Blimey. I got a favourable reply to my comments on Richard MacManus’ blog about Josh Kopelman’s now infamous post:
“As more and more entrepreneurs start building what Fred Wilson referred to as
second derivative companies, I think they run a big risk of designing a product/service that is targeted at too small of an audience. Too many companies
are targeting an audience of 53,651. That’s how many people subscribe to Michael
Arrington’s TechCrunch blog feed. I’m a big fan of Techcrunch – and read it every day. However, the Techcrunch audience is NOT a mainstream America audience.”
Richard asked readers for tips on how to broaden the appeal of his site. So I put in my two penneth (under the name kenobi, as usual).
I agree with post #6, but – it depends on why you want to broaden your site’s
Niche publishing (ie targeting niche audiences) can provide huge benefits if
done correctly. Also known as ‘controlled circulation’, your choosing to target
a niche audience ensures loyalty among your readers. Commercially, it also means
that your advertisers can be confident that their messages are going to chime
every time (see what I did there?) with a higher than average percentage of your
I know one major publishing house in the UK that has hundreds of mainstream
consumer titles, each one with thousands of readers. However, year on year the
magazine that delivers the most profit is a relatively modest b2b medical
magazine. Why? Because its loyal audience knows that if they want quality
information about the working of the medical industry, they should read this
mag. And advertisrs pay top dollar for that reputation.
Assuming you wanted to change it – what exactly woudl you change?
Change coverage / scope: but why dilute your offering with more inclusive
content which is a) covered elsewhere and b) covered elsewhere a lot better.
instead, do what mediaguardian.co.uk does – mention Google in your headlines on
your homepage as many times as possible. Your traffic will soar, even among more
Change language / tone: but this could put off your current reader base. The
Economist uses the alien abduction approach – explain complex global issues in a
way which assumes the reader hasn’t read a newspaper or watched TV for the last
5 years. But this can leave a sour tast in the mouth among regular readers. And
besides, your content is great.
One thing I’d explore is this: If you’re dead set on attracting larger
mainstream audiences, then make sure you please both the geeks and the
mainstream audience. This (unfortunately) means upping your output and catering
for both. As long as you continue to provide the same level of good quality
content for the ‘geeks’, they won’t mind clicking past the odd crowd pulling
Anyone care to add to the debate?