Like sharks, companies must keep swimming. All audiences are finite, and successful businesses exhaust theirs sooner or later.
1. Tweak your brand to suit a similar target.
The first step to reaching any new audience is understanding it. If you see an opportunity to reach a similar market overseas, for instance, look for subtle differences. Zero in on likely users, asking questions like:
- How old are they?
- What is their daily life like?
- How much disposable income do they have?
- What are their pain points?
Tweak your branding to suit the new audience, but take care not to alienate the old. When possible, give your brand an update rather than a total overhaul.
After selling candy to Brits for five years, Skittles decided to let Americans taste the rainbow. Retaining its strange, quirky voice, Skittles gave its illustrated ads a facelift. Skittles’ new branding was still colorful and fun, but it gained a goofy and photorealistic spin that resonated with younger American (and British) consumers who’d grown up with television.
2. Create a spinoff brand.
What if your new target audience’s preferences aren’t easily reconcilable with the prior one’s? Don’t ditch your existing customer base for a new one; set up a spinoff brand so you can serve both.
Because spinoffs are risky, start by dipping in your toes. Founded in the 1940s, Shelter Insurance is a multi-line, high-touch insurer that knew it needed to reach younger customers. By offering auto policies through its spinoff brand Say Insurance, Shelter was able to test an online-first model with a younger demographic.
Change only as much about your core brand as is necessary for the spinoff. If transparency is a hallmark of your company that would resonate well with the new target, feature it in both brands. Consumers will connect the two eventually. Don’t let what they see scare off either group.
3. Strike a partnership.
Setting up a spinoff brand is a major initiative. One alternative is to associate yourself with a brand your new target audience holds in high esteem. Look for non-competing companies to work with that are already successful with the new niche.
Realizing ridesharing and music streaming complemented each other well, Spotify set up an Uber integration to reach a new audience of “backseat DJs.” The music streaming giant already had 50 million subscribers; to continue growing, it seized on a service that catered to a broad audience and a setting where people would naturally listen to music. Uber, for its part, gained a differentiator by letting its riders control the music.
Remember that a partnership must benefit both parties. Before proposing one, think through how the other company’s customers would benefit. If there’s no clear reason, look elsewhere.
4. Leverage social proof.
Consumers look to people they respect when determining whether a brand represents them. Although influencer marketing can help grow your existing audience, it can also play a key role in making inroads with new ones.
Look at Sprint’s use of influencers in the mobile services market. Sprint’s higher-priced unlimited plans are especially popular with more mature consumers, but the provider realized it could also appeal to younger tech-loving users.
That insight was the seed of Sprint’s #LiveUnlimited campaign. To reach a new audience, it enlisted a number of social media celebrities, including Lele Pons, Prince Royce, and Rachel Cook. In a play to reach Verizon customers, Sprint also recruited its “Can you hear me now?” brand ambassador.
If you manage to siphon away a competitor’s influencer, take care not to look like the backup choice. Ask the personality to explain why he or she switched in an early post.
5. Set up a customization service.
Young, old, male, female, American, international: No matter her background, everyone likes to be treated as an audience of one.
Few companies do a better job of this than Nike. The athletic brand’s “Nike By You” service makes it possible to design footwear that represents every taste, from high-top basketball kicks to lightweight running shoes.
Make sure to support product customization with personalized marketing. Late last year, Nike purchased Zodiac, a consumer analytics firm that now allows it to target consumers by specific geographic region, social media preferences, and age. The more specifically you can speak to someone, the more likely she is to trust your customization service.
There’s always a way to reach a new audience; the challenge is choosing a target and selecting a strategy that fits. Do your research, adjust only what’s necessary about your brand, and make sure your marketing and product teams are on the same page. Saturate that market, then do it all over again.