Brand Marketing and Messaging: Ditch Demographics and Use This Instead

Get ready to have your mind blown.

You might want to sit down for this: According to virtually every demographic measurement, Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourn are identical. They’re the same age. They have the same number of kids. Their skin color is the same. They live in the same geographic area. And, they’re both among the most affluent people in the world (Ozzy’s net worth is higher – but at their level, who’s counting?).

That little tidbit of information is part of an important concept that our account executive, Noah, took away from the Ad World digital conference he attended a few months ago. The idea is that the better we can understand how different audiences live, feel, and think, the better we can communicate with them. This audience segmentation concept wasn’t news to us at Relish. We’ve been advocating and implementing this strategy with our clients for some time. But, it’s gratifying to see our brand development and content marketing approach – which goes well beyond demographics – highlighted as a best practice for marketers.

Should we address Rockers like Royals (and vice-versa)?

For decades, conventional marketing wisdom has assumed that demographics are the ideal tool for market segmentation. Clearly, that’s not enough. Especially as the online world encourages consumers to galvanize around shared interests and perspectives, marketers have to meet people where they are, speaking to more informed, narrower audience bases.

Our brand messaging and content marketing processes often include a deep dive into our clients’ audiences. When possible, we talk directly with current, potential, and former customers – often with fascinating results. It isn’t uncommon to discover that a company and its customers don’t see each other the way they see themselves. While such realizations initially may be surprising, bringing those perceptions into better alignment almost always sharpens the company’s branding and messages in creative new ways.

Identifying audience segments is only the first step.

No question, developing a clear understanding of a company’s audiences is essential. For instance, we helped senior living leader Lenbrook identify four distinct audience segments by age, stage of life, and where they are on their buying journeys. Then, for each, we identified the motivations, thoughts, feelings, and timing of their journeys toward decisions about senior living. And, that helped our client orient its teams toward a more incisive approach to different kinds of prospects.

It’s exciting to understand those individual audience segments. But, the real results happen when we use those personas as metrics against which we can measure specific marketing outreach. Back in the days before so much marketing was digital, segmenting marketing across multiple audiences could be prohibitively expensive. Now, it’s not only more affordable, it’s critical. Maybe it once was enough to assume that selling something people need would be enough to make them buy it. Today, the key is to understand their specific experiences and perspectives on the buying journey, then meet them where they are.

Whether you’re marketing to rock stars, royalty, technicians, or truck drivers, the days of all-purpose marketing are over. And the time to build authentic connections with them on a better-informed, more specific level is now.