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Target Audience: A Single Question to Help You Find, Market, and Sell to Your Ideal Customer

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I watched the new Steve Jobs movie last week.

Spoiler: he invents the iMac.

The point of the flick: paint a portrait of the guy that created the iPod, the round, partially-translucent, magenta colored desktop computer, and giant smartphones called iPads.

It seems the writer-director combo decided the best way to do this would be to time-travel the viewer to three (maybe four, I lost count) separate moments right before Jobs was about to go on stage to share his latest brain-melting gadget.

Without fail, each pre-stage moment is full of last minute technical issues, conversations with the mother of his child whom he denied for years was his own, and employee/coworker-Jobs conflict (the same employees and coworkers each time…before every major launch…launches that are years apart from one another…).

While the story structure was admirable, I couldn’t help but feel like sometimes I was watching a Birdman-esque comedy, not a memoir-drama (I mean, there had to be a better time to discuss paternity tests, or challenge the CEO’s leadership style than right before he goes on stage every year, right?).

Anyway, this got me thinking about the concept of “target audience” – the people for whom you make your product, art, or writing.

Two questions came to mind:

  • “who is this movie for?”
  • “who did Jobs build his products for” (in real life)

The answer to the first question is die-hard Apple fans, as far as I can tell

The answer to the second question? Steve Jobs built the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad for people who:

1. want to be seen with the product in their hands (they want the status symbol)

2. who can afford to buy the product (they have wealth)

3. who do buy the product (they take action)

The third point here is key.

You see, it doesn’t matter if Jobs only accomplished 1 and 2 above. That’s all well and good, but that just puts it in the same category as every other high-end consumer product that doesn’t sell and fails (like Apple’s own Newton).

Where Jobs excelled was getting people to do number 3: buy his product.

He was a master salesman for the upper and middle-upper-class (and their kids).

  • This was the audience for whom he created.
  • These were the people who bought his products (and passionately spread the word about every new product).
  • This was the target audience that ultimately dictated every product he launched.

As a result, Apple is now the most profitable company in the world.

And according to the movie, that’s not an accident. It was by design.

Steve knew who he wanted to be known by: the people who would put money in his hands for the work he did.

And just as crucially: he never catered to anyone else.

(there’s a reason the company is the most profitable…and it has everything to do with why most of the world operates on hardware and operating systems not produced by Apple)

The Most Important Question:

Who do you want to be known by?

This is not a rhetorical question. And if the answer is everyone, you’re off to a bad start.

Defining, finding, and getting in front of a specific group of people who are willing to pay for your products and services is the only way to get traction in business; it’s the only way to develop systems and processes that can scale; it’s the only way to build profitability.

Who do you want to be known by?

This is the question that will help you define your target audience; this is the question that will help you find your first 1,000 true fans in a specific, well-paying niche; this is the question that will help you become the best in the world at what you do.

Who do you want to be known by?

This is the most important question – everything else is secondary.

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8 comments

  • When I created my website, I wanted to be known by English speakers who want to learn French, but I suspect this is too large.

    So now I want to be known by English speakers who want to learn conversational French at a beginner to intermediate level and are ready to work to make that happen.

  • I want to be known by people who already know they are ‘enough’ and want to expand upon that. In addition, I want my books to be available to those in half-way houses, shelters, and prisons to be used as a boost to their mindset.

    • Love it Virginia. An important thing to recognize here is that this is a very niche demographic, so most people won’t be interested. Next step – finding how to connect with these people / outlets to share your book.

  • I totally agree – getting clear about this made writing my book so much easier. I have seen so many try to be all things to all people and it dilutes their message.

  • Hi Tom, love to answer this question: Who do I want to be know by?

    I want to be known by the shy, insecure health-conscious woman who deeply desires a superior level of health and wellbeing, and express their reals selfs with inner self-confidence and pride. To be their mentor, friend and coach who will empower, motivate and guide them to become a healthier, happier and confident woman.

    My target-audience are specifically the shy, insecure health-conscious women who are:

    1) Highly motivated and eager to transform their health and wellbeing

    2) Eager and motivated to take the necessary action to become who they desire, a healthier, happier and confident woman.

    3) Who can afford to pay for the coaching and tools I provide to help them achieve this.

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