ImageA few days ago, E! was on (I wasn’t watching it!), and I happened to notice a commercial for “The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure” come on during a break.

For those of you who haven’t heard of the Oogieloves, the new movie follows three full-bodied puppets through an adventure to find five lost magical balloons that are essential for a birthday party. In other words, it’s a complete “kid” movie, and it shouldn’t have been promoted on a network with an older audience, like E!

This past weekend, the movie suffered the worst box office opening of all time. For the 2,160 theatres it played in, it only grossed a total of $448,131. Box Office Mojo wrote, “To put that in perspective, if each location played Oogieloves five times a day on one screen at an average ticket price of $7, that would translate to fewer than two people per showing.” On top of that, the movie cost $20 million to make and an additional $40 million to market.

Ouch.

I’m not the first to call this movie a failure, but I’m going to say this, anyway: Let this movie serve as an example of how important it is to determine the ideal audience for your product.

The Oogieloves aren’t alone

The people behind the Oogieloves weren’t the only ones who failed to define their ideal audience. It’s all too common that companies attempt to establish a target market way larger than their product might actually reach.

I learned this firsthand. When I started marketing my real estate business, my target market was too broad – mostly because I wasn’t sure who, exactly, my perfect target was. I spent too much money advertising to a too-large market; by reaching everyone, I figured I would inevitably reach my ideal customers.

Eventually, I figured out this wasn’t working. I had to find my “perfect customer,” but I wasn’t sure how.

How to find your “perfect customer”

Finding the perfect customer for your product is no easy task. I learned this through extra marketing costs, and the Oogieloves folks are likely learning this through embarrassing press and millions of wasted dollars.

In Internet marketing, your audience is your most important factor to consider. I have two methods I typically use to whittle away at the entire market to find my perfect target audience 

  • Use a survey.
  • Find out who’s visiting your website currently. To do this, I use Quantcast. This service measures your audience for free online, providing data such as traffic, demographics, business, lifestyle, interests, and more.

You can never have enough information on your target market, so constantly keep a tab on it and how it is changing.

Okay, but what next?

Once you have succeeded in defining your ideal client, start by giving yourself a pat on the back. You’ve already done better than the Oogieloves. Now, it’s time to draw in your newfound niche audience online.

This is how I do it: 

  • I research my target market to determine what fits that criterion.
  • I then target my online advertisements and marketing efforts to reach that specific market, based on my findings. When I’m setting up online banner advertisements, for example, I am able to select who I want to see them.

Additionally, do not forget to tailor your marketing messages and communication strategies to fit your target audience (this might, perhaps, be the most important step). Talk to them, and their needs, directly to engage them.

Once you’ve hooked them, you have to land the catch. Whenever I purchase online advertising, I always set up a follow-up sequence in my database. This allows for emails to be sent to my online prospects that include content pertinent to their individual reason for visiting my website.

A similar effect can be achieved through direct mailings. When purchasing mailing lists, look for highly targeted groups so you can ensure that the people receiving your message actually want your message.

Take a lesson from the Oogieloves

Don’t let your product be the next “Oogieloves.” The movie shouldn’t have been trying to pretend its target audience were E! viewers, but yours might be. The more time you invest into determining who your specific audience is, the more you will end up profiting in the end.