Targeted Musings on Financial Marketing

You Can’t Market to Everyone at Once: Tailoring Message to Audience

08 Oct 2019

Who is your target audience? Before you can ever sit down to figure out a broad marketing plan, you need to answer this question as honestly as possible. You can hardly expect to craft a coherent marketing plan without knowing who you’re marketing to—who’s on the receiving end of the message. But it may come as little surprise to learn that when we speak to our marketing clients, one of the most common answers we hear to the “who is your target audience” question is “everyone.”

From a certain perspective, the “everyone” answer is understandable. After all, if you’re seeking to boost assets under management and reach a wide audience, why limit the pool of investors you’re reaching out to? But this seemingly sensible approach ignores an important, baseline truth that applies not just to marketing, but to all human communication: different audiences require different messaging if you’re hoping to communicate effectively.


Telling your Tailored Story

Imagine a humorous story from your own life. Maybe it happened in high school, maybe it happened last week. Now picture yourself telling this story to a couple of your best friends over beers. You think it’s a pretty funny story and you want to make your audience laugh. What would you leave out? What would you emphasize? Do your friends know any of the other people from your story? Did they know you at the time the story takes place? Are they familiar with the setting and the context?

Be sure to also read: How to Use Visuals to tell your ETF’s Story

Now imagine telling this same story to your six-year-old daughter, or your mother-in-law, or a police officer. Would you use the same language? Emphasize the same parts of the story? Maybe you would pick another story altogether. We may not realize it, but the audience on the receiving end of our stories form an integral part of the stories themselves: what we choose to leave in, what we emphasize, the language we use, the context we provide. The same principles apply in marketing; we may not often think of it this way, but marketing just happens to be a specific type of sales-focused storytelling.

In financial marketing, in particular ETF marketing, there are really three broad “slices” of the market to choose from, listed here in increasing levels of sophistication: retail (individual) investors, financial advisors, and institutional investors. Retail investors may be unfamiliar with most financial terminology (even what many ETF firms think of as basic, such as “alpha,” “beta,” and “factors”), while institutional investors have an appetite for thoroughly researched whitepapers and artfully presented data to back up investment claims. But this high-level categorization is just a starting point for ETF marketers. Is your target audience interested in a particular sector? Are they already invested in a similar product? Are they familiar with your brand or is this their first time encountering it?

You may not have answers to all of these questions, but they should help get the gears turning as you seek to formulate a marketing plan of attack that really speaks to your target audience.


The bottom line

Marketing to everyone may sound appealing, but it isn’t actually possible: not in life, nor in financial marketing. Without even realizing it, we tailor our messages every day to match our target audiences, why should your financial marketing be any different?