Why “Everyone” Sucks As A Local Business Target

If a client ever tells you “Everyone” is a target customer, tell them about John Grisham.

Everyone is not a marketing target

Photo by alphaspirit

 As 2016 came to a close, Grisham’s thriller The Whistler was the #1 hardcover fiction book in the United States.

So when Grisham tells an interviewer he has a particular target in mind when he writes, marketers should take notice. Here’s his take, according to the New York Times:

“First of all, she’s female, because two-thirds of all books are bought by women. She’s going to buy it during the Christmas season, because 35 percent of all books are sold during the Christmas season. I would guess she’s probably going to be over 40, because they buy more books than under 40. And that kind of narrows it down. That’s probably my typical reader.”  

Grisham sells a whole lot of books to a whole lot of people. But he recognizes that some people are more likely to buy than others. So he writes with a woman over 40 in mind, and often releases his books in the fall.

Too often, advertisers either don’t bother to focus on a target, or they choose to focus on the wrong target. As you work to craft campaigns for your advertisers, take a lesson from John Grisham: it pays to aim the message at the people who are most likely to act on it.


Aesthetic Medicine Practices

I have met with a lot of clinics that offer Botox and other injectibles, fillers, hair removal treatment, and other elective procedures. Every one of them has told me that 85-90% of their patients are female.

But some of them devote a significant portion of their budgets to an effort to attract men.  In their minds, it makes sense to grow an under-served population. The problem with this is that men, as a group, are much less likely to walk into their waiting room.

In fact, the owner of one clinic told me she’d had to establish a separate, unmarked exit because men didn’t want to be seen at a practice like hers.

Meanwhile, she said, women bring their friends.

If a dollar aimed at women is 8 times (or more!) as likely to work as a dollar aimed at men, why aim precious dollars at men?


Motorcycle ridership among women is growing. According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, as of 2014 the percentage of motorcycles owned by women had doubled during the previous ten years. 

If you’re a motorcycle dealer thinking of going after the female market, that’s good news.

But here’s the flip side of the argument: after doubling, the percentage of motorcycles owned by women was…14 percent.

If you’re working with a motorcycle dealer to choose a target, a starting point for the conversation is that, based on national statistics, a dollar aimed at men is six times as likely to bring in a buyer as a dollar aimed at women. 

If the percentage of women doubles again in the next decade, over 70% of the market will still be male.

What about age? 

The average age of motorcycle owners has climbed to 48, with Baby Boomers outnumbering Millennials 4 to 1. 

If you win…what’s the prize?” — Jim Doyle

The motorcycle industry and some manufacturers are working to broaden ridership, and can afford to take the long view.

But for a dealer who needs a return on their advertising investment this year, older is likely to outperform younger, and aiming the message at men will generate significantly more traffic than going after women.

Three Ways to Help Your Clients Pick a Target

  1. Ask.Really. Some clients have never thought about it.Two questions I ask all the time are: “On a day to day basis, do you see more women than men, or more men than women?” and “If you had to choose a 15-year age spread that’s really the core of your business, where would you put it?
  2. Your station or company’s research department may have national or local statistics for a category. Trade groups like the Radio Advertising Burea also have industry demographics.
  3. Google “[name of category] demographics” and “[name of category] trends”, and you’ll find at least the beginnings of a story.  I got the information on motorcycles by Googling “motorcycle demographics” and “percentage of women who own motorcycles.”

Could the advertiser try to attract a different kind of customer? Sure, but it is extremely expensive to try to change the the market.

Seth Godin puts it this way:

Alerting a market segment that isn’t looking is a thousand times harder than activating a segment that just can’t wait for your arrival. 

The fastest and cheapest way for a business to grow is to find more customers who look like, act like, sound like, think like, and spend like the people who are already spending money with them. 

Don’t try to change the parade. Help your client figure out what direction the parade’s heading, and then get in front.


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