Stop Looking for Mass Audiences

The days of mass audiences are over. I remember as a child when a typical TV programme would get 15m viewers mid-week, sometimes 20m. The BBC used to attract around 12m people to its Radio One breakfast show. Almost half the nation used to listen to Noel Edmonds in the mornings. We saw the break up of mass audiences with the introduction of Satellite TV in the UK. Instead of having to reach mass audiences, the BSkyB network can make money by having hundreds of channels that reach smaller audiences. You still get your millions of viewers, but in chunks, rather than all together.

The Internet has further demonstrated the value of going for the small audience. Your average retail store has limited shelf space and so can only stock a small range of items. Even large hypermarkets don’t have enough shelf space to put on sale everything that’s available. Plus there is the distribution difficulty of getting all the products to all the outlets. The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson, clearly points this out. If you haven’t read this book and you are running any kind of online business, you need to!

But I was reminded of this book when I spoke at a meeting yesterday where one member of the audience was concerned their product was too narrowly focused. Ideal, I said. Internet businesses need to think of supplying thousands of very narrow niches, rather than trying to aim for the mass audience. Mass marketing is dead.

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