When I hear someone say, “we want to target men for our marketing campaign” or “we want men’s publications for our PR campaign,” that raises an immediate red flag to me as a marketer and an analyst. “Men” is a giant category, approximately 3.5 billion people, and the chances that your product, service, or announcement is going to resonate with all of them is exceptionally small. Campaigns that aim for “men” often fall far short of the target, at best wasting marketing dollars on people who don’t care about what you have to offer, and at worst offending portions of your audience.
You don’t want “men.” You want very specific categories of men. As a basic example, there is a giant gap in terms of culture and interests between straight men and gay men. There is a giant gap of preference between liberal men and conservative men, between Jewish men and Muslim men, between men from Boston, Massachusetts and men from Tallahassee, Florida. The question is, which subset of men do you want to reach?
If you’re not sure, chances are the reason you don’t know is that you haven’t done an assessment of the men in your audience. Fortunately, developing an understanding of your audience is much less difficult than it used to be. For example, look at Facebook’s new Audience Insights tool. Suppose you wanted to understand male marketers better. Choosing that in the tool would give you strong indicators of what else they’re interested in, data that you can use to guide everything from content creation to PR outreach to product features.
For example, the Facebook Audience Insights tool displays that all male marketers exhibit the following interests as their Top Categories:
As an example of how drastically preferences can change/shift, below is the exact same dataset from the Audience Insights tool but with one twist: identifying gay male marketers.
The dataset changes fairly radically. This is why persona development is so vital to your success. Define your personas very carefully. The more detailed you can be, the easier it will be to craft marketing plans and strategies around those personas.
Similar tools exist from companies like Google AdWords and even Twitter analytics for your followers, though they offer somewhat less flexibility.
The third thing you must do to reach men is to then craft your marketing campaigns to be exclusive. If you know who your audience is and what characteristics they exhibit, then create content, campaigns, ads, social media updates, etc. only for that audience. For example, if your data shows that single straight men ages 25-34 who are interested in marketing like the following:
Then craft everything around them to the exclusion of others. For example, if you were going to write a casual summer cookout blog post, you’d want to reference Bacardi or Grey Goose, but probably not red wine. You’d want to set up pay per click ads targeting this crowd narrowly, filtered on as many interests and affiliations above as your ad platform would allow you to target. You’d want your landing pages to be themed consistent with this crowd; even little things like clip art or stock photography can matter for conveying a sense of alignment.
It’s ever so tempting for a marketer to want to shotgun blast their message to the widest audience possible. Resist that temptation: the more tailored you can make your message using digital audience analytics tools, the better it will resonate with your audience and get them to take the action you want them to take. Your audience will feel as though you are speaking directly to them and only them.