Segmenting Audiences - Advice for Schools


The ever changing face of schools now means a who new set of skills is needed by those who run them. With the internet now providing up-to-the-minute information at the fingertips of the schools audience, it’s imperative to consider the audience being communicated with, it isn’t just pupils and guardians any more.

One of the most established forms of segmenting audiences is demographics. This is a proven method of segmenting people by their implied social status based on income, lifestyle and location. Whilst hard data such as this along with age, marital status and ethnicity can be beneficial, a more targeted and scientific method is to focus on psychographics. This method of understanding your audience gives you a much deeper look into the audience you’re dealing with and understand what really pushes their buttons.

So who do we target?

To get this right, get a clear understanding of what you are actually communicating to them - schools often make the mistake of trying to tell everything in one advertising message - try and avoid this, break your messages into different communications or the receiver will switch off. Plan these messages to go out over a period of time, almost ‘drip feeding‘ them to the audience so it builds up a picture in their mind over time, of everything you want them to hear. Once you have done this, understand what issues and agendas are important to them. Here is one range of profiles (and the % mix of the audience) used to target an audience who will be engaged by environmental issues for a schools campaign to engage a local audience:

LOHAS (lifestyle of health and sustainability) 16%

The most progressive segment who are completely engaged in environmental matters

Naturalites 25%

More concerned with personal health and wellbeing, using organic products and want to do more for the environment

Conventionals 23%

Interested in green issues that make sense for everyone

Drifters 23%

Not really concerned with environmental issues but want to be perceived as ‘green’

Unconcerned 13%

Have more important priorities and not engaged by the environmental agenda

By using this message of segmentation, the school was better able to understand how to get the messaging right to engage the audience without making the LOHAS and Naturalites feel as though they were being told things they already knew, whilst striking a balance with the message being received by Conventionals and Drifters.

Getting it right

In summary, here are the key imperatives when it comes to focusing your message to your audience: Research your audience - what is important to them (local issues, the environment, school fees etc)

Get your message right - spend time working with the right people (marketing agency, key stakeholders at the school) to ensure you hit the spot first time

  • Think lifestyles, behaviours, attitudes, and not just what you want to tell them
  • Are there any frequently recurring themes raised in school you can anchor in your messaging
  • What are the local priorities that may resonate with the audience
  • Ensure relevance with your audience