#EurekaMoment 08: Why ‘everybody’ is not a target audience

March 20, 2017 Harold Tor-Daenens

#EurekaMoment 08: Why ‘everybody’ is not a target audience

It may come as a surprise but there are still people in this world who think ‘everybody’ (or the ‘general public’) is a target audience. Yes. And it is dangerous that these people hold the position of presidents, CEOs, chairmen, vice presidents or even heads of marketing, campaign or public affairs. They are the main stumbling block to the success of all their organisation’s communications deliverables – be it an ad, a press release, a position paper, a product launch, a speech or a website.

The reason why they insist that they are the only ones who can craft their organisation’s communications and targeting at no one in particular is that they mix up a desire to achieve maximum exposure possible across the earth’s entire population, and maximum exposure with a limited group of people who might be genuinely interested in that piece of communications.

First of all, I’d like to explain to these people why ‘everybody’ is not a target audience:

One, all human beings are different. People speak different languages, they have different interests, beliefs, habits and cultures. Whatever you produce, it will never reach everyone as you imagine it would. Furthermore, each channel has its limitations: a TV ad will only be seen in a particular country by a particular group of people who speak a particular language who happen to tune in at a particular time. An ad at a bus stop will only be seen by commuters who use a particular bus service in along a particular bus route. A website, will only be seen by users who searched for a specific set of keywords, even if you push it out via social media. Hence, ‘everybody’ as a target audience group is not a possibility.

Two, you fail to cater to one group of people when you attempt to cater to many groups of people. Customisation is key to outreach. Here’s a simplistic analogy: if you want to talk about a cat product, you cannot be talking to animal lovers in general, which would also include dog lovers, horse breeders or wildlife enthousiasts. Dog lovers will not need your cat product, and wildlife lovers may be against domesticated animals. There may be cat lovers among the lot, but since your content is geared towards ‘all animal lovers’, they may not feel you are speaking to them specifically and thus ignore what you are saying.

But most importantly, trying to target ‘everybody’ means you are not using data to target and finetune your communications.

Whether it is consumers, businesses, journalists, policymakers you are trying to influence – you need to know who they are.
It allows you to build a concrete image of a personae, so you know how to craft your content:

  • Is it a man or a woman?
  • What age group?
  • What interests or hobbies?
  • Where does he or she live?
  • What are his or her goals in life?
  • What are his or her communications habits?
  • What are the platforms and channels he or she is on?

Not only will you have a clearer idea on how to craft the content, you will have a clearer assumption on:

  • Which channels to use
  • How to craft appealing content on those channels
  • When and where to communicate the content
  • How to engage and interact based on the content

Analytics will allow you to finetune and work towards the betterment of your content, outreach strategies and eventual interactions.

With so many possibilities to help you achieve your communications results, why would you still want ‘everybody’ as a target audience?


Eureka Moments are not so much moments of sudden realisation or enlightenment like Archimedes. They are moments while I am in my commute when I get to reflect on things that someone mentioned to me, things that I am confronted with, things that I or others have sought a solution for. They are more ‘oh I get it’ rather than ‘I have discovered it’. 

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