In marketing, defining your core target market is a fundamental part of developing a brand or campaign.
Traditionally, your target market is defined by demographics. This includes age, gender, race, marital status, income, education and employment. Demographics defines who your core target audience is.
Sometimes this will be supplemented by psychographic information. Psychographics help us understand why your target market buys your brand. Usually marketers will look at information such as a buyer’s values or beliefs in relation to the brand. It may also consider hobbies, habits and desires.
The combination of demographics and psychographics can provide valuable insights to a marketer to help them shape their marketing strategy.
Yet there is one part of psychographics that is not considered nearly often enough by marketers… a person’s narrative or world view, beyond the world of brands and product purchasing.
The environment we live in today is shaping some hard-core world views, especially but not exclusively amongst Gen Z and younger Millennials. These world views are becoming a forceful narrative that drives their behaviour. This includes their purchasing behaviour.
Some of the most powerful narratives that shape the way people behave include attitudes towards climate change, animal welfare, race, gender equality and societal inequities.
These narratives play out as the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. These stories define who we are.
Think about it.
We are absolutely the culmination of all of our stories, some public, some private.
This narrative that we have of ourselves shapes our own view of ourselves and our place in the world. How we live our lives, the cars we drive, the suburbs we live in and the careers we choose. It shapes the challenges we choose to accept and the people we choose to be friends with and associate with. It even shapes the people we choose to judge and categorise as “not people like us”.
One of my favourite authors and influencers, Seth Godin, refers to this as “People like us do things like this”.
He talks to the idea that our actions are primarily driven by one question. “Do people like me do things like this?”
People like me eat in restaurants like this.
People like me wear clothes like this.
People like me read these publications.
People like me stand up for older people on public transport.
People like me drive a nice car.
People like me take public transport instead of driving a flashy car.
He relates this idea to marketing and how important it is to define your “people like us”, because to do otherwise leads to compromise. It leads to trying to exclude no-one and appeal to everyone, which eventuates in becoming vanilla and lacking strong appeal to anyone.
In the age of Purpose, I extend Seth Godin’s idea of “People like us do things like this” to “People like us believe things like this”. Zeroing in on the beliefs, narrative or world view that each of us hold to be true, that we identify with. That we care enough about to show up for.
Like Seth Godin, I believe the days of mass marketing are over. In an age where power is in the hands of the customer, we have to be clear on who we serve. Not just by demographics and needs, but as importantly, by their narrative, the very thing that shapes their identity of themselves. This is especially true for businesses who seek to serve a higher purpose.
Most businesses don’t need millions of customers. That’s the road to mass marketing. That way you’ll find the path littered with signs shouting discounts, sales, freebies, two-for-one offers.
Most businesses – whether B2B or B2C – would prefer to have high quality, loyal customers who are willing to pay a premium for your product or service and who will be your greatest advocates and promoters, because they believe in what you stand for and they want to be a part of the change that your business is committed to achieving. Imagine that. Customers who love your business or brand. Who talk about how great you are and who attract more customers just like them. These are people who are ready to join your endeavours to create positive change.
This idea though is not just relevant to marketing. It actually starts with your own people, your employees. It then extends to all of your key stakeholders. Your customers, your investors, your partners and collaborators and your suppliers.
“People like us believe things like this” is a powerful rallying call to people who share a common belief.
It is also important to understand that your target is not your market. Just because you target one group very clearly does not mean that you don’t appeal outside of that group.
Think about it this way.
When you have clarity of Purpose and are clear on who are your “People Like Us”, then you will have a core group of advocates who love what you stand for. Think of them as your heartland. They are your fellow change-makers who are part of your movement of change. They’re your most loyal customers, employees and stakeholders.
Beyond this group are another group that I call your “supporters”. They agree with what you stand for; not as passionately as your People Like Us, but it still resonates with them. They want to support you and will do so whenever it suits them.
Further out, are your “appreciators”. These are people who aren’t emotionally invested in your cause or movement, but they respect and appreciate you for caring enough about something to make a stand. They will be your occasional customers or clients. As employees, they will show up. Just don’t expect the kind of commitment you get with those who are invested in your organisation’s purpose.
This idea gives context to the growing success of “Purposeful” brands. Businesses and brands that stand for something so clearly, are a beacon to their “People Like us”. They attract them and in doing so, they can create and scale movements for change.
My own business is an example.
The Cause Effect’s “People Like Us” believe in a future where business is a force for good. They understand, whether intuitively or rationally, that business has a bigger game to play and they want to play it. They want to use their business or their role in business to make things better. Importantly, they understand that by making things better, they will drive the success of their business. Profit through Purpose.
We live in a time where there is a clear need for transformation – of how we conduct business, how we consume, how we treat others and how we treat our natural environment.
People have no choice but to respond to this – both consciously and sub-consciously.
Brands that align themselves with a movement for change are attracting their “People Like Us” – those people who share their world view. Imagine building and growing a business with a team of people who believe in the shared powerful idea of change that you are in business to create.
Equally, in the face of clear societal need, brands that continue with business-as-usual driven by profit as their energising force, are also attracting their “People Like Us”.
Every business has a choice. The more passionate the beliefs are of your “People Like Us”, the more opportunity your brand has in generating emotional investment and loyalty, from customers, employees, partners, investors and suppliers.
So, how might you describe your “People Like Us”?