Target audience is Job 1

It all begins with the target audience and what action or outcome we are trying to achieve. You wouldn’t dream about planning a sales call unless you knew whom you were going to meet and what you were trying to accomplish. Simple, right? So why do so many direct marketing projects start with something like:

“On this project I would really like to use that new fold-over post card design you showed me a few weeks ago.”

“Can we use some of the photos left over from the newsletter we did last month?”

“So what you got for me? What’s new? I need something really clever for our March Promotion.”

Now, we live in a world of don’t waste my time and immediate results, but if we haven’t defined our target audience and a measurable outcome, we’ve got virtually no shot at consistent success. There is no magic bullet, no technological gimmickry which will overcome a poorly defined target. Here is a sample of a target/outcome scenario we recently helped define:

  • Five mile radius of retail center, 40k household income combined with a current customer list, hoping to achieve a 2% measurable response rate.


Segment the target

Once the general target is defined a second question should at least be considered. Within the target audience, do we have different segments that deserve a different message? Again, if you thing about the sales call scenario, you have two clients to see this afternoon. First client demands first rate quality, and impeccable service while second demands the lowest cost as the top priority. Your message will be different to each client. A successful sale means tailoring the right message to the right client. No different for a direct marketing campaign.


The following list segments into 3 separate groups:

Segment Description Strategy Detail
Current Customer Referral The customer receives a loyalty message to receive 15% total savings when they bring a friend on their next visit.
Prospect > $75k Income Large order discount The higher income prospect receives a 15% savings storewide if they spend at least $200.
Prospect < $75k Income Fill idle capacity The lower income prospect receives free gift if they come to the store on Tuesday


Three segments, three tailored messages, each easily tracked for effectiveness.