June 07, 2008

Audience Development

Back in 1990 at Lands' End, our circulation department was called "Customer Planning and Development".

Now we read (thanks DMNews) that Circulation Managers are becoming known as Audience Developers.

I had numerous meetings at the recent ACCM conference with individuals about the evolution of jobs from "circulation" to "audience development".

Audience Development takes many forms.
  • Renting or Exchanging names/addresses (with customer permission, right?) with competitors.
  • Renting or Exchanging e-mail address (with customer permission, of course) with competitors.
  • Developing audiences on Facebook, MySpace, Blogs, Forums, Twitter, etc. via audience participation, giving the audience something so that they have a relationship with you prior to having a need for your products/services.
Nine out of ten folks at ACCM offered blank stares when this topic was discussed. Lots of heads nodded with approval of the concept ... lots of head scratching over how to implement the concept.

Five or ten years from now, we'll be halfway through our transition from marketing to lists to developing audiences. Until then, this is a magical period where trial and error are the norm, a period where experimentation is highly encouraged.


  1. To me, the expression “audience development” is an expansion of the concept of “customer relationship management.” I call this “prospect relationship management.” But to be honest, I think I prefer “audience development.”

    For my BtoB clients, we clearly define our target markets to generate leads. But that is only the beginning.

    It’s what we do with the growing prospect (dare I say it) Inquiry List that builds a connection with interested individuals that pays big dividends over time.

    I do not foresee an abandonment of lists or list segmentation. But what I do envision are better ways to build relationships with prospects before generating the leads and after the sale occurs.

  2. Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it!


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