Audience is everything. Have you ever wondered if you are saying the right things to the right people?

For example, what do the products in this picture mean to you?

On the surface, it might seem very straightforward. Just a soft drink and a snack item, right? Maybe not.

It is actually a little more complex than that. If you grew up in the southern United States, there is a pretty good chance you see this as a picture of something akin to soul food. RC Cola and a Moon Pie.

In some places, you really won’t think of one without the other. Just the mention of them can even evoke an emotional response for some people. Memories of childhood. Memories of taking your lunch to school knowing these treats were waiting in your lunch pail. Even there ... lunch pail? In the northern part of the United States, both of these products may be off your radar altogether, much less calling a “lunchbox” a “lunch pail.”

As much as we might all be alike, we are all very different. That’s not something I needed to tell you. You already knew that. We have, for years now, been segmenting our markets, and trying to make adjustments to our products to better appeal to the different groups we love to think of as customers.

If you are really good, you’ve been creating different offers and pitches designed to appeal to different demographic segments of your market. Again, not a new idea. Just one we must continue to refine.

Now, if you are really, really good — gold-star good — then you are designing your retention efforts with those same principles in mind. Let me suggest an actionable strategy to you.

  • Step 1. Append lifestyle and demographic data to your circulation, database, e-mail systems, or whatever you are using to track retention and send out messages to your audience. This will allow you to customise your retention messaging.

  • Step 2. Append communication preferences. Does this person prefer to be e-mailed, called, or mailed? This is key. I’ll say it again. This is key. Calling people who are resistant to phone solicitation is pointless. Likewise, did you know that you can define at a household-specific level people who are responsive to e-mail solicitation?

  • Step 3. Segment your audience by lifestyle/demographics and communication preferences.

  • Step 4. Customise your retention programme by your segments. Mail one group a loyalty programme reward to your local symphony. E-mail or text out your new starts a free drink coupon at a local bar. Call another group with a free custom water bottle offer just before their first payment is due. You get the picture.

  • Step 5. Track what you’re doing with each segment. Is it working? Don’t waste your time doing stuff that doesn’t work.

Have you ever thought about the power you would have if you could prevent someone from kicking you to the curb before they do it? Apply the same marketing concepts to your retention programme as you do your solicitation programme. Give ’em what they want. Find the Moon Pie & RC Cola of your audiences.