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Demographics vs Psychographics: Your Ideal Podcast Listener

Figuring out exactly WHO you’re speaking to is one of the most important tasks in podcasting. If you don’t know the listener…

Figuring out exactly WHO you're speaking to is one of the most important tasks in podcasting. If you don't know the listener on the other end of those earbuds, then it's likely your content will languish in a land of ‘meh…', forever. Simply put:

Un-targetted, un-personal content, made for everyone = un-ispiring, un-engaging content for anyone.

So, who is this real person lending you their ear-balls for a short, but significant part of their life? Sometimes we call them your ideal listener, sometimes they're an avatar, and sometimes they're a listener persona. Whatever you call them, they're a real person, and it comes down to knowing what type of real person you want to reach.

We're written more generally about finding your listener avatar before, so pop over there for the full picture. But here I want to get into a really specific tool for doing that, called psychographics. And, that includes the confusion over psychographics vs demographics.

If you've struggled with this in the past, thinking:

“But my audience is so varied! They're all so different! How do I choose just one?!”

Then psychographics might be the perfect approach for you. Let's take a look!

Demographics vs Psychographics

When you start thinking about your ideal listener, in most cases, you'll go straight to the demographics. That means grouping people by:

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  • Age
  • Gender
  • Job
  • Location

It's generally an objective, physical attribute – something the person is, or something they do.

It's a normal thing to do – we're used to grouping people by something obvious, something we can measure.

But, there's another way to group people which is far less obvious.

This time it's how they think.

Psychographics are more about psychology than tangible attributes. So it's down to a listener's values, a listener's principles, a listener's personality. Psychographics are harder to pin down, but if you get it right, they can create a really deep connection with your listener.

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When to Use Demographics

In a lot of cases, demographics can work a treat. Such as:

  1. a local news podcast for people that live in Edinburgh
  2. an educational show for dentists
  3. a comedy show targetted at 50+ christians

In all cases, you know exactly what to cover, every single week.

Is this news interesting to a person living in Edinburgh? Yes? Stick it in. Is this something that would help a dentist do their job better? Yep? Script it! Is this a joke that would make an older person of a certain religion laugh, and not offend them? Yep! Make the funny!

But, in some cases, you might find that demographics just don't create that connection, or that pesonalisation that you're looking for.

Just because someone lives in Edinburgh, it doesn't mean they're interested in every type of news. Just because you're a dentist, it doesn't mean you have the same aims as every other dentist. Just because you're a 55 year old christian, it doesn't mean you have the same sense of humour as every other 55 year old christian.

When to Use (or Add!) Psychographics

So, to really personalise, add a dash of psychographics. Let's redo those topics above:

  1. a local news podcast for people in Edinburgh who are interested in local politics and are left-leaning
  2. an educational show for dentists who want to maximise the profit they make from their practise and grow their business
  3. a comedy show targetted at 50+ christians who prefer to keep it clean

You might say that Psychographics add the why to the what. Instead of just giving them the thing, you ask them why they like the thing and give them that angle on it.

It adds the personality and the values to the content, and makes it connect much more deeply with your listener.

Psychographics and Uniqueness

Yep, this approach can really help you nail down why your podcast is unique. And that's one of the most valuable things you can do.

In a sea of podcasts, if you show the listener that you know how they think, and you share their values, then you're the one that'll stand out.

For even more on this, read a big piece I wrote on how to make your podcast more unique.

Can Psychographics Work on Their Own?

In a lot of cases, it's worthwhile combining both demographics and psychographics. That'll give you some tangible and intangible targeting, the former attracting people immediately and the latter encouraging them to stay.

But, in other cases, psychographics alone are the best fit.

An Example of Psychographics Working Solo

This example came through a recent subscriber to our email newsletter. During one of the early emails, I ask everyone, “Who is your podcast for?” Here's what he wrote back:

You’ve just asked me the HARDEST question! I’ve been a professional musician since 2011 and have been trying to answer this question since then, without success. Now here it is again!

Thing is, I have a superman who is a polish data-analyst living in London. I also have one who is a grandmother in her 70’s. I also have one who is a 16 year old girl in central USA.

They are all SO DIFFERENT. My audience spans all age-groups and all sexes, all career types and all income brackets.

So, how do I define my ideal listener!?

Guess how I responded? “You're thinking about demographics there. Have you ever considered psychographics?”

For his area in particular – entertainment – it's much more often about the psychographics.

A classic example would be the mindset that's common to a musical genre.

Are you a punk kid or an old rocker? Do you get hyped up by R&B or techno? Are you moved by jazz, or inspired by classical music?

You might identify really strongly with a musical ‘tribe': the attitude, the clothes, the ethos – how they really think.

But again, that's tying yourself into a bucket, and a lot of entertainers can't do that very easily.

So, I wonder… the granny he mentions above. That data-analyst, that girl. What attitude do they have in common? What values do they have in common? What's their mindset that you can appeal to?

The aim here is being able to put together a short message or a short pitch for your show that instantly chimes with them. Something they identify with right away. It's not their age, or what they do. It's how they think.

Again, this not only helps you create better content more easily, but it's also a great way of adding real uniqueness to your show. To see a real example of this, continuing our musical friend's question above, read more on how to nail down your podcast value proposition in the very near future. I'll update the link here when it's live.

Can You Add some Psychographics to your Ideal Listener?

Here's what to do now. Think about your current ideal listener and ask these questions about them:

  • Are there any values that they really hold dear?
  • What motivates them? What are their aims related to your topic?
  • What's their mindset? What makes the way they think different from most?

If you can put some detail on those bones, and add it to your podcast title, description and content, then your chances of attracting an engaged audience jumps by a factor of 10.

And remember, if you want any personal help with this, it's one of the first things we cover in our Launch course inside the Podcast Host Academy. Plus, we're always happy to talk it through and refine your approach in the live coaching sessions we run for all academy members. Maybe see you there!

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Written by:

Colin Gray

Colin has been teaching people how to podcast since 2007. He's worked with Universities, businesses and hobbyists alike. He started The Podcast Host to share his experience and to help as many people as possible get into Podcasting. He runs Podcraft, to spread the art of podcasting, and does the Mountain Bikes Apart podcast whenever he can. Who doesn't like to talk bikes, after all!

May 22nd 2019