How to Drill Down to Your True Target Audience

December 9th, 2014

If I could give every marketer a pop quiz, it’d only have one question:

What’s the most important element in a campaign – cleverness, appearance, or relevance?

Please tell me you got the right answer. It’s relevance, of course. Every marketer worth their salt has learned that message by now; all the pretty and witty creative in the world isn’t going to hook your audience unless the message actually matters to them. Yet somehow, teams keep making that classic mistake. They focus on what they want to say, rather than what their buyers want to hear.

Dissecting your buyers might not be the most glamorous part of marketing. You might prefer to be strategizing for a new social media campaign or dreaming up taglines. Here’s the thing, though: Creating content is pointless when you don’t know who’s going to read it. It’s like buying a gift for someone you’ve never met. The gift will probably reflect your interests rather than theirs and you’ll be insulted when it’s not appreciated.

So before you invest in writing, design, and production, make sure you know who you’re talking to – and where in the funnel you want them to hear it.

Not sure whose problems you’ll be solving? Try becoming a buyer detective.

Deepen Your Buyer Personas

If your personas consist of just an industry and job title, it’s time to get serious about data. You want to target buyers with meaningful content, which means you must understand their triggers and goals – you have to move beyond their role.

Let’s start calling buyers what they are, people, and with that understand that when they walk into an office they don’t shed their human skin. As marketers we need to get to the heart of what makes people, people – emotion. Look at interest and attribute data to glean precise customer insights.

What social media do your buyers prefer? What are their daily struggles and long-term aspirations? Does their content consumption point to a specific challenge?

Map the Buyer Journey

Don’t assume every buyer follows the same path. Persona A might have a certain obstacle that keeps her stuck at a certain stage of the funnel, while Persona B may have an urgent pain point that speeds him through much faster or urges him to take different steps. You should address this via responsive nurture tracks that shift leads to different segments based on their behavior – and be aware that what seems like a hot lead can be a dead end.

Stay Agile

Your buyer personas and content programs should be dynamic, not static. Always keep evaluating and adapting, and stay nimble so you can modify as needed. By monitoring campaign performance and incorporating new insights, you’ll identify new audiences and hone in on your buyers to a granular degree.

Tap Sales and Customer Service

Surveys are all well and good, but the best feedback can come from right inside your company.

Ask your sales team what challenges or concerns your business successfully solved for new customers. Ask customer service reps the complaints and questions they hear every day. Then, use that knowledge to update your personas and create content that addresses the most pressing objections, challenges and goals.

Engage

This might seem like a conundrum: How you can engage with customers before you find out who they are? Ah, but you can. The idea is to begin broadly, then narrow your focus.

Start by soliciting input and questions on your blog. Cultivate a thriving social community and see who your brand evangelists are. Involve customers in your product and service creation; they’ll feel valued and you’ll get priceless, real-time data to shape your strategies.

Remember, everyone wants to feel connected to their favorite brands – and the customers who respond to your initiatives will provide a treasure trove of audience insights.

Listen

Too many businesses are stuck in one-way marketing programs that are more like a monologue than a dialogue. But marketing is like dating; talking about yourself all night usually means you don’t get a second date. To keep your customers coming back, you have to be a good listener. Instead of ignoring online comments and reviews, pay attention to who’s leaving them. Monitor social conversations and find out what people are saying about you. You might be surprised by who’s interested and who’s not – and you’ll probably think of a few ways to convert indifference into curiosity.

Too many businesses pump out one-size-fits-most content and expect it to attract leads and drive sales as if by magic. But to really build a supercharged sales and marketing ecosystem, you must understand who you’re targeting. We live in an era rich with data – so keep drilling down into your buyer details and eventually you’ll strike gold.

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