August 08, 2019

Think Small, Sell Big – How Appealing to Niche Audiences Can Boost Campaign Results

Got a great product that everyone will love? Now all you have to do is create a marketing campaign that appeals to all ages, genders, professions and nationalities, and you’ll sell loads…

If only it were that easy! The truth is, it’s impossible to appeal to everyone. Ironically, in trying to do so you’ll probably only produce a bland brand message that pretty much appeals to no one. 

You might believe your product to be of universal interest to consumers, but unless you pick a segment to target, your marketing will lack a relatable voice. On the other hand, the more you drill down to the nitty-gritty of who you’re speaking to, the more affinity you can build with those consumers. Being selective can actually help you sell more.

In this article, we’ll look at the benefits offered by highly targeted campaigns – where you’ve honed your buyer persona so precisely that you can handpick those consumers from the crowd and sell directly to them. 

How niche should you go?

Thanks to the targeting capabilities of social platforms like Facebook it’s possible to direct advertising to extremely specific demographics. To highlight that, consider this now legendary digital marketing tale of when marketer Brian Swichkow set out to prank his roommate

Swichkow created a Facebook Custom Audience of just one person using his roommate’s email address and then created a series of super-personalised ads to creep out his friend. The campaign focused on the fact that his friend is a professional sword swallower but also used information that Facebook really shouldn’t know. 

Naturally, it left his friend in a state of complete paranoia, convinced that he was being spied on through his phone – until Swichkow ‘fessed up via a final targeted ad (see below). Clearly, Swichkow took things too far, but it does demonstrate the power of niche messaging. Marketers can narrow down a realistic segment (or segments) to target using marketing personas; fictional characters that represent the goals and behaviours of a hypothesised group of consumers. We’ll discuss these in the next section.

Creating your target personas

Creating truly effective marketing personas comes down to research – you need to find out who is (or isn’t) buying your product and why. Or, for new brands, who might be interested in buying your product and why.

To do this you should combine sales/user data with consumer insight gathered through interviews and surveys (if you’re interested in surveys, check out our Complete Guide to Survey Creation). You’ll probably discover more than just one type of core customer, and you can create a marketing persona for each one.  

When you create a marketing persona, you build out an identity, which includes giving them a name and a face. You can choose an illustrated representation or use a photo of what you think that individual might look like. Visit thispersondoesnotexist.com to generate a random synthesized face, like the one below. If the face you get is unsuitable, you can click to generate another.

Your persona should go further than basic demographic details (like age, gender, location, family, level of education and salary) to detail the individual’s interests and hobbies, their values and beliefs and even their hopes and fears. What challenges do they face? What are their goals? The aim is to really get under this person’s skin and understand where your product fits into their narrative. 

By using focus groups to interview consumers, or allowing them to respond to survey questions with free-text answers, you can also capture the language of your target audience. This will help you craft a tone of voice for your campaigns that reflects their own way of talking. 

To complete your personas, don’t forget to also include the social platforms each fictional character uses and the media they consume because this can help guide the media planning for your campaign. Check out our recent Media Consumption Report for a greater understanding of the habits of different demographics.

Designing a campaign around your persona

Now you’ve put a face and a name to the customer you’re targeting, how much easier will it be to address them? You know who they are, what they like, what they don’t like, what challenges they’re facing and the reasons they’ll have an interest in your product. 

Let’s look at an example – an eco nappy brand has identified a persona called Sarah; a 30-year-old married professional from the home counties who is expecting her first baby. She is keen to be as prepared as possible and has already started researching nappy brands. As well as being concerned about which nappy will provide the best protection for her baby, she wants to make the most environmentally-friendly choice. She is prepared to pay a premium for the right nappy but is confused about the myriad of options and seeking a brand she can put her trust in.

Sarah is at a critical decision-making stage, so the nappy brand decides to develop a suite of assets to address her specific concerns as a first-time mum and as someone who cares about the environment. This content will be distinctly different from that which targets, say, an experienced mother of three. 

In addition to tailoring the content specifically to your chosen persona, you can incorporate elements of personalisation based on the demographic information of your target consumers. For example, you could create an ad saying the following: About to become a mum? Live in Essex? Get a free sample pack of our environmentally friendly nappies. When this is displayed to expectant mothers in Essex, it’s going to grab their attention way more than a generic nappy ad. 

The great thing about highly targeted campaigns is that once you’ve got all the ‘Sarahs’ on board, they become advocates for your brand. It means your message can spread beyond this audience to others through word-of-mouth, helping you see which niche to go after next.  

A final thought

When it comes to advertising, we often think about how we can reach as many people as possible. It seems counterintuitive to purposely limit campaigns to just a handful of consumers but the tactic can be highly effective. If you need proof, just look at these five brilliant examples of highly targeted campaigns.

Narrowing your audience down and creating messaging that appeals directly to them can dramatically enhance your conversion rate. Think of it like fishing – while mass marketing enables you to cast a wide net and catch a few fish (probably an old bike and some seaweed too), targeted campaigns are like baiting a line with a juicy worm. This gives you the best chance of landing a prize fish!

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