During his keynote at the SiGMA Balkans&CiS 2023, Clinton Sparks shared his insights on how to grow past your target market. His formula sounds simple enough. In order to grow past your target market, you must learn to market to a new target.
Sparks shared his insights from his own experience in the industry and acknowledged that companies might have “a tough time building, finding and growing their own audience.” He added that what he has learnt is that, irrespective of the industry, “everybody’s chasing somebody else’s audience.” He added that marketing to an audience that already exists might not be the best strategy for growth. “What most people do not do is go find their own audience outside of the market.”
Find your audience
He recounted his experience with a client who was launching a new racing circuit in the US to compete with the Indy 500. The client wanted Sparks’ help to “break it into the market, make it cool and bring an audience”. One day, Sparks and his client take a highly exclusive car belonging to the latter for a spin and as they drive along, Sparks notices that everyone along the drive is in awe of the car. He realises that the new audience they need to target is the African American audience, which is largely missing as a demographic in the share of Indy 500 viewership/fandom. “In the States everybody looks at Indy 500 or car racing as a redneck thing. They [the African American audience] do not look at it as cool or cultural or something that they should care about.” Sparks added that a crucial mistake that most companies do, is that “they go after what they think the audience that already exists cares about”.
Know your audience
Once you find your new audience, you need to spark interest in your product or service you are offering in a way that is meaningful to that target demographic. In order to do that, according to Sparks, “you have to understand the audience and you have to learn how to relate, how to communicate and how to understand what matters to them.” What you should not do is try to force on your audience what you think should matter to them. “Everybody’s an echo chamber, whether it’s crypto, whether it’s gaming, whether it’s music, everybody talks about the great product that they have and they don’t understand why everybody else doesn’t see how great this is.” That, according to Sparks is the fundamental flaw. Customers, Sparks added, instinctively know when a company is genuine, when it’s “real” and that is when customers become loyal to a brand. Rather than just chase the money, companies need to understand what matters to the customers first and the money will follow.
The “fundamental, easy to digest rule that works every time”? “If you want to grow past your target market, you must learn how to market to a new target.”
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