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Okay, that’s not strictly true, but it is true that podcast demographics aren’t terribly important to me for the purposes of audience building. Why? Because this is new media, not broadcast media. What’s the difference?

In broadcast media, you send out a message to your target audience and hope there’s enough relevant people in that database that some of them take action and buy your product or service. Broadcast marketers tend not to give a rat’s ass about feedback unless it involves a lawsuit; the only feedback they want to hear is the ringing of the cash register.

In new media, you send out a message to people who want to hear from you. Not only do they want to hear from you, they want to talk to you and each other, and if you do your job well as a new media creator, they’ll want to talk to lots of other people about your media. Here’s the thing. Except for the highest profile people like the Scobles and Pirillos of the world, it’s very hard to quickly make a judgement call on who is an influencer and who is not. Thus, either you spend a crapload of time researching everyone carefully in your database, or you treat everyone like an influencer.

That’s the secret that broadcast marketers are missing. For example, with my show, the Financial Aid Podcast, a broadcast marketer would say, okay, the audience is students, so specifically market and target 18 – 21 year old American students. If a listener who is a 33 year old parent of an 8 year old and a 5 year old, broadcast marketing tactics would say completely ignore that person, because they have no sales potential.

However, that broadcast marketer is going to miss the fact that said parent has their own podcast with thousands of listeners, and a positive mention of your show could instantly add 10% more audience to your own show. New media marketers understand this one fundamental tenet (which is also a Buddhist one):

Everyone is connected.

In your marketing efforts, step back and think about your audience, whether you’re a broadcast marketer or a new media marketer. Are you excluding a group of people from your market segmentations – and if you are, who do they know that you’re no longer able to reach? If you have advertising on your podcast – do your advertisers understand that demographics are less important than word of mouth and influence?

Edit: I’m clarifying this post to mean demographics shouldn’t matter as much for your audience building efforts as a podcaster. The subsequent post will explain why they’re still relevant to advertisers.