Identifying Your Audience: A Look at San Miguel de Allende
When I’m working with clients and I ask them who their audience is and they answer “everyone”, that’s the wrong answer. Yes, there are big consumer brands for whom their audience well may be everyone, but these guys have time and money and big staffs to make this work. The rest of us need to work more efficiently; we want to carefully define our audience so that we can market ourselves more effectively, getting more bang out of our marketing efforts.
San Miguel has defined their audience
We just returned from a week in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico—our second trip to this beautiful city a few hours north of Mexico City. San Miguel combines sophistication, small-town charm, natural beauty and affordability. Unlike a trip to Cancun, which is pure gringoland, you can visit San Miguel and know that you’ve experienced another culture. From a marketing standpoint, you have to stand back and wonder how this culture developed. Somewhere along the line, San Miguel decided to become an upscale art center and attract Americans. They defined their audience and went about creating a city to which Americans would love to visit, live and/or keep coming back.
This isn’t a resort—there’s a culture and community here
There’s a huge expat community of retired Americans that discovered this city’s mild weather and relatively easy access—just a four-hour flight from San Francisco. There are museums and the Library, which seems to be about a lot more than books. It’s impossible not to fall in love with this city as you walk up and down its hills, peek into its courtyards, shops and workrooms. There is an unofficial color palette, variations on rich terra cotta tones. It’s a very dense city, with no room for parks, so rooftops become the city’s playgrounds. Each rooftop is decorated with potted plants, populated with outdoor furniture and umbrellas, some even with small pools.
Amenities, services and the food
San Miguel knew that in order to attract the Americans who would be spending money in their city they needed to provide amenities and services that resembled those they are used to getting at home or in other prime travel destinations. Good restaurants that serve continental and western food—not just the ubiquitous tacos, enchiladas and other variations on standard Mexican cuisine. The best restaurants are serving wonderful food whose prices are only slightly less than what we pay at home.
Hotels—increasingly sophisticated and expensive
San Miguel is situated on a series of hills, and there are clearly strict zoning regulations. There are no trashy neon billboards, chain restaurants or hotels. Instead, the accommodations are small boutique hotels at a range of price points. We made plane reservations for early March, then dragged our feet on getting a hotel—when we got around to making some calls, everything was booked. We finally found a suite at L’Otel, the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever stayed in. Decorated in soft, muted tones, plush furnishings, a lavish breakfast with gorgeous fresh fruit, pastries and egg dishes, rooftop deck, handpainted bathroom tiles, afternoon Margaritas—and the true indicator of ultimate luxury—monogramed toilet paper. It was hideously expensive, but being pampered every once in a while can’t be a bad thing.
San Miguel—the little Mexican town that could
As a tourist, it’s impossible to know what came first—was it the art studios; the interesting shops and boutiques; or was it the hotels and the restaurants that drove development? At this point, it doesn’t matter; clearly they are all contributing to the overall character of San Miguel, a city that’s not just a place that people want to visit, but visit again. Peaceful, tranquil and hospitable. A little Mexican town that defined its audience and is enjoying the fruit of its efforts—American dollars fueling the local economy.