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  • Writer's pictureDan White


A black and white image of the backs of several hundred people's heads who are watching an event to represent how audiences are similar and different to one another when creating audience personas.

Some clients want to be the best fitness professionals in their industry. Others want to dominate the UK cushion market. Others have a life long desire to tell people about pensions. We’re all beautifully random.

Different industries. Different possibilities and most importantly - different audiences.

When it comes to working with clients I make a point of spending the time working out with clients as to who their audiences are. It forms a cornerstone of everything else we do. But if I ask you who your audience is the answer is not “Everyone.” It really isn’t.



Everyone is the sum total of the human population. 7.7 billion people. And I can assure you that no product or no service that is ever made is going to have such universal appeal.

Granted people don’t often think of ‘everyone’ like that. But even if you zoom down onto the more macro levels of language groups or nations you still can’t find an everyone. Even if you look at the numbers of avid fans from the likes of Apple, of Microsoft, Coke or Nike.

Zoom in a little further on the UK. How many brands, people, products or things have a national awareness that reaches all 65 million of us? The only things I could come up with were the tea, or Brexit.

Your ‘everyone’ is not everyone.

(If you don’t know who your audience is then the data for your website from Google Search Console and Google Analytics is a fine place to start. Not sure how to do this? Then hire me as your SEO consultant)



It’s likely that your organisation falls at this point into 1 of 2 options:

Option 1: You lucky people have a large organisation which genuinely has a broad audience, crossing generational and geographic divides like it’s nobody’s business. Think the NHS, train operators or Bake Off

Option 2: You have a small defined audience. It’s just that you just might not see it as such



Option 1’s are faced with the challenge of appealing to ‘everyone’ which can all too often lead to appealing to no one.

It’s a hard balance but often you see is marketing which means whatever your website, your social media or your emails actually say, it’s a bland consensus driven average. Marketing’s answer to beige.

Making marketing for the masses means investing huge budgets, time and resource into something. Yet, it’s the same mass marketing which can be far more expensive and far less effective than if you isolated your marketing to the people that matter.


Finding the people that matter is often a technical data driven exercise to segment your audiences; breaking out your ‘everyone’ into its constituent parts. Instead of mass marketing in a single campaign you can invest your efforts identifying among your everyone people who are:

  • Non-customers – those who aren’t buying or engaging with you as much as others

  • Customers - Working at getting those already into you to be a little more into you to build closer relationships to turn them into better customers, or alternatively…

  • Advocates – working with groups and other collectives to help spread the word about what you do a little further

TV advertising provides some ripe examples of big organisations zeroing onto different parts of their audience.

Nike doing an incredible job at speaking to city folk

Weetabix reworking their products and marketing angle trying to reach young professionals

Halifax playing on 1980’s nostalgia to promote contactless cards


Achieving the above is downright hard. Running slick campaigns simultaneously to different audiences with relevant, finger on the pulse content which screams ‘We get YOU’ styled creative requires big budgets and a multi-talented skillset which many marketing departments just don’t have. But everyone still shouldn’t equal average.


Being faced with this particular challenge doesn’t mean producing marketing which is so bland and innocuous it becomes the digital marketing equivalent of Coldplay.

There’s still no doubt going to be occasions where you really need to run a campaign which targets everyone. I think that the solution is to pick a personality – any personality and run with it. Easier said than done granted. Personality is partly borne from defined business visions and a permissive company culture which allows marketers to stray into the realms of creativity.

Marketers seem spooked at the prospect of mass marketing, so for what I can only think is a fear of failure. I find this often means the majority of marketing which is produced is so bland. Emojis are out. Full punctuation is in. Caution prevails.

But for whatever business – big or small, there is going to be a universal element which defines what you do and resonates with your everyone. This in itself is a topic far larger than I can cover but if you’re going to read anything more after this then make it The Moment of Clarity: Using the Human Sciences to Solve Your Toughest Business Problems by Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel Rasmussen.

Some awesome huge audience campaigns which needed to appeal to everyone but till packed in the personality include:



Even option 2’s, often the small business think they appeal to everyone up and down the land, but dig a little deeper and actually their understanding of everyone is a micro, super specific audience. It’s just that the people you’re speaking to are so involved the wood and the trees merge into one. Their everyone is only in their reality, everyone.

If you’re a business owner then it’s likely you have this your DNA. Often SME’s are born from a person’s passion and so they speak the language of their audience. They can tell you about the latest industry updates and talk at effortless length about the intricacies of what they do, but what if your marketing something which you haven’t been around something since birth?


As marketers we have the conundrum of joining businesses with no knowledge (or potentially passion) for the thing we’re there to market. Or if you work for an agency you have this challenge time and again every time a new client is allocated to you).

As a digital marketing consultant in the last year I’ve needed to get my head around services and products as varied as marketing postgraduate degree programmes in China, appealing to Occupational Therapists in the UK and newly engaged couples looking for luxury weddings in Scotland. Do I know anything about any of them? No. Am I passionate about them? Not naturally; but I try to be.

The trouble is breaking down the barriers and trying to quickly understand what everyone else in the business knows – all except you. All with the intention of being able to create marketing which speaks to your audience.


Thankfully smaller defined organisations have the advantage that they don’t have to ruthlessly segment their audiences into dozens of defined groups. Often there’s 1 core group of customers and maybe a few more around the periphery.

Understanding this can be for your own benefit, or it can be for the purposes of the creation of audience personas. Either way there’s two caverns of information which you can mine for details.

Data – Everything from Google Analytics to sales records will show you the basic facts. Who is buying, where they’re from. How much. When. But it won’t show you why they buy from you or use your services.

People – Speaking to the business owner, the customer services team, new customers, old customers, customers who leave and customers who stay. Having meaningful conversations with all these people can help you to understand who this everyone is so you can understand.

The result? Personality which works.

There’s dozens of small scale organisations with limited budgets that have seriously good marketing because it resonates – because what they marketing they produce, and the context within which they do resonates. Examples include:

The Museum of English Rural Life on Twitter – Making the topic of agricultural history fun with hitting upon the idea of their Absolute Unit and realising sarcasm and discussions of relevant events can broadcast their message far more effectively on Twitter.

River Pools – Take swimming pools. The perfect example of a content marketing campaign from Marcus Sheridan which truly understands the needs, frustrations and questions of people looking to buy a pool.

Bott Smartvan– putting their technical know how into digital, the Cornwall based company, Bott, have created a full tool for people to fully customise the insides of their vans – whatever their trade.

All of those examples have only come from a thorough understanding of the audience.


Sometimes this level of understanding can take months, if not years, but understanding your everyone doesn’t just come from diffusion, slowly being exposed to your customers and through a mixture of trial and error you begin to align your efforts to creating something which works.

Understanding what resonates and what doesn’t is a skill which can be learnt and applied to accelerate that understanding – so that whether you have to produce something which appears to everyone in country, or a micro-niche of a handful of individuals you can produce something which works.


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