Rule #2: You Can’t Invite Everyone to the Wedding

Target a specific audience

Segmenting a large market into identifiable subset groups

Market segmentation is a strategy that involves defining and dividing a broad audience into clearly identifiable subset groups with similar needs and priorities (Business Dictionary, n.d.). The most common segmentation strategies are based on geographic, demographic, psychographic, and behavioural differences.

Geographic segmentation is based on differences in where an individual lives.

Demographic segmentation is based on differences in people’s vital statistics. These include factors such as age, gender, income, education, citizenship, or family size (Community Tool Box, 2013).

Psychographic segmentation is based on  deeper consumer insights such as values and morals, political views, or attitudes towards particular subjects such as environmental issues, education, government, or parenting (Community Tool Box, 2013).

Behavioural segmentation is based on the differences in the consumption behaviour of different groups of consumers, taking into account their lifestyles, patterns of buying and using, patterns of spending money and time, and similar factors (Business Dictionary, n.d.).

Targeting a specific audience can have more of an impact and be less resource intensive

To successfully implement a social marketing campaign, you must identify a specific audience.  Catering to a specific audience will allow you to allocate resources more efficiently (Community Toolbox, 2013; Taylor, 2011).  In addition, the research conducted in order to determine your target audience may provide valuable insight as to how to improve your social marketing campaign (Marketance, n.d). For instance, you might identify your audience’s motivations and barriers to change, and be able to design your campaign to avoid or eliminate these particular barriers.  Finally you may find that penetrating your target market will build a stronger referral base (Taylor, 2011).

Gather existing data and segment the market accordingly

Tip#1: Gather information on the market

There are many resources you can use to ensure your social marketing campaign targets a suitable audience.  If targeting your own community, you can use your own knowledge to help you choose a target market. Looking at previous campaigns are also a good tool. You can look at campaigns with similar target markets, similar geographic regions and similar goals to get a picture of what may be successful or unsuccessful in your campaign. To further support your findings, you can utilize publicly available government data such as the Canadian Census Profile, or use Environics Analytics Prizm Lifestyle look-up to determine attitudes in any Canadian postal code. You can also review local governmental statements, local newspapers, or minutes from Town Hall meetings.

Tip#2: Define your target market, consider easily accessible individuals

Once you have gathered data you can define your target market. Choose a specific geographic, demographic and behavioural profile. Simultaneously, consider the psychographics of your target.

You should also consider targeting individuals that are better positioned to engage in a behavioural change.  It is estimated that habits make up 45% of the choices we make every day and when we do these daily tasks, our brains go on auto-pilot (Duhigg, 2012). Therefore it is difficult to break these habits. However if you focus on people going through major life transitions then it is easier to get them to change behaviours (Duhigg, 2013). For instance, target new homeowners  for transportation behaviour changes.

Tip#3: Test your target market

Once you have chosen your target market, you should ask these questions to test if it is a good choice: :

  • Are there enough people that fit my criteria? (Porta, 2010)
  • Will my target really benefit from our campaign? Will they see a need for it? (Porta, 2010)
  • Do I understand what drives my target to make decisions? (Porta, 2010)
  • Will my target face substantial barriers?
  • Can I reach them with my message? Are they easily accessible? (Porta, 2010)

If “no” is your response to these questions it may be necessary to re-determine your target audience, or how you are reaching them.

Ex#1: Rethink Breast Cancer- targeting young women with hot men

Previously, Breast Cancer Awareness was focused on communicating with an older audience. Although there are fewer young people diagnosed with Breast Cancer, the social challenges are much greater, and the survival rates are lower, so the Rethink Breast Cancer campaign shifted their target audience. They now focus on getting the message out to “young women aged 25-40” who are “media savvy, highly interactive and culturally aware” they are a “fresh, vibrant and racy audience” who were not being reached with the previous marketing approach (Rethink Breast Cancer, 2010) . In order to engage these women in early detection of breast cancer, Rethink introduced Your Man Reminder, a free app that provides regular or random reminders for women to check their breasts for early cancer detection (Rethink Breast Cancer, 2013). The app allows the individual to choose from a selection of attractive, shirtless men that assist in reminding the user to do a self-breast examination. The app strongly appeals to the users interests, while providing the user with useful information on how to properly check their breasts for early signs of cancer (Rethink Breast Cancer, 2013). Instead of a one-size-fits-all breast cancer support group, Rethink offers age-appropriate, lifestyle-tailored support for young women and their families.

 So remember: target a specific audience

To implement a successful social marketing campaign, you must segment the broad market into an identifiable subset group.  A campaign that can speak directly to its audience will have a stronger impact and be less resource intensive than trying to reach the general public. To select a specific audience, you must first gather data from personal and community resources.  Then you can choose geographic, demographic, psychographic, and behavioural characteristics, which will result in a specific audience.  By doing so, you will be able to tailor your campaign around your audience’s motivations and limitations.



Community Tool Box. (2013). Segmenting the market to reach the targeted population. Work Group for Community Help and Development: University of Kansas. Retrieved from

Business Dictionary. (n.d.)

Duhigg, C. (2012, February).  How companies learn your secrets. Retrieved from

Taylor, I.(2011). 5 Short and Sweet Reasons to Target a Specific Audience. Retrieved from QuestionPro Blog

Rethink Breast Cancer. (2013). About Rethink. Retrieved from Rethink Breast Cancer

Rethink Breast Cancer. (2010). Rethink Breast Cancer Sponsorship Package. Retrieved from

Porta, M. (2013). How to Define Your Target Market. Retrieved from INC

Marketance. (n.d). How to use Psychographics to improve Demographic market segmentation. Retrieved from Marketance

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