Amanda Luedeke

October 9, 2013

A Wednesday with Amanda: Finding Your Audience Is as Easy as Watching a Movie



Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

We’re talking about my book this week on the blog (if you haven’t noticed), and so I wanted to share this excerpt with you.

In The Extroverted Writer, I don’t just talk social media. I talk about truly identifying your audience. Because without a handle on who your readers are (what they look like, what they enjoy doing, what they spend their money on, etc.), you’re bound to enact a bunch of marketing efforts that won’t even come close to reaching them. In other words, you’re bound to waste your time.

In the book, I provide a number of strategies and tips on identifying your audience, and this one is my favorite…

The Theater Test
My parents really wanted to see the movie The Iron Lady, a biopic about Margaret Thatcher. So, the three of us went to the theater and took our seats. I really enjoyed the movie and found it quite moving, so much so that I would probably recommend it to my friends if the subject came up.

Right after the movie ended and the lights came back on, I remember standing up and realizing that I was younger than everyone else in the room by at least twenty years (I was twenty-eight at the time). Not only that, but I realized that almost everyone there was with his or her spouse. And they were all white people, probably conservatives (they had that look about them), and they seemed to fall in the middle or upper middle class.

Okay, so basically, they were all clones of my parents.

If The Iron Lady were a book, many new authors would want to say that it appeals to young and old, conservatives and moderates alike. They would back up their claim and say, “See! There is a twenty-eight-year-old libertarian among the viewers!”

I would have skewed their data wildly, and they would have loved it. But I was not the target audience for that movie. Yes, I enjoyed it, and yes, I would speak highly of it. But those who were most willing to purchase tickets fell into a very distinct category, and the moviemakers would have been silly to think otherwise.

This is what I mean when I say know your audience. Have the ability to filter out those that skew your numbers and focus on what is blatantly in front of you.

Why do this? Because knowing your audience makes it so much easier to market your book.
The previews that aired before The Iron Lady were all targeted at that specific audience. They were all either feel-good stories (Nicholas Sparks-type movies) or patriotic flicks. Moviemakers of those movies knew their target audience. They knew they’d be attending The Iron Lady, so that’s where they put their marketing dollars and efforts. And it worked. (My parents oohed and aahed at each preview.)

Your first task before you do anything else is to find your audience.

Read more here (Amazon) or here (B&N).

I highly recommend using movies as a method of uncovering your fiction audience.

Avoid the blockbuster movies, because your data will definitely be skewed. Instead, find the middle-of-the-road movies that will truly draw viewers that WANT and have CHOSEN to be there. Viewers that are there because they

love the genre…not just because the movie had a bunch of hype.

Buy a ticket. Sit in the seat. See who filters in. There should be a clear trend regarding age, gender, etc. These people are your target readers, my friends. Take note!

So with this in mind, what movies will you or should have have targeted this year for audience research on your current novel?


*Love my marketing advice? Check out my $5 ebook, The Extroverted Writer.

Here’s what readers are saying: “…it doesn’t just tell you the things you should be doing. It shows you how to do those things.” – Chris Kolmorgen, Amazon Review

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  • Shaun Ryan says:

    I totally get it and agree. People who bought tickets to The Place Beyond The Pines or, going back a few years, Mystic River, would be my audience, not viewers who flocked to The Butler or The Wolverine.

  • Carey Green says:

    This is a GREAT idea Amanda… no doubt. I wonder how it would be taken if an author went a step further to go to said movies and give out free copies of the first chapter of their book? Thoughts… besides that said author would likely get kicked out of the theater?

  • Peggotty says:

    Good insight, Amanda. Tonight I’m attending a special event at our Tinseltown put on by Fathom Events. It’s a program about the art of Vermeer accompanied with great music. I just hope my friend and I aren’t the only ones in the theater.

  • Robin Patchen says:

    Great suggestion, but I never go to the movies. Well, not never. We took the kids to see…something with Tom Cruise on New Year’s Eve. But the system could still work for me, so I went to my local Tinseltown website to see what was playing. Surely one of the movies would be a good fit for my target audience.

    All I’ve learned so far is that there’s a reason I never go to the movies. Aside from Grace Unplugged, there wasn’t a one of them that my target audience would like. And even that is probably geared toward younger women. Apparently I’m not the only 40-something woman who doesn’t go to the movies.

    Still, I’m going to keep looking.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      I don’t go to movies much either, Robin! But this is for research, not entertainment! So maybe you can make an exception 🙂

    • Robin Patchen says:

      Definitely. But which one? I don’t think I’m going to find my audience in Machete Kills or Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. Therein lies the rub. 🙂

  • Peter DeHaan says:

    Don’t laugh, but my wife and I recently went to a matinee of The Smurfs 2. We were by far the oldest people there.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      And this illustrates the point perfectly! Even though you attended and probably enjoyed the movie, you weren’t the core viewership. So, had the movie’s marketers been paying attention to the audience, they would have had to separate you from the pack 🙂

  • Ron Estrada says:

    I loved that portion of your book. I’ve also noted the commercials that play during TV movies and programs. If a commercial for Medic Alert comes on, I tell my wife we’re too young for this show. Commercials are a dead giveaway. Someone spent a l ot of money making sure they were hitting the right audience.

    • Peggotty says:

      Hi, Ron-
      Might I respectfully suggest that, like Amanda, you and your wife may enjoy the show and not fall within the demographic. I’ve enjoyed Andy Griffith reruns for years, but mute the commercials. 😉

    • Ron Estrada says:

      I figured it just meant that I was wise beyond my years. With me it was Newhart.

    • Peggotty says:

      Yes! Exactly right.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Yep! It’s funny when you begin to notice that you’re actually a fringe consumer of a certain product or show 🙂

  • :Donna Marie says:

    Amanda, I think this is an EXcellent way to figure out target audience. What a suggestion! 😀

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