Learn Audience Targeting Singing Stars in the Movies

This is a guest post by Design Pickle. Enjoy!


Design Pickle on a rock tour means we have music on the brain these days. Which is great, because the music industry serves up a multitude of lessons marketers can use to improve their business. Today we explore audience targeting – what it looks like when it’s done well, different approaches to targeting, and even how not to do it. The music industry provides us a fantastic setting, specifically movies about music, to see these targeting lessons in action. Let’s rock!

Target Practice

Remember the movie “La Bamba” with Lou Diamond Philips playing Richie Valens? Of course you do. Remember the scene in the movie where Richie and his band are playing at a venue…behind a fence…getting beer bottles thrown at them…obviously in the wrong place? Let’s start there with the perfect example of INaccurate audience targeting.

Everything was wrong with Richie and his crew playing at that venue – most notably the music, and their ethnicity. In this case the band is actually playing at a different venue than the one they are scheduled to be at – so literally the wrong venue. And the wrong venue produced the wrong audience.

Therein lies the lesson. Doing the research, positioning yourself in the right venue, and accurately targeting your audience is incredibly important. No one wants to show up in the wrong place and have to dodge beer bottles from behind a fence, after all.

Fill the Hole

“Straight Outta Compton” took the box office by storm in 2016, telling the story of NWA, the beginnings of what we recognize as rap music today, and the career-launching success of Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy E, and others in the game.

As we see in the movie it all started with Dre spinning forbidden tracks in the clubs where he MCed. Even though the club owner warned him not to play rap, Dre knew the tracks he had, paired with Ice Cube’s verses would bring the house down. So he played them anyway…and almost got fired for it! But he was right – the audience LOVED the music.

The rise to success for NWA was rocket fast as soon as their recordings were released, and they were not the least bit surprised. They knew they had identified a hole in the marketplace and created a product to fill it. NWA discovered an audience that wanted a specific product no one else was bold enough to make. We all know what happened from here.

Be So Good You Start at the Top

Let’s switch gears in every way and take a peek at a fictional pop group called The Wonders, depicted in the movie “That Thing You Do.” The Wonders were so good at targeting the appropriate audience it only took one song release for them to get to #1.

Sounds like a fluke, right? The truth is artists and business folks do it all the time – they somehow embody the Steve Martin expression “be so good they can’t ignore you.” You know how they do it? The same way you can do it too – by selling a quality product that people need, and launching it with excellent planning, the support of quality content, and maybe a pre-sale. There’s no reason you can’t replicate this and find success with your first launch out of the gates too!

Customer Service FTW

In “Walk the Line” we get to know Johnny Cash a little bit better. Throughout the story we learn how well Johnny knew his audience and was willing to do anything for them – from giving up his future with his family, to the point he wanted to go perform in Fulsom Prison.

Johnny Cash was certainly committed. And when it came to serving his customers, he “got it.” Johnny didn’t get paid to perform in Fulsom (granted, he cut a live album there that made him millions, but I digress), it was a service he wanted to provide for his fans. He met them where they were and gave them the experience of a lifetime, even though their need was the greatest.

Your target audience will fall on a spectrum of customer service need, and if you’d like to keep them in your audience you need to have a willingness to the provide them the service necessary to use your product effectively. Meet your audience where they are with messaging and quality support materials for your customer service efforts to ensure that no matter where a customer falls on the service spectrum, you can provide the help they need.

Build Trust

“Rock Star” is a movie about a fictional hair band that stars Mark Wahlberg in the lead role. In “Rock Star” the band Steel Dragon had their audience pegged so well it didn’t even matter who the lead singer was, the audience still went nuts for the music.

See what I mean?

Talk about building trust! As long as the music sounded the way it was supposed to Steel Dragon fans were fine with whatever was happening within the band, and didn’t care enough to stop supporting the group if they changed lead singers a few times.

Don’t take this as free license to change whatever whenever, because building that kind of trust takes time. But rest assured that you have earned some latitude with the core audience of rabid fans you have invested time into targeting oh-so-well, and they will tolerate you making some changes.

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