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Considering Disability and your Target Audience

I was invited to attend a Business After Hours event in Perth recently as their keynote speaker, and it gave me an opportunity to test a theory I have on customers and target markets.

Regular readers will be familiar with my Venn diagram analogy when it comes to people with disability. You’ll often hear me say ‘I am not my disability; rather, my disability makes up part of who I am’, and that’s true for ALL the parts of me – my role as a father, husband, friend and, yes, even a Freo Dockers supporter.

Yet in my experience, businesses often forget that people with disabilities make up a significant proportion of their customer base. And for them, disability is only part of the equation and not the entire focus.

You may have heard that 1 in 6 Aussies are living with disability. That’s 16.67% of the population, working out to be more than 4 million people. That’s a significant percentage of your customers owner.

And yet, often it’s only the businesses who offer specialist goods and/or services to the disability sector who are proactive about serving people with a disability. Why?

Business owners will understand the importance of understanding who their target audience is – their ideal customer who are likely to engage in their goods and/or services. That includes understanding how old they are, their cultural background, where they live and what they’re interested in. The greater understanding businesses can have on who their ideal customer is, the better they can serve them. It’s Marketing 101.

But do you want to know the truth? Disability transcends all components of what businesses consider when identifying their target audience. Disability covers all ages, locations, industries and yes, even interests! It may surprise you to know people with disability love music and arts and sport and theatre and adrenaline activities.


That’s because people with disability are just like everyone else – we’re simply people.

But instead, society tends to define us by our disability. Businesses who do this are simply missing out because they’re excluding a significant proportion of the population.

But some businesses already understand this and have considered ways to make their products and services accessible to people with disabilities. They haven’t done it in a grandiose way; rather, subtly acknowledging our existence and taking action to make sure our experience with their product works for us – whether it be setting up physical shops in an accessible way, or upgrading their websites with the right features to make it easier for people with vision and hearing impairments.

Let me tell you, these things matter.

These inclusive and clever businesses aren’t offering disability-specific goods and services; they’re everyday brands that all walks of society engage with. They’ve simply realised the importance of ensuring their entire target audience can engage with their products.


So if you’re a business owner or decision maker, I would encourage you to think about the people with disability in your target audience and whether you are unconsciously excluding them from engaging with your business. It may be worth reconsidering your marketing strategies...

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