Research Reveals the Key to Making Your Audience Happy

How to Make Your Audience Happy

It stands to reason that the more you are able to satisfy the wants of your audience, you, as a business owner, will make more money. Research and Malcolm Gladwell, TED Talk

But the age old question is: How?

How do you make your audience happy?

Malcolm Gladwell has the answers from food research.

Gladwell has made a career as an author by asking interesting questions and finding the answers to those questions.  In a TED video,  Malcolm explains the history of how the food industry was able to delight not just one but many audiences.

What follows are some of the key highlights from Gladwell’s TED talk on food research as well as some questions these facts pose for the independent business owner on Main Street.

1.  Asking the Right Research Question

Howard Moskowitz, Malcolm’s food researcher, went about researching a typical problem back in the 70’s and discovered his research didn’t work.  Rather than shrugging his shoulders, he kept wondering ‘why’ his research didn’t work.  He discovered the client and he were asking the wrong question.

The research question wasn’t: How to create a perfect product?

The real question was: How to create a combination of products that meet different wants? 

By asking the right question, Howard and his clients tapped into entire new markets and new opportunities.


  • Are you asking the right questions in your business or are you simply doing things the same as you did years ago?
  • What opportunities is this old thinking costing you and your business?

2.  Uniformity vs. Diversity

Prior to the ‘70’s, our society was like similar to a herd of cows.  We were homogenized into a standard of what was or wasn’t acceptable.  Standing out, being different was frown upon.

Today, diversity is embraced and serves to give the rest of us permission to do the same – to identify and feel free in expressing our own unique wants and desires no matter how absurd.  In fact, the more absurd our wants, actions, desires, the more popular, the more viral they become.

Howard referred to this diversity as horizontal segmentation – offering different products to meet different audience wants.  Chris Anderson also demonstrated the importance of diversity and variety in his book, The Long Tail.


  • Is your business branching out to offer more of what your customers want or are you allowing your competitors to meet their wants?
  • Are you experimenting with your product offerings, your delivery, your services to spice them up and make them seem fresh again?

3.  A deeper understanding of your Audience

Malcolm describes how the spaghetti sauce industry moved from a traditional runny Italian sauce to a thick and chunky through research that became a market success.  Eventually, a brand of spaghetti sauce morphed into 36 different varieties – each variety designed to fill the wants of a specific audience cluster.

In order to do this, food companies had to uncover the deeper wants of their audience AND they had to be open to the results.


  • Do you have a deep or deeper understanding of your audience?
  • Do you know which customers mean the most to your business?
  • Do you make it a practice to find out more about your audience and what they want or are you assuming they will always be / stay the same?

4.  Striving for 75%   

Malcolm describes a process where if a group created a blend of coffee and the group rated that blend, the average score would be about 60%.

If the group was broken into segments of different types of coffee drinkers and they created a blend, the average score would be around 75% or 78%.

The difference between a 60% score and a 75% score is a cup of coffee that makes you wince and one that makes you deliriously happy.


  • What steps are you taking to make your audience deliriously happy?

Bottom Line?

There is no one way to treat all of your customers.

AND, however you have been treating your audience needs to be revamped, reconsidered and renewed often.

As people satisfy one want, another want forms.

To make and keep your audience happy, you have to stay on top of what they want.

Below you’ll find the TED Talk given by Malcolm Gladwell.  It’s a short and entertaining piece that I think you’ll enjoy and offers a lot of value.


If you want to find out more about profiling your audience, you can start with this post.

Want to learn how to profile your audience?  You can sign-up for the free Buyer Persona workbook and it will walk you through the process.

Or, if you want to take it a step farther, you could always check out my ebook:  Marketing Online Made Simple – WHO. It walks you through each of the steps to identify your key audience and how to profile and find your audience online.



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Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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