You are not for all markets: Embracing niche marketing

In my last post I talked briefly about creating the profile of what John Jantsch calls the “ideal customer.”  (Yep, another post inspired by The Referral Engine)  In the theatre world we tend to shy away from the idea of creating one customer profile because we like to think that, if we could just get them in the door, most people would love what we do.  Please, keep believing that.  Hope springs eternal.  However, think about the power (and return on investment) of taking a smidgen of your marketing plan and focusing it on your true, core, ideal patron.

As an example, I’ll profile who I think is the ideal customer of Synchronicity Theatre:

  • Female
  • Professional
  • Well-educated
  • Household income of $75,000 or above
  • age 30-60
  • liberal
  • active member of a socio-political civic organization and/or corporate women’s affinity group
  • living within the neighborhoods surrounding 7 Stages Theatre

Think about the focus this provides to the marketing initiatives.  Immediately we know which blogs we should be reading and leaving comments on, which organizations we should be partnering with, where we should be setting the Artistic Director up with speaking engagements, etc.  Being this specific does not mean that we are turning away politically moderate stay-at-home moms or men right out of grad school.  But, those niches aren’t our ideal patron.  Our ideal patron will jump fully into our mission and revel in every nuance of it, understanding immediately the power and purpose of our company.

I challenge us all to take a moment with our key staff and construct the profile of our ideal patrons.  Then, for the entire next season, commit to targeting this patron in every way we can.  Notice nothing I listed above costs marketing dollars, but if you have the money, put some of it behind this experiment.  Plan out your key metrics now and track them against your general outreach and this targeted campaign.   Back to The Referral Engine, Jantsch lists these four goals as good measures to start with:

  • Lead generation:  For our purposes, let’s count this as how many people you are getting your message in front of with each campaign
  • Percentage of leads converted: How many folks from your initial list actually buy a ticket / attend an event?
  • Cost per customer acquisition: This is important!  How much did you spend per converted customer for each campaign?
  • Average dollar transaction per customer: How many tickets did they buy and at what price point?

I would like to add one more indicator:

  • Total income generated per customer acquisition for the season: I contend that your ideal customer will come back more often than the general target.

Come on, try it with me for a year.  Let’s report back at the end of the 2010-2011 season and see how we did.

6 thoughts on “You are not for all markets: Embracing niche marketing

  1. Great stuff, Amy.

    One thing I’d like to add is this. My style is to try to remove any of the roadblocks that get in the way of making this stuff work for you. And often times I find that demographics do more harm than good. The reason for this is that in putting the ideal person down on paper, we start making up a person to use as a demographic. Instead of a real, living, breathing person.

    So yes, you can start with a demographic but don’t stop there. Narrow it down to one, real person. Then instead of focusing on the demographic focus on that real person. Then you’re dealing with reality. Not some made up “ideal.”

    In fact, I’d go as far as to say if you have an audience already you can skip the demographic and just focus on someone who comes all the time and pays to see what you do. If you can tailor your marketing and communications to that person, you’ll attract others like them.

    Demographics are cool for ad sales and research. But communications get stronger when you focus on real people.

    Thanks for the post. John’s book is on the list. =)

    1. Excellent point, Dave. In fact, John suggests posting a photo in your office of the real person that embodies your ideal customer. I think you can start with that real person, but you still need to break the profile out into demographics and psychographics to get a clear picture of the qualities that make them ideal for your organization.

  2. I think demographics are both a help and a Dave says, using demographics alone gets in the way of thinking of a live per song. They have interests and behaviors, clubs and groups, which I think are more indicative of how you can reach out and touch them.

  3. Another great post Amy! Too many times people say their demographic is everyone and it’s not possible. You may accept everyone through your doors, but no one has the time or energy to market to everyone. These specific tips help you focus your energy. I love the idea of focusing the marketing not just on a demographic, but to a specific person or type of person. With the proper techniques, you will definitely attract that person and their friends.

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