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Audience Development

Escape from Alcatraz Swim, 2002. Photo: Sandra Cannon /

The Art of Audience Development

Audience development, in the case of online marketing, is the art of growing relationships with your targeted demographic and potential market share. The best audience development campaigns result in a swarm phenomenon in which your audience becomes brand ambassadors.

...swarm behaviour is the collective motion of a large number of self-propelled entities. Wikipedia

The sweet spot in successful audience development is when they, the audience, become part of the collective marketing campaign. A brilliant example of this is Go-Pro. If you don't know what Go-Pro is I would be shocked, but it's a small waterproof durable camera that people can use to film and photograph from unique points-of-view such as it's original use, surfing. Users of Go-pro proudly publish their photography and videos all over Internet and in social media. In doing so they become brand ambassadors, or part of the swarm, marketing Go-Pros. Go-Pro has one of the most brilliant and effective crowd sourced online marketing programs today. Even Jim Cramer on his financial television show "Mad Money" promotes Go-Pro. While Go-Pro is usually associated with Red Bull extreme type sports; surfing, skiing, flying suits, diving and being attached to remote controlled drones, Go-Pro has become everybody's camera. When Jim Cramer learned that Go-Pro reached out to a kid who had attached a camera to a kite and gotten amazing footage to use for their marketing campaign, he touted Go-Pro as a company to follow quite literally based on their swarm marketing.

In 2015 the days of guest blogging, false presence and un-authentic attempts at growing your audience is over. The only real way to to grow an audience is to immerse and participate in the audience as an authentic champion, user or producer of whatever the product is, person place or thing. The term "brand ambassador" has become a valuable paid position. The best brand ambassadors are people, places or things that actually use your product. An American Cup class sailor who wears a Rolex, a mother of small children for writing a lifestyle blog on the trials and tribulations of child rearing, a professional stunt pilot wearing a go-pro filming events or an Olympic class athlete for a product like Nike. However, brand ambassadors can grow audiences in all kinds of segmented market places.

Rolex Sponsored Farr 40 World, 2004-09-09. San Francisco Bay. Photo: Sandra Cannon/

My first position was as a "brand ambassador" (Account Manager) developing an audience for Silicon Graphics Inc. developing an audience of potential market share for their professional graphic intensive, 3D and new media authoring tools and computing boxes. It was an easy mark for me. I had been an architect at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and had worked on early CAD from the early clunky days. I got it. I was able to run a very successful campaign and became truly immersed and becoming the marketing chair person for the 3D consortium. In those days it was called VRML or Virtual Reality Mark-Up language. I was specifically marketing 3D for use on the Internet. VRML, like many technologies faded and morphed. Today Virtual Reality is making a resurgence. It was a multi-pronged high budget campaign in which I became a participating member of the swarm online and in real time at conferences and events. Much like the Go-pro campaign we used the swarm. We had contests for content and sweepstakes for products. We built the buzz and people were and wanted to be part of the swarm. In the beginning, Interforti focused solely on this market. In time, I collected many clients in the same space but other vertical markets such as chip makers, content makers, other authoring tools and peripherals.

The point is, authentically immersing in the targeted demographic is the most effective. In time, I collected many clients in the same new media authoring tools, hardware and content space but other vertical markets with clients such as Sony, Intel, and Nvidia..

Since that time I, or an Interforti team, have marketed other products including artificial intelligence, architecture and architectural products, travel, marine, adventure sports, entertainment, financial products, cameras, film, photography, authors, "wisdom" and self-help and more.

To grow your audience requires research. The research phase of marketing is an expensive part of the process, but the return on that investment is a successful market penetration. Growing your audience through a digital presence or experience, is a time investment. It has to be authentic. There is a lot to the art of audience development.

Written by Sandra Cannon, Director of Digital Experiences. Interforti

Interforti Studio. We build businesses online.

Promoting brands, businesses and products through digital media.
Partial Client List:

  • Apple
  • Alice Stienman/Artist
  • Armax Real Estate Development
  • Blue and Gold Ferries
  • Belveron Partners
  • Delizia Brand Olive Oil
  • Dendral/Artificial Intelligence
  • Franz Design Group
  • Gold Willow Coin & Bullion
  • Hacienda Cabo San Lucas
  • Hartman Producitons
  • Intel
  • Island Architecture
  • Knowlton Farms Guesthouse
  • Leslie Higgins Executive Coach
  • Lynne Leahy/Author
  • Muses Inc.
  • Olson Steel
  • Offroad Capital
  • Peter Pan Entertainment
  • National Geographic​
  • Navis/Shipping Container Software
  • Nvidia
  • Silicon Graphics Inc.
  • Suzanne Knowlton Designs
  • Sony
  • Wells Fargo
  • Wolf Coffee
  • 415-902-3804