In the previous post we looked at the topic of your project and what questions would need to be answered in order to enhance the possibilities for your project to reach and engage with people. And it’s exactly that which we’ll discuss in this post – how to look at and address your target audiences in order to successfully reach out and arrive at meaningful engagement.
Target groups per say is something that has been researched and discussed in thousands of papers, presentations, posts and videos over the past decades. Every single brand worth its salt is interested in honing down the correct target groups for their products, and a documentary filmmaker should not be any different. From the very beginning of your project you should, naturally, have an idea about whom you’re making the film for. To strengthen your knowledge regarding this, there are numerous ways to arrive at what target groups are the most viable for your project, like for instance to start looking at films similar to yours and what audiences they’ve had.
Here are some questions in different categories that you would ideally know the answers to, in order to best reach the target audiences you’re aiming for:
Find out as much as you can about things like age, gender, income (and disposable income!), ethnic background, marital status and family. What we’re talking about here are basically statistical data that relates to the population and more precisely particular groups within this population. This builds a framework for the personas that make up your target audiences.
Work your way down from the international, global level to the national, then on to the regional and if possible also the local level. This knowledge about where the people you want to target and reach actually live, will influence greatly how you go about reaching them and engaging with them.
Here you “fill in the blanks”, so to speak, and fill out those personas you’ve already started building, with information about their activities and interests, about their attitudes and needs and wants, about their personalities and values – i.e. all the intricacies that make people differ from each other and that let you know which strings to pull on to try to achieve the desired outcome.
You can dive into these areas almost endlessly, but very few of us have the resources to do that. At the very least, you should know as much as possible about the answers to a few questions regarding your target group(s):
- What territory? Where in the world are the people you want to reach, and what are the characteristics of those particular territories?
- What age group? Targeting Gen Z is monumentally different from targeting boomers or millennials, and clarifying this question will help you avoid some mistakes.
- What gender? Now, gender fluidity notwithstanding, this is an important area to be quite certain about and deserves both scrutiny and some thought put into it.
- What are their interests? This can be a potentially valuable piece of information, as it can help you hone your approach to engaging with them, through areas that are already of interest to them and through activities they already find interesting.
- What motivates them? For instance, if social validation motivates their actions this creates a possible way to connect and engage and validate their actions. If on the other hand compensation in one form or another is the main motivation, this calls for a possible different course of action.
- What sub-groups can be derived from core target group(s)? No one person is like another, but groups of people obviously do share common characteristics. Is it possible for you to more closely find out what sub-groups can be derived from the main target groups you’re aiming for? Territorial, behavioural, interest-wise or with other characteristics? This in turn can help you find new angles to target such smaller groups, and through them the larger groups.
In conclusion, knowing whom you’re targeting and as much about them as possible will be one of the most valuable tools you will have in your toolbox when you strive to reach audiences and engage with them.
In the next post, we’ll discuss the ever-changing world of platforms and how to decide which ones to utilise and how.