Which target market are you really making ads for?

The other day I was reading an article in BRW magazine. It listed the fastest growing companies in Australia for 2011. Placed at #2 was Jetts 24 Hour Fitness with 2010-11 revenue of almost $43m and more than 403% growth.

Put simply, Jetts is a chain of gyms that offer 24-hour access, basic equipment, and no contracts. In an industry dominated by full-service gyms such as Fitness First and Fernwood, this was an entirely new business model.

The Managing Director of Jetts, Brendon Levenson, says that the fundamental backbone of his business is that they simply listened to their customers and gave them what they wanted, even if that meant challenging conventional industry thinking.

This got me thinking about the advertising industry and our customers. The tricky thing is that an ad agency is in the position where the work it does actually has two target markets. Firstly, there’s the client (the one giving you the work and paying the bills), and secondly, there’s the end-customer (the one that’s buying the product or service and ultimately paying the client’s bills).

And here’s the problem: while a successful ad appeals to the end customer, it’s not always the same type of ad that will appeal to a marketing client. Some marketers find it hard to remove their own views or walk in the shoes of their consumers. Usually, they have a skewed version of their product, or how the market perceives it. And the greater the difference between the client’s view and their customers’ view, the worse the ad.

But surely this can be addressed with a fairly honest and open conversation with your client, can’t it? Well, that’s probably a question for you to answer next time you’re taking a brief or accepting feedback.

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