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Your Target Demographic: Not a Number

| July 23, 2012

By Holland Cooke
News/Talk Specialist

BLOCK ISLAND, RI – FAQ from talk talent: “What’s our target demographic?”

Two-part answer:

1. NOT 25-54.  Recently-published Nielsen data affirms what you may have suspected all-along: The vaunted 25-54 demo is malarkey:

• Although only 5% of ad dollars are aimed at ‘em, 35-64 accounts for half of product purchases.

• Baby Boomers – 80 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 — account for roughly half of all packaged-good sales, almost $230 billion.  In five years, they’ll control 70% of the USA’s disposable income.

2. If you’re thinking numbers, you’re overthinking it.

Want to make sales very happy?  (NOT a trick question.)

Cut through the clutter and seem “remarkable” to people who have children, of any age, still living at home.

a) That mental clutter is dang near hip-deep.  Assume your listener is 10 minutes late and hearing every third word.  Cut to the chase and get to the phones.

b) Why people with children: They’re retail consumption MACHINES…the cars retail advertisers want to see pull into the parking lot.  And that Nielsen intel’ affirms the value of resonating with Boomers too, young grandparents now; many of whom are newly-monied by inheritance as their Greatest Gen’ parents pass on.  Which is why I wince when I hear well-intentioned programmers speak of “younging the station.”

c) What I mean by “remarkable”: not “miraculous.”  I mean that your work would cause the aforementioned people to…remark.  Example: “Hmmm!” as the listener turns up the volume.  That “Hmmm!” is a receipt for the deposit you just made in his/her memory bank.  And that deposit pays dividends whether you’re in a diary market (where ratings are a memory test) or PPM-land (where awareness drives use).  And even if your station doesn’t subscribe to ratings, some of those remarks are shared over lunch, real valuable cume promotion.

Accordingly: OBSESS over relevance.  Know these people, tee up “survival information” and issues tangible to them, and get to the phones.  Media consumption habits of the target listener I’ve profiled favor interactive media and shun blah-blah-blah.  Callers call when they hear other callers, and sounding popular will extend TSL and impress advertisers.

Said another way: Think twice about typecasting yourself as talk radio’s small, same-old-same-old caricature.  Note how PPM punishes talkers whose lengthy “I,” “I,” “I”-laden monologues about the politics and the excruciating minutia of government process topics which were confined to the Sunday morning public affairs ghetto, back when many stations’ ratings were higher.


See/hear/read more from consultant Holland Cooke at; and follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke.

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Category: Opinions