Who’s this for?

“Daddy, is this show for moms and dads or just dads? It’s not for kids, right?” Even a 4-year-old can sense when they aren’t the audience. I didn’t tell her then, but I feel the same way when I walk in the room when her shows are on. This show is for kids, not moms and dads, right? Tune in late night or midday and the show listings and advertisements are vastly different than “prime time” activity.

Game shows, a long staple of midday programming, commonly featured product placements targeting the stay-at-home parent who might be the primary household shopper. The advertisements during the show had the same goal. Prime time game shows bring out larger stakes and bigger products, appealing to that shifting audience. Pick up a newspaper, grab a magazine and look at the advertisements. You’ll learn fast if you are the audience. Is there anything you’d buy showcased? Do they speak to you? Does it resonate?

My kids watch a show about fairies or princesses and every commercial makes them leap to their feet, but they do little for me other than make me want to turn it off. Even kids can tell who the show is for. My little girl recognized the show I was watching was for moms and dads by the commercial that was running. It wasn’t even the show itself. She didn’t understand the spot and thought it had to be a “moms and dads” show, which means to her, time to head to another room.

In day-to-day communications, marketing, and selling, you have to know your audience. You have to know who you are talking to, what motivates them, and what scares them. When you know them completely, then your marketing, whether a brochure or a commercial, will make more sense. And, it’s important to note, you can’t speak to everyone at once. It’s impossible. It is, however, the surest way to failure.

David Cain works at Magnitude, a sales and marketing agency. Contact David at David.Cain@MarketMagnitude.com.