My Target Demographic

When I was editing magazines, everyone always wanted to know, Who is your target demographic? And I always thought: people with lively minds. It seemed to me that any general interest publication’s most crucial audience was people who cared for, were curious about and interested in the world around them. What became very clear over 25 years was that this group cut across any traditional idea of a discrete segment: It could as easily be a janitor as a hedge fund manager, a 13-year-old or an octogenarian, a recent immigrant or a D.A.R. blue blood. More than IQ level, membership only really required an open mind and an outward focus. These people were receptive to new information, even if it ran counter to their expectations. They thought critically, but were willing to be persuaded by facts and reason. They felt things, and delighted in the mysteries of the world. They are people who are truly alive, as opposed to merely living.

And yet, because they don’t fit into an easy slot, they are invisible to many in the media, who in any case wouldn’t know what to do with them. Just as they are difficult to categorize, so is the content which appeals to them. The one thing for certain is: you can’t do it with a formula. What you need to do is present materially which is original, honest, and authentically interesting, created for its own sake, rather than as a tool to manipulate an audience.

So you can see why the janitor-hedge fund manager demographic hasn’t gotten as much attention as it deserves. It’s just so damn hard to exploit.

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