It may sound crazy, but a crucial strategy in expanding your online presence in a useful direction is stereotyping. Not in a way that has positive or negative connotations that one might assume, but in a way that provides a useful and human understanding of your primary customer base. Although stereotyping may seem like an offensive way to examine your audience, it isn’t so cut and dry, which is why I prefer the term pigeonholing. Not only because it is more fun to say, but because it draws a more accurate picture as well.
The term pigeonholing means to classify disparate entities into a small number of categories. In some instances it is based off of stereotypes, but from a marketing perspective, it is based off of hard data and research. From that data and research, certain assumptions and conclusions are made, which in a sense is stereotyping. As uncomfortable as it may seem to typecast your audience, it allows your marketing strategy to effectively address each primary audience member.
Imagine instead of pigeons nesting in these holes, it is women, for example. Based on data from Pew Research, we know that women tend to use the internet to get health information, read spiritual and religious information and gain access to and participate in support group websites. Based off of research, we can categorize women as using the internet to gather information that assists them in nurturing themselves and those around them. Although we may have just made a stereotype, this is useful information that will be used to help marketers further narrow the classification process.
Now it is time to put these “pigeons” into their separate, compartmentalized lofts to further understand their mind frame. By using more specific characteristics like age, profession, financial situation, education and hobbies, we can differentiate distinctive buyer personas.
With careful research and understanding, you can utilize those distinct categories to identify the personalities you are trying to attract. I suggest taking it a step further and give the individuals within each pigeonhole a back story and name, so you are no longer pursuing a group, but an individual who shares the basic characteristics of your specific target. With that information, you are better able to address specific people, problems and beliefs, pinpoint accurate placement and showcase the right price.
The moral of the story is: understand your audience. Don’t use stereotypes based on assumptions, but on hard data and research. Use those pigeonholes to characterize your different targets by giving them a persona. Use those personas to find the channels and message that best relates to them. The more specific and tailored your pigeonhole is, the better you will be able to communicate effectively.