World Intellectual Property Organization

Outreach Campaign Planning - Target Audience

Outreach campaigns usually seek to influence a particular behavior of a specific audience. To succeed in this, they must be based on a thorough understanding of the intended audience. Properly identifying and understanding the target audience are therefore essential elements in planning a campaign. Target audiences are best understood through specific research resulting in a demographic and psychological profile of the audience. This research should answer at least the following questions about the target audience:

  • Who / where are they (demographics)?
  • How do they obtain daily information?
  • Who are their role models?
  • What are their current perceptions, knowledge, needs, wants, preferences, and behavior in relation to the issue addressed by the campaign?
  • What prevents them adopting the alternative behavior promoted by the campaign?
  • What would motivate them to adopt the promoted behavior? 

Segmentation of the Target Audience

The more diverse a target audience is (say "general public") the more difficult it is to answer the above questions. Without the answers to these questions, it is almost impossible to create the right messages, chose the appropriate communication tools, and offer the specific incentives that will enable an outreach strategy to successfully achieve the desired change in behavior.

Target audience segmentation is the process of dividing a general audience into smaller groups with similar characteristics, wants, and needs. Experience has demonstrated that audiences respond better to messages that are tailored and relevant to them. The more segmented a target audience is, the more information can be obtained which will result in the development of more relevant messages, communication strategies and incentives, and thereby better results for the outreach campaign.

Within the context of IP promotion, it is important to resist the temptation to target the "general public". While it is true that everyone is potentially a creator and a consumer of intellectual property, this does not help as a criterion for properly segmenting a target audience, and therefore reduces the outreach campaign’s chance of success.

For example, while we all have creative potential, an outreach campaign for the promotion of creativity should greatly differ depending on whether it is targeted at elementary school children, university researchers, or SMEs. The language, message, communication tools and incentives that would be effective in encouraging each of these groups to undertake creative activities are very different.

Typical audiences for IP-related outreach campaign are:

  • Students
  • Teachers
  • Inventors
  • Artistic creators
  • Consumers
  • Law enforcement officials
  • SMEs
  • Researchers

Note how even these categories which are already more specific than "general audience" can be further segmented:

  • Students - by academic level (elementary, secondary, university, postgraduate) or by subject studied (arts, science, etc.)
  • Teachers - by academic level (elementary, secondary, university, postgraduate) or by subject taught (arts, science, etc.)
  • Inventors – by affiliation (independent, academic, corporate, etc.) or by inventive field (chemistry, mechanics, biotechnology, etc.)
  • Artistic creators – by type of art created (literature, painting, photography, composer, performer, etc.)
  • Consumers – by type of product consumed (music, fashion, software, etc.)
  • Law enforcement officials – by specific profession (police officers, customs officials, judges, lawyers)
  • SMEs - by type of industry (retailers, manufacturers, service, etc)
  • Researchers – by affiliation (independent, academic, corporate, government) or by field of research

The above segments could be even further segmented by characteristics such as geographical location, gender, age, etc.

Consider how a publication which clearly explains to singer/songwriters what their specific IP rights are and how they can protect them and exploit them, is likely to be much more appealing and effective for this segmented target audience than a general publication explaining copyright to the "general public". Apart from making it easier to develop a more specific, relevant and appealing messages, segmenting the target audience also helps to choose the appropriate communication tools, determine the best ways to distribute communication products, and develop the appropriate incentives to effectively promote the desired behavior. 

Choosing the Audience to Target

Segmenting a general audience into more specific segments and obtaining information about these is useful in determining which audience segment to target for a specific campaign. The most important factor in determining the target audience is the potential for the audience to adopt the behavior that will be promoted by the campaign.

Other factors that may influence the decision of which segment to select as the target audience could include:

  • Broad government policies prioritizing programs for particular sectors of society.
  • Ease of reaching the audience.
  • Potential for that audience to influence other audiences with a trickle-down effect.

Explore WIPO