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You are not your target audience

Again and again, I work with clients who are trying to develop websites (and other materials) targeted at specific target audiences. Usually, the client isn't part of that target audience - and even if they do fit demographically, they're always much more educated on the issues and more internally-focused than the audience.

Now comes a great reminder from the New Insights & New Voices Project. They point us to an example of work done at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. Here's Rebecca Brookes:

Do you know what ‘reproductive’ means to regular people? Have you checked in with your target audience on that? We asked our target audience and we were told ‘reproductive’ meant having babies. They also told us that ‘clinic’ meant dirty and substandard. And they told us that nurse practitioners were nurses in training — not real nurses yet. Which was a real shame, since our print ads at the time basically said: ‘Come to our clinics for reproductive health care from caring nurse practitioners.’

This campaign was aimed at 18- to 24-year-old guys. I’m 50. If I had only consulted with my own instincts, I would have been wrong at every single stage of this campaign.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in rooms with well-meaning smart people and they’ve shown me a plan or an ad and asked, ‘What do you think?’ I always say, it doesn’t matter what I think, I’m not the target audience.

And that's just lesson #3 from the second edition of the Low Hanging Fruit newsletter. Dive in and get more from the New Insights & New Voices Project.

Posted on March 25, 2005 in