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Broadening Your Audience While Maintaining Your Core Customer

By Colbey Pfund, co-founder of LFNT Distribution

It's an impressive feat to capture your first audience. I know the feeling well; after we figured out how to create unique e-liquids that people loved, it was an unbeatable feeling. That's a feeling we now chase by continuously expanding our audience.

But there's a problem inherent to growing your audience, and that's the tightrope you walk as you try not to lose your current demographic. Welch's is currently conducting a campaign that illustrates how to do just that. It has been making grape juice for kids for decades, and it's now aiming to build out that audience by appealing to adult men, too. It's an impressive reach because it flirts with danger; will this alienate its main market? Welch's is proving you can do it successfully. Here's how:

Develop a persona.

First off, develop a strong, robust persona for new products that align together. Ensure every blog, landing page or article you release aligns with a vision that can effectively connect with your intended demographic. Remember, talking to a different audience will require a different message.

Use your data.

Pay attention to your customer relationship management (CRM) data. Your customer data collection holds clues as to what will appeal to different people, but you can also identify trends. Those trends will be key to developing and crafting other brands or products because you know that your base will respond positively to them.

Showcase success.

Showcase how brilliantly your brand serves up what people want. You can tinker with your messaging to highlight how it benefits even more people. One story that comes to mind is Vera Bradley bags. After years in service, the company wanted to appeal to younger women, so it created a bag with a built-in smartphone charger. This allowed Vera Bradley to increase its audience without alienating its long-time one.

Leverage your data.

You're going to need to leverage the granularity of marketing automation -- or in other words, tailor your message to different demographics by using automation software. Apps like HubSpot, for example, allow you to boost your digital marketing reach and also deliver great data on consumers.

Gradually announce change.

Whenever the appearance of a new product has the potential to disrupt your traditional product line, you need to go slow. If, for example, you're planning on a whole new website design, don't spring it on everyone without first announcing that it's coming. Get your base audience on board by letting them know. It takes much longer to smooth the ruffled feathers than it does to gradually introduce a change.

Listen to feedback.

If your base audience begins reacting badly to your new changes, take that into consideration.

Don't alienate them. Transparency is the key to making these changes work. One example of a change gone wrong comes from Shea Moisture. The company had catered to African-American women until it decided to expand its audience and ran an ad with two white women and only one black woman. Its core audience understandably felt erased from the ad. It sparked a huge controversy.

Additional ads tried to rectify the situation, but it was too little, too late. Ultimately, the company wound up issuing a full apology on social media. It was a heartfelt apology and didn't pull punches, but some customers felt it missed the mark. The core audience felt the real problem was that Shea was expanding its base at the expense of its core audience.

The bottom line: Don't alienate your core customer.

There's a lesson here for all of us. Don't alienate your core base no matter what because then you'll be left with no one -- back at square one and forced to start all over again.

If you rebrand as part of a new product launch, remember to:

• Update everything across the board.

• Make your design distinguishable from everything that came before it.

• Never forget your audience.

Just as you wouldn't use the same campaign for a product for men and a product for women, you will be creating different campaigns for all of your products. Ultimately, one size doesn't necessarily fit all, so you will need to tailor new products to new audiences. Just don't forget your existing customer base in the process.

Colbey Pfund is co-founder of LFNT Distribution, a leading international distributor of premium eliquid.


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