A panel of marketing experts tore down the myth of the total market approach and made a case instead for more niche marketing at The 2016 Diversity Discussion in Television & Video in New York City on Monday.

The panel, called “Attracting Diverse Audiences – How Diverse Viewers Matter,” asked marketing executives from HBO, Comcast and others to share how they’re effectively channeling a multicultural audience.

“The biggest misconception [in TV marketing today] is the total market approach,” said José E. Velez-Silva, VP, multicultural marketing communications at Comcast Cable.

“Many marketers think that with the total market approach with one message you’re going to reach everyone. I think that’s not true,” he said.

Lucinda Martinez, SVP, multicultural and international marketing at HBO, cited the successful marketing of Insecure, a comedy series starring Issa Rae as a female African-American protagonist as an example.

“One of the biggest myths in marketing, when you have a very niche show—a black woman show—and it’s a general market network, the tendency is to try to make it as broad as possible,” said Martinez.

“I would argue if you go very specific and you go an inch wide and a mile deep instead of going a mile wide and inch deep, your audience is going to show up and then everyone else is going to come, too,” she said.

With Insecure, Martinez and her team used several unique marketing strategies to help attract the network’s niche audience.

“We made sure that our campaign was culturally relevant,” Martinez said, focusing on a marketing campaign that included block parties in Brooklyn, pop-up nail salons and a controversial animated music video.

“Traditional media is about reaching. We like to think that multicultural marketing is about touching your audience,” Martinez shared. “We don’t market at people, we speak directly to people and engage people.”

Never Settle, a new digital series that’s reimagining the talk show genre for the web, is trying to do exactly that.

Mario Armstrong, contributor to NBC’s Today and the host and creator of NeverSettle.TV, aimed to create a different kind of talk show that would “touch” a diverse audience and instead of talking at its viewers would talk with them.

Part of the strategy involved first finding out who the audience was and then creating a show that would fit their needs.

“We’re moving to a different model where this show is actually being crowd-produced… so the crowd can actually help dictate the show,” Armstrong said.

To accomplish his vision, Armstrong partnered with Leflein Associates, a marketing research firm, to provide the data.

Before creating the show, Armstrong and his team created a trailer for it and then Leflein Associates crafted a survey based on the trailer and disseminated it via social media to figure out exactly who the audience was.

The result was a highly specific snapshot of who was interested in Never Settle and what kinds of things they care about – namely women, in particular women of color, interested in entrepreneurship.

“We have to look beyond demographics,” advised Barbara Leflein, president and founder of Leflein Associates. “It’s about understanding the values that people have,” she added.

“Niche audiences are powerful,” Armstrong said. “Stop assuming that you have to reach market mass all the time. You need to start looking at aggregating niche audiences that can really move the needle.”


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