Friday, August 05, 2005

Confirm Audience Stereotypes Before Marketing to Them

There's a huge difference between marketing to Personas and marketing to stereotypes of what we think an audience looks like. Persona marketing is based on data and critical insights. Stereotyping is based on opinion (often wrong).

Two examples:

The first is from Ageless Marketing:

Today’s 86 million young adults generally have idealized and somewhat narcissistic images of their life’s meaning. Life is all about self. And it’s been that way among the young from time immemorial.

Today’s 132 million middle-aged and older adults generally have more realistic and less self-centered images of their life’s meaning. While the young dream of what they want to be in the future, older people tend to strive to be what they want to be in the present. Much of that striving revolves around the pursuit and expression of life meaning.
My second example comes from an observation made by Lou Washington, a colleague of mine at Cincom. Lou attended a conference on mainframe technology sponsored by IBM. During the meeting, he took time to look around the room and observe the audience surrounding him. He realized that many of the preconceptions we had about the people working in the mainframe sector of the computer industry were dead wrong.

Here's what Lou observed:

There was a fairly wide range in age of the attendees which I found to be somewhat surprising. Given the fact that the subject was mainframe computers and the target was decision making executives one would have expected an older group. Don't get me wrong, there were older guys there, but there were plenty of younger folks, some in their late 20s and many in their 30s and 40s. One presenter even commented on the lack of "plaid pants" in the audience and also mentioned rest homes as a recruitment target for COBOL programmers. That kind of humor does not play well with people coping with end of career irrelevancy issues and this crowd enjoyed the joke! I felt I was with a fresh, "quick study", connected group of people who were critically involved with their company direction, management and strategy. You heard a lot of cell phones and saw a lot of blackberry units in use as well as a plethora of high-end laptops. These were clearly not people waiting out their careers, looking to reminisce with each other about the good old days of the mainframe.
Now this is the fodder for marketing!

Put aside our opinions and get out in the marketplace and observe. It can shake things up pretty good.

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