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Your preferences do not define your target audience.

This weekend I got my car’s oil changed. My husband found a great deal at the local auto center, so first thing Saturday morning we took the car in for service.

After pulling the car into the center’s garage, we were told the projected wait time would be 45 minutes. Not too bad, so we decided to sit in the waiting room. I sat down, looking around for something to do. Sure, I could pull out my phone and catch up on email or reading, but it was still pretty early and I was in the mood to do something mindless.

So I looked to the stack of reading material on the waiting room table, and much to my disappointment, they were all issues of Car And Driver magazine. I wouldn’t have blinked if there were a few Car And Driver’s sprinkled in amongst some more mainstream, general interest magazines, but every. single. one. was a Car And Driver.

It was obvious the individual responsible for this room was oblivious to the business’ target audience. Maybe it was the garage manager? Either way, he (or she) supplied reading material he wanted to read in a waiting room.

Consider for a moment the type of person who pays to have his or her oil changed…probably knows little about cars, because it is pretty easy (and most of the time more cost effective) to change the oil yourself. Though this sample is in no way scientific, most of the “car buffs” I know have fancy cars and take them to the dealership for service rather than the local quick lube type place. So the typical waiting room user for this business, probably not that into Car And Driver magazine.

The Marketing Lesson: Except in some rare cases, you are probably not your business’ target audience. Consider that fact when planning every detail of your interaction with them.

With nothing to read, and a very unsettling children’s show playing on the television, we decided to walk around the mall. (Luckily, this auto center was attached to the mall.) Ahhh, the mall. Where many of the stores know I’m their target audience, and treat me with marketing and communications that lure me in and keep me coming back for more.

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