Diversify, broaden, or deepen: Choose one to focus audience strategy

By Cathy Colliver

Courier-Journal Media, USA TODAY NETWORK

Louisville, Kentucky, USA


In marketing, understanding your customers’ needs, interests, and habits — and how you can connect them with what they need — all play a critical role in forming a strategy for continued audience growth.

However, before diving deep into tactics, it’s best to take a step back and consider critical business goals. This will provide the focus you need to forge the right audience strategy for your business to succeed.

Do you most need to diversify, broaden, or deepen your audience base to reach your business goals?

Different tactics should be used, depending on how an organisation wants to connect with customers.
Different tactics should be used, depending on how an organisation wants to connect with customers.

This idea is very familiar to those in performance arts marketing, which is, of course, very audience-focused. The U.S.-based RAND Corporation released a study in 2001 focused on three key audience strategies for increasing arts participation:

  • Diversify participation by attracting different kinds of people than they already attract.
  • Broaden participation by attracting more people.
  • Deepen participation by increasing their current participants’ levels of involvement.

If you consider your audience strategy alongside critical business goals, it will usually become quite clear which approach will either most benefit your business or which approach has the most likely chance of success. These are not always the same thing.

Diversify, broaden, or deepen?

Diversifying your audience can help you expand your reach and even mitigate risk by appealing to a wider customer base.

In the news media world, we see this happening quite a bit related to generational audience development. News media companies have been adapting to an increasingly fragmented digital world in order to expand their audience reach with Millennials — and, now, even Generation Z.

Broadening, or growing, your audience to include more of the same mix of customers could make sense if you are looking to increase revenues based on volume. You are essentially developing a “look alike” audience strategy in marketing parlance.

Understanding your existing customer base can help you identify potential customers with similar demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioural characteristics.

For a news media company with a healthy spread of customer “types,” focusing on people with similar interests and habits could help focus your marketing tactics to grow the overall audience base.

Deepening as an audience strategy could make sense if actual volume of customers is less important than things like engagement with content or average revenue per customer.

This is often seen played out with loyalty programmes, content suggestions, personalisation, and other ways to make customers’ experience sticky and more valuable, so they will return again and again. And, sometimes, it’s about good, old-fashioned customer service.

Focus is the key to success

By focusing your efforts on the strategy best suited to accomplishing core business goals, you can more effectively cultivate your audience and support operational success at the same time. You can also spend time to develop a better understanding of what makes your ideal audience tick.

When you have clarity about not just who your ideal audience is, but also how they use your product, you can more effectively share your brand story. A focused audience strategy will also help you invest your marketing budget and time where it will best reach the right audience to move your goals forward.

These three different audience strategies can accomplish different outcomes. And your company might benefit in different ways from all three. The point of this strategy, however, is for you to choose the audience strategy that will best help you reach your business goals.

About Cathy Colliver

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