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Know Your Target Audience

In the discovery sessions we conduct with our clients before creating their marketing programs, we insist on having all their stakeholders present. We define stakeholders as anyone with the authority and autonomy to show up at any time — up to and including launch — and say, “No!”

We do that to preclude the possibility (often the probability) that someone who didn’t attend the discovery session, who isn’t aware of the consensus we achieved in the session, who doesn’t care and probably isn’t even curious about why we did what we did, and who has the juice to do it can slam on the brakes and say, “I want that to be blue,” regardless of what that is. If you think we’re joking, we’ll invite you along for the ride some time.

All of that rigamarole could be prevented, of course, if the stakeholder remembered the four Rules of Marketing. Here they are:

  1. You’re not the target audience. Unless you happen to be the single largest purchaser of your own product or service, go away. Put down your ego, step away from the Opinion Rack, and go play Cribbage on your computer. It’ll teach you some strategy, and it’ll help your counting skills.
  2. Your Uncle Wally is not the target audience. We don’t care if he was an Account Executive at Ogilvey & Mather in the ’60s. If he were that good, he would have been the Creative Director. Besides things have changed a tad in 50 years, Uncle Wally’s ties notwithstanding.
  3. Your Aunt Mildred is not the target audience. Yes. She was Chair of the Art Guild in Hiccup, Montana, before her lumbago compelled her to give it up. But serving as the one-person jury for local painting exhibits does not a graphic designer make.
  4. Your Mom is not the target audience. She loves you, for cryin’ out loud. She’s going to tell you everything you do is good. Don’t let it go to your head.

If you want to know if your work is good, ask your client — after he’s let you assess his objectives and his target audience.

After that, his customers will tell you everything you need to know.


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