Whether your marketing includes developing a strategy for public relations, email campaigns, or social media, there’s one important factor you must consider: knowing your target audience. The marketing programs you implement, the media channels you use to communicate and the messages used in your communications must all pertain to your target audience.
Many companies think that putting together clever and innovative marketing programs is all they need to do to build awareness and generate sales leads, but if they don’t focus on who those programs are directed to (and what messages will resonate with them), they are just wasting their time and money. Those programs will hit a dead end, as they will fail to communicate, engage and connect with the target audience.
So, Who is Your Target Audience?
Your target audience can be a number of different groups, but mainly it’s potential customers. More precisely, it’s who the actual buyers and users are of your products and services (which can be different people). If you are a business-to-business provider, are you selling to companies of a certain size, or in a specific market or geographical area? Is there a person in a specific role in those companies who would be the user or buyer, or a gatekeeper to or influencer with the buyer?
If you sell to consumers, think about the demographics of the people who would use your products or services — the age group (Tweens, Millennials, Baby Boomers), gender, marital status, family status (children/no children), education, location, etc. Also bear in mind who might be the buyers but not necessarily the users of your product (for example, parents buying toys and games for kids, women buying personal products for male partners).
In addition to prospective customers, your target audience may include current customers you want to reach out and connect with to maintain the relationship, or former customers you’d like to return to the fold.
Depending on your business goals, your target audience could also include prospective partners — other companies or vendors with whom you could collaborate to offer complementary or integrated products or services. You may also want to target investors if you are looking for venture capital or financial resources.
Do Your Homework
To ensure you have an accurate picture of who your target audience is, you may need to do some research. Take a look at current customers and sales and who’s following you on social media. Also conduct research on the market, looking at competitors, other market players and purchasing trends and patterns. You may want to conduct surveys or focus groups with current and prospective customers to confirm you have a handle on who your buyers and users are and what’s important to them.
Once you’ve got all the facts, you can create customer profiles or “personas” to refer to for guidance with planning and implementing your marketing programs. Personas are humanized versions of a customer profile that outline the goals, needs, challenges and vendor interaction preferences of a specific (but fictional) person in a specific role. Creating personas can provide you with the best representation of your ideal customer.
Next, Get Focused
By knowing your target audience inside and out, you’ll be able to communicate with them effectively. You can optimally create your marketing messages and ensure you have messages that will resonate with them — identifying your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and UVP (Unique Value Proposition), which I discussed in my blog, “Figuring Out What’s In It For the Customer.”
Knowing your target audience and understanding their demographics, habits and preferences will also help you determine the best media channels to use to reach your audience. You’ll know which social media platforms they prefer to use (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or all three), and which traditional media outlets they go to for information (such as local newspapers, business and trade magazines, radio and television). You’ll know whether it makes sense to do email marketing versus a direct mail campaign (or both).
You want to not only know who your target audience is, but also who isn’t your target audience. You don’t want your message to be directed at the wrong audience, because people will only respond to something they think is aimed at them personally. That’s why you need to make sure you have a message that resonates with your target audience and make refinements to that message as needed to make sure it isn’t accidently directed at people who aren’t your target audience.
Whatever your business is trying to achieve with your marketing communications and content, always bear in mind the people on the receiving end. Doing so will best ensure you get the response and engagement you desire, and ultimately obtain the ROI you expect from your marketing efforts.