In marketing, you often hear the term ‘demographics’.  Which simply defines a group of people who share certain characteristics in common.

Typically, characteristics such as . . . age / gender / geography / occupation / etc. are used to define a demographic — e.g. “female veterinarians, age 30 or above, in the counties of . . . , who subscribe to Veterinary Economics . . . etc.”.  That . . . is a demographic or ‘target audience’.

The problem is, while a demographic profile or target audience is a ‘good start’, it is NOT enough!

Once you develop your demographic profile, you have defined a target audience.  To be useful in your marketing, you must further refine your ‘audience’ into a ‘profile’.

Target Audience or Target Profile — What’s the Difference?

There’s a BIG difference!

A target audience is a GROUP of people who share characteristics in common — as suggested by your demographic profile.

A target profile is a SPECIFIC individual in that audience you’ve just defined.


So what . . .

is the value in distinguishing a single individual from a group of people who share the same characteristic?  Aren’t they the same thing?

No.  No, they’re not!

Here’s an example: “Women who use cosmetics”.  That’s a very large group (audience) of people, isn’t it?  You could further refine this broadly defined audience by limiting your audience by geography (“In the US” or “In Canada”, etc.) or age (“18 – 25”, etc.) or occupation (“CPA’s”, “Executives” etc.).

But even if you didn’t, there is at least one (and doubtless, more than one!) person who fits the audience definition “Women who use cosmetics” who also prefers to purchase and use cosmetics that have not subjected live animals to harsh chemical testing during the development of the cosmetics she buys.


When crafting a message to attract the attention of women in this target audience, you could extol the benefits of using the cosmetics you offer. But, isn’t that what every other cosmetics maker could say?  So what makes you different and better?

Well,if you wanted to ‘stand out’ from the pack of all the “Me-Too” advertising, you could focus on one ‘issue’ that matters most to a certain sub-segment of this audience — ‘women who prefer to buy cosmetics that have not been tested on live animals’.  (NOTE: there are many ‘issues’ that would help you refine a general audience into a more specific profile . . . but I’m just using this one for this post — any others would be equally valid and effective!)

Suddenly, you’re appealing to a much smaller audience of prospects, aren’t you?

And, because of your unique and beneficial focus — appealing to women who buy cosmetics that do not test cosmetics on live animals — you’re actually more appealing to the specific kind of person you want to attract than the ‘generic’ messaging that other cosmetic companies are likely to produce.

Want proof?  Anita Roddick.  She’s the lady in the UK who founded The Body Shop back in 1976.  She knew there was an audience of ‘women who use cosmetics’.  So did every other cosmetics company!  But Anita also knew there was a profile of ‘women who use cosmetics AND prefer to use cosmetics that have not been developed by testing them on animals’.

Once that profile was understood, Anita’s competitive appeal, relative to her undifferentiated competitors, was significant and undefeatable.

I like to say that you want to, “become a special body to a special group of bodies”. Anita did just that. And, she sold her ‘not-tested-on-live-animals’ cosmetics to enough women — that, in 2006 L’Oreal purchased The Body Shop for over a billion dollars.

The More You Focus, The More You Appeal

There’s a funny thing about ‘focus’ in marketing.  The more specific you are in terms of who you want as a customer or client, the more effective your messaging and marketing is going to be.

Now, as long as the people who fit your target profile are adequate in number to meet your revenue goals, the specificity of your message to them will make you more attractive and your marketing messages more response-able than anything most of your competitors are doing.

Won’t that be nice!


You start with a target audience, you then refine that to a target profile. When you do, your messaging becomes more appealing and your marketing becomes much, much better.

In The Marketing Club™, we talk about knowing your VALUE PROPOSITION.

That’s what makes a prospect willing to pay you for the ‘beneficial difference’ you create in their life or business.

Seth Godin, blogs about three (3) ways to create ‘value’ that will always cause you to be employed.

He suggests the following:

  1. generate sales
  2. add value
  3. initiate constructive action

Revenue creators are financial necessities.  If you generate more than you cost a client, you’re going to be attractive to a prospect!

Value Adders — adding value to processes, people, systems, etc. that generates revenues and profits by increasing efficiency or effectiveness (net of your cost) is always in fashion.

Activity Initiators — being able to start any activity that no one else is doing but will add value to an organization . . . will make you pretty attractive, too.

When YOU think of what you offer your clients . . . which of these three ways to ‘add value’ and, therefore be attractive . . . are you offering your prospects and existing clients?

Makes you think, doesn’t it?


Is your value proposition designed to communicate what you do for a client in one or more of these three ways?

Do you communicate effectively?

How would you know? Probably by the response your reader or listener gives you after you give your message.

So, I ask again, “Do you communicate effectively?” If not, do better.

One key to that end which brilliant communicators like Seth Godin and Steve Jobs have honed to an artform is to be surgically concise.

Another key is to use visual information as much as possible. Afterall, who says, “Gee, I remember your name but I forgot your face!”.

We’re visual beings. We first process reality visually then we ‘process’ it into an abstract verbal understanding. So why make ‘getting’ a message harder than necessary?

Here’s a good example of a master presenter in action:


Communication is an artform. Effective communication combines:

  1. the simplicity of your message with
  2. a visual rendering of it whenever possible

Advertising has been a one-way conversation for a long, long time.

As this video shows, somewhat sarcastically, that’s not cutting it anymore.  Well, not with members of your target market.

After you stop laughing, ask yourself . . . “Is this possibly what MY firm is doing?”

Intentional or not, it’s far too common.

You want to have a TWO-way dialogue not a one-way shouting match with prospects.

They have alternatives . . . do you?

I was on a telecall last week sponsored by my good friend, Carl Utter, President of The Training Group in the Philadelphia, PA area.

During the introductions of who was joining us on the telecall, a client of Carl’s mentioned that he worked with “NFL players” and that he was a financial advisor.

My ears perked up!  Here’s why . . .

Just recently, I was talking to someone else and she told me that she wanted to work with . . . “Professional Athletes”.

In that moment, I was able to make a key connection — that’s subsequently lead to a preferred introduction between my friend and Carl and, I hope, that will lead to a preferred introduction to his client, Fred . . . yep, the one who works with NFL players.

When you’re talking with people, make sure they know WHO you can be of service to . . . and make sure they will know WHAT constitutes a ‘person-of-interest’ to you . . . when they come into proximity of one!  If you don’t . . . you may miss out on some opportunities that you won’t want to miss!


If you’ve been in business any amount of time you’ve undoubtedly been exposed to what is euphemistically known as . . . the ‘Elevator Pitch’.


That’s your brief response to a stranger who asks, “What do you do?”

Ideally, your pitch or ‘Talking Logo’ is short, sweet and likely to cause a qualified person to then say something akin to, “Really?  THAT is what you do?  Fascinating! . . . Tell me more!”

In common practice, you follow a simple formula such as:

  1. Target Market . . . e.g. “I help _______________”
  2. Meaningful Outcome . . . e.g. “to stop having to . . .” or, “to be able to . . .”
  3. Resource . . . e.g. “By means of my . . .”

If the person doesn’t ‘bite’ on what you’ve said in the first two steps, they’re not qualified and you don’t ever have to share what you have to say in step 3 because, well . . . there’s no reason to do so, is there?

Sometimes, you’ll want to give a little longer explanation of what you do.  And that brings me to the real subject of this post.

Beyond The Basics

OK, now just for fun, I’d like to introduce you to Karrie Kohlhaas.  Karrie is the founder of Thoughtshot Consulting in Seattle, WA.

I had the pleasure of meeting her on a social network for businesspeople called (definitely check it out!).

Below is what Karrie has on her profile and boy does it address the question, “What do you do?”.  What I’d like you to notice though is just how powerful her words are . . . they are clear, concise and paint vivid images for anyone who hears them. See for yourself.  Picture Karrie standing at a business meeting and delivering the following message to ‘introduce’ herself to the room:

I blast through barriers with independent business owners, streamlining their growth so they can move faster and easier. I work with clients to create structures and systems that cause a shift from overwhelm to profit, from scrambling to strategy. The work is unorthodox and the results are dramatic. Clients who work with me consistently report their highest income levels to date.

My background, providing cutting-edge consulting to Fortune 500 companies, translates into keen insights for business development, strategy, organization, marketing, branding and growth.

If you have a business you want to grow or an idea for a business you want to start, I’d love to hear from you. I am not a cookie cutter consultant, nor a feel-good coach. I combine cultural anthropology, brain studies and business and my commitment is that my clients produce tangible results.

If you’d like to know more about Karrie, here’s her website:

WOW!  As you read the carefully chosen words and phrases Karrie uses, did you feel the rhythm she was weaving for you?  Were you intrigued?  Did her words fixate you?  Did they transform who she is in your mind?  Did you notice she speaks about the outcomes she produces / her clients want?  I bet the answer is YES!  And that’s good.

When you have an opportunity to share more than a brief elevator pitch, consider the lesson Karrie is giving you here . . . choose your words to paint strong, vivid images that will not only attract and qualify people for your business but make them feel excited about working with you, too.

If you’re wondering why there is an ‘old’ school that’s been around long enough to be ‘old’ in the first place . . . check this out.

It’s a short video on the fundamentals of good marketing for anyone in the B2B marketplace.

After you hear the message, based on an ‘ancient’ advertisement that’s still as relevant today as it was ‘back in the day’ . . . think about how you’re using the modern social media of today to answer the questions this fellow is posing.

You’ll do more business when you do!

Years ago, as a financial advisor (CLU, ChFC) I learned firsthand that most people spend more time planning how they’ll spend a one week vacation than how they’ll spend their retirement years.  I don’t think that’s changed all that much despite the recent market fluctuations.

evaIn marketing a small business or professional practice, it’s not much different. People don’t prepare for marketing as much as they ‘just do it’.

Now Nike’s tagline notwithstanding, that’s just asinine. And no different than focusing more time on planning your one week vacation than your retirement years.

Seth Godin made a great post on this very topic.  He argues that business people are like ‘kids in a candy store’ gazing at all the ‘goodies’ — the myriad choices of marketing tactics that are readily available to us all . . . Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc..  Seth’s not saying there’s anything wrong with these marketing options (there isn’t).  But he admonishes us all to remember that they’re tactics, not a marketing strategy.

Tactics are supposed to support your marketing strategy.  And if your strategy isn’t already in place . . . then using any marketing tactic is akin to launching a rocket but forgetting to add the astronauts before lift-off!  You’d scream if NASA did that, but in your own business . . . you may be doing precisely that if you haven’t chosen your marketing strategy before your marketing tactics.

It’s not the ‘quick and dirty’ approach to marketing (which is appealing, I will admit!)  . . . but defining and articulating a viable marketing STRATEGY before you begin to consider which TACTICS you’ll use to implement and communicate your strategy is going to set you apart from your competitors and . . . far more successfully, too.

When it comes to MEDIA . . . that carries a MESSAGE . . . to a target MARKET . . . this is an excellent example of what it’s all about:


This is a company that makes hair waxing products for the uh, ‘hairy’ body parts that their customers would like to make less so.

This gentleman was hired to walk the beach in Vancouver, British Columbia and distribute free product samples, answer questions and have his picture taken with interested people.

Nice work . . . creative but aligned with the market it seeks to attract.  Good show, Parissa!

I was talking with someone about creating a tagline for her business.  I asked her to show me what she’d come up with as possibilities.  She did.  Then I did the ‘Logo Test’ on her possible taglines.

John Jantsch, Founder of Duct Tape Marketing long ago came up with a great way to ‘test’ a core message or tagline for your business.

“Slap any competitor’s logo over your tagline. If it works, then you’re not more distinctive than any competitor . . . as your prospect sees things. You’re also no more likely to be memorable to your prospect, either!”

There’s an expression, “Saying something that appeals to everyone in general is appealing to no one in particular”.

Focusing on a ‘valuable benefit’ of interest to your target market is what you want to be doing.  But if that’s all you do, then you aren’t focusing on any unique selling proposition that can help you to be:

  1. valuable,
  2. distinctive, and (therefore)
  3. memorable

And isn’t that what a tagline is supposed to be?  Yes!  It’s a way to say something valuable, distinctive and valuable to your prospects, clients and centers-of-influence.

I understand you have a legitimate profit motive (and you must be in business for a profit or you’ll be working for someone else!).

That’s why I respectfully urge you to honor what is both:

  1. important to you / your passion and,
  2. attractive to a certain kind of prospect

who, all things considered, may consider your business to be THE ‘preferred provider’ in your category because they remember that you offer a good experience (like all your competitors claim, right?) AND ALSO a business that stands out for something that’s unique to you and meaningful to them.

“Me-Too” marketing — saying something any other competitor can say as your tagline — isn’t terribly difficult. You see it being done everywhere, everyday. It’s easy.  Too easy.


It’s just not distinctive AND valuable. Therefore, it’s not that distinctive and memorable.  And that’s not helpful to you, either.

I hope you weigh this advice to incorporate BOTH your passion in how you do business AND your unique selling proposition to your target market.

It will help you generate revenues AND profits and make it possible for more and more like-minded people in the future to see you as THE preferred provider in your category.