to know your audience:
Send out surveys.
- If you already have an email list of readers, this can be easily done. If you’re willing to spend a bit of money to promote the form submissions, you’ll be in excellent shape. Even $100 goes a long way. Shoot for a 5-8% form submission.
Set up focus groups.
- Organize a group of readers for lunch or even coffee. The best time to do this is during an industry/niche event for your audience. If you know of a Harley Davidson event coming up and your readers love riding Harley’s, try reaching out to the event host and asking for a sample of the attendees and invite them to your focus group.
One on One face-time.
- If you have the time and means, nothing is better than sitting down with a member of your audience one on one. Obviously, this is time intensive and I’d only recommend it if your audience is very targeted and already has a high amount of influence. Really though, who turns down a free lunch? You have to eat something right?
After you’ve set up your meetings or decided you’re going with the survey route, you have to decide what you need to know about your audience to make this all worthwhile. Look for Part 2 of this blog series for more info on how to get to know what your audience wants to read about, and when.