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It’s all well and good to say you need to define your audience… but once you’ve identified who’s going to be interested in seeing your film, playing your game or watching your web or TV show, how do you track them down so you can convince them they’ll love it?

Some of the most common questions I’m asked when I’m teaching or presenting relate to research, and specifically, to audience research. In response to those inquiries, this post is about the process I go through developing a communication strategy for one of my projects, or for someone else’s.

If you’re an independent filmmaker, web series creator, game developer or any other type of content creator, and you want your work to be experienced by as many people as possible, collective wisdom recommends you define your audience in more specific terms than age, gender and income bracket. There’s a lot of content out there vying for your audience’s attention… to have any chance at all of being heard through that incessant babble you need to really know who your audience is – your core audience. (I’ve talked about this concept a little bit in an earlier post, directly referencing Jucy.) Once you know who’s going to be interested in your project, it’s time to work out how to get their attention.

For the purposes of this post, let’s suppose I’m producing a feature film that appeals to a core audience of 16-25 males who are into motocross. The first step I take in creating an audience strategy is to gather data: I Google motocross and get a ton of results. If I want to geo-target audiences because my film is being released in a number of countries, I’ll do an advanced search and choose to see sites only from the region I’m interested in (the internet doesn’t always work like this though – I’m pretty sure motocross enthusiasts all over the world visit motocross.com).

I take the first page of URLs Google returns, one at a time, to a site called Alexa, to find out what each site’s traffic is like. Drilling a little further into Alexa, I obtain a basic audience breakdown in terms of age, gender, education level and location. Sometimes the results are surprising.

For motocross.com they’re not: 18-24 year olds are over-represented here, and women are under-represented.

Another site I use to clarify which websites have the same audience I’m after is Compete. Compete requires you to register to use their analytics but they have a freemium membership. You can compare up to five sites at a time.

After a lot of Googling, browsing, copying and pasting, I’m starting to get a picture of where my core audience hangs out – online at least. Now I have to conjure a strategy to reach them. I might choose to advertise on the sites they frequent; I might establish a relationship with the busiest site’s management and offer an incentive to assist in promoting my movie; I might start visiting the community and seeding links to the film’s social media pages. The way I go about engaging the audience, once I know where they are, is tailored specifically to suit them.

Thinking up ways to engage the audience is fun. There are many amazing and innovative elements you can create to entertain your audience once you get in front of them. At KCDC we love doing this stuff, and the whiteboard is a cherished piece of equipment. We regularly cross reference our brainstorming ideas with how we’ve defined the film’s audience because every audience is different and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ (and also because it’s easy to get off target in a brainstorm).

I know this is a bit of a divergence, but I’m going to keep typing. Mentioning my whiteboard reminds me of an online tool we use regularly for collaborative brainstorming – Google Docs. It’s really convenient and productive to edit a document at the same time as one of your colleagues interstate or overseas, as long as you’re not both in the same cell or sentence. As well as enabling real time collaboration in a document environment, Google Docs makes it easy to share big files of any kind – you upload them to the cloud and generate the link to share for downloading. Starting to sound like steak knives now I know, you can also buy cloud storage on Google Docs, for a ridiculously low price. $5 a year for 20GB.

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