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From Vanity To Sanity: Why Audience Matters

Once upon a time, a famous gin brand launched a London-only marketing campaign. It was so successful that they reached half the population of the entire world.

Sound too good to be true? 

Of course it was. 

But did the reach and impression numbers support that claim? Via a campaign that focused only on a city of 9 million people?

Of course they did.

Which is why vanity metrics are such a dangerous thing. 

So, how do you distinguish between vanity and sanity?


And to bring that to life, let’s continue with this campaign.

The difference between vanity and sanity

Vanity is saying you’ve reached 1 billion people thanks to ten pieces of PR coverage.

Sanity is saying you’ve reached your target audience 2.2 times with at least two key messages.

So, how do you get from vanity to sanity? That’s where research comes in.

It All Starts with Audience 

It all begins with identifying your target audience: who are the people whose hearts and minds you’re trying to change? Start by gathering all the potential buyers of your category then, using your research, segment them into distinct groups based on their attitudes towards the category: Do they buy? Why do they buy? When do they buy? Who do they buy with? In what context? And so on.

Then ask yourself: what can you uniquely offer that no-one else can? And pick the segment/s where this will resonate the most.

That’s your target audience. Now, armed with your data, you can look at their media consumption: how do you reach them where they already are? A good audience intelligence tool will tell you exactly how many people from your target audience engage with a particular media outlet, follow certain topics on social, interact with certain influencers, and more.

Not only will this inform your outreach strategy but then, when you get featured in those media outlets, that means you can confidently say you reached 69,775 members of your target audience instead of 16,000,000 people.

The Case For Context

Reach isn’t the only vanity metric, nor is measuring reach always an exercise in vanity. 

Likes, clicks, even web traffic are all vanity metrics unless you have context. And that context comes from knowing that you’ve reached your target audience effectively with your campaign messages. If you have, that's when you should be looking for correlations and causations with social media engagement, web traffic, purchases and so on (and having access to a dashboard that pulls all this data into one place makes this exercise a lot easier!)"

But let’s say you’re not selling gin, you’re seeking to improve a brand’s reputation. The same rules apply: start by identifying your audience, because without this step you’re essentially throwing spaghetti at a wall. Then, use your understanding of your audiences habits, trends and decision making traits to make sure you can back up that you’re reaching them with your key messages; and survey your audience on a regular basis to measure their feeling towards your brand, to prove if those messages are really cutting through.

So if you really want to know:

  1.       How you should be spending your marketing budget
  2.       And how effective that spend is

Audience matters.


Photo by Miguel Henriques on Unsplash


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