The Strength of Unbalance

Daily Candy worked best when it aimed for its core demographic, but should it have expanded?

Daily Candy worked best when it aimed for its core demographic, but should it have expanded?

Recently, I talked about how some Broadway marketers are troubled by the relative lack of straight men coming to Broadway shows compared to the past. The thought there is that these men are a good, lucrative audience that they’re missing.

That may well be true, but hidden inside that thought is the assumption that it would be better to have a “balanced” audience of men and women, or at least something closer to balance.

Sometimes though, balance doesn’t make sense or have any value, and chasing it can be a giant waste of time and resources.

Putting aside the specific example of Broadway, let’s talk about where we find “unbalanced” audiences. Daily Candy was one of the most powerful online brands of the last decade (though sadly mismanaged and shut down recently by NBC Universal). If you were a woman between the ages of 25 and 40 and you lived in a large American city, then you almost certainly knew about Daily Candy and you probably subscribed to their emails. The male counterparts of those women, the guys those women dated never heard of it. The audience must have been 99% women (and the remaining 1% were men who work in marketing trying to figure out how to make money on that audience.)

Should Daily Candy have tried to “balance” its audience with more men? Professional Wrestling has an audience that’s largely dominated by men. This isn’t necessarily a problem for them unless the core audience loses interest or goes away.

Being unbalanced means you can really serve the people who get you and who you’re designed for. It’s not always the right way to think, but it’s not always wrong, either. If your core audience is large enough, passionate enough and has enough room for you to grow into, you might be better off investing those resources in figuring out how to be even more important, valuable, interesting and special to the people who love you the most. Trying to appeal to that mythical “untapped” audience could be a fool’s errand.

In battle, commanders often try to create imbalance: to get the enemy to “balance” his forces across all points on the battlefield, while he commits massive resources at the one place that really matters.

In marketing live entertainment, the same idea holds. For your particular kind of product, is there one “place” that really matters? If so, balance isn’t that important. Having massive focus on that one place, on the other hand, might determine whether you succeed or not.

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