Should you niche down to find your audience?Jun 07, 2022
Should you niche down to find your audience?
This week I’m asking if defining your audience can help you connect with the right people – or if niching down is actually limiting your film’s reach.
Because I’ve found that a lot of people out there – filmmakers and film-lovers alike – think that “great” films appeal to everyone. And in the early days of my career, I was one of them.
I distinctly remember sitting in front of a commissioning editor with a new project I was incredibly excited about. When they asked me who it was for, I said “My project is SO important! I know everyone will want to see it.”
The editor giving me a stern look and responded “Well my channel isn’t for “everyone”. So it’s probably not a good fit for us.”
It was mortifying. But a valuable lesson at the same time.
These days, whenever a client comes to me with a video idea and tells me their target audience is “everybody”, I know I’m in for trouble. But I also get it.
With so many people using streaming platforms to watch videos, it’s tempting to get caught up in the idea that you should market your content to everyone with a smart device and a stable Internet connection. The thing is, your video isn’t going to relate to the five billion people online every day.
So really, to answer my own question at the top of this post – no, I don’t think that niching down will limit your film’s reach. In fact, I think it will ensure it gets in front of the right people, leaves a lasting impression and makes genuine impact.
Let me explain why.
First, let’s get clear on the word ‘niche’
And I don’t mean the pronunciation (which trips the best of us up, you’re not alone!).
You see, a lot of people hear the word ‘niche’ and think it’s just a fancy way of saying limit or small. And it’s likely that neither of those words sound good to you, especially when you want your film to make the biggest splash it can.
There are a few definitions out there, but the one that sticks most with me is this:
Niche: denoting products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialised section of the population.
I know, I know – there’s that word, small. But I want to bring something to your attention.
When it comes to “niching down”, I’m not necessarily talking about creating content that only serves one niche audience.
I’m talking about niche audience segments. Because there might be a number of different niches that your video suits, and if that’s the case you’re not trying to create a video for each individual niche. You’re trying to figure out (and understand) who those niches are, so you can market your video to each of them effectively.
Take film trailers for example. The trailer that you see in the cinema is different to the one you see on TV, which is different to what’s published on YouTube. Why? Because these platforms speak to different audience segments, but they’re still promoting the same film.
Still not convinced that you want to “niche down”?
Is it because you think your film is a one-of-a-kind piece of cinematic genius? Maybe it is. I hope to see it one day.. But that doesn’t mean it will appeal to the masses.
And without a clear understanding of who it speaks to, you’re likely to sell it to an audience that couldn’t care less about it.
I hate to say this, but It doesn’t matter if you make the greatest film of all time. If no one tunes in, you haven’t succeeded.
But if you put a little bit of work in at the beginning to define your audience and figure out your niche audience segments, you’ll be well on your way to finding a motivated group of fans.
To figure out your niche audience segments, do you need to start wth an avatar?
In my opinion? No. I don’t think the tried and tested avatar or buyer persona made famous by the big advertising execs of the 1980s has much relevance in the context of finding an audience for your film. I go into this further with my students in the Define Your Ideal Audience online course. If you’re keen to learn more, you can do so on this page .
But to give you a teaser, here’s a brief overview of my thinking: an avatar only gives you a basic outline of your “target audience”. It might pinpoint their age, gender, employment status and their favourite pastimes. It rarely goes much deeper, which is a big misstep.
Because while you don’t want to promote your film to every woman and her cat, you also don’t want to market your film to a single demographic. Instead, you want to identify the specific groups of people who are bound together by your film, due to their shared opinions, interests or world views. And you want to speak specifically to them through a variety of mediums.
There’s an audience for every film and a film for every audience
I actually think there’s great power and freedom in defining your audience at a time when there’s so much content out there and everyone is obsessed with reaching a big, broad crowd. When you understand the groups of people your film talks to, you can put your effort into building a genuinely receptive and motivated audience who, in many, ways will become the hardest working members of your marketing team.
If you’re wondering how exactly to define your ideal audience and the right niche audience segments for your film or video project, my online course (aptly titled) Define Your Ideal Audience was made for you. Learn more and enrol over here.
But if you’re just starting to dip your toes into the filmmaking game, why not head over to the Moonshine Communications Academy YouTube channel. Every Tuesday, Mike Hill and I dive deep into all the ins of out of making and sharing great content in the Moonshine Moonshot series. Be sure to subscribe so you know when new episodes land!
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