Last Updated on October 7, 2021
Bungled marketing: we’ve all experienced it at one point or another. An online ad supposedly targeted at us swings completely wide of our actual interests. A TV spot on a network we’re watching is totally irrelevant to us – and to most of the other people watching that network, as well. An ad on Facebook that couldn’t be aimed at a worse target.
These marketing efforts might all be great on their own – witty, funny, or intriguing enough to be a success. The only problem is that they’re targeted at entirely the wrong audience. Somewhere along the line, the team responsible for them missed a beat, and as a result, everything falls flat.
It’s pretty obvious how you can avoid falling into the same trap, right? You just need to know your audience. Trouble is…how do you do that?
What steps can you take to ensure that you’re marketing to exactly the right people?
Look at Your Prior Marketing Efforts
As noted by Denyse Drummond-Dunn of Marketing Profs, one of the most common mistakes made when determining the direction and scope of a company’s marketing efforts is that they assume each product or audience category exists in a vacuum – that there’s no overlap between customer insights in one demographic and customer insights in another. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
The best, most successful customer insights can be applied to multiple demographics. For that reason, often the best starting point for working out your target audience is to look at the campaigns you’ve run in the past (the successful ones, at least). What customer insight were they based on, and how might you adapt that into your current campaign?
Involve Everyone in Your Organization
It’s all well and good to rely on marketing professionals to develop customer insights, but don’t forget that, experts though they may be, they’re still only human. They have their own narrow perspective that they’re operating from, and that perspective might not always be perfect. Bring in a diverse team, from all arms of your organization – from sales to production to R&D to finance. Don’t underestimate the unique insights any one of those departments might bring to the table.
Start with Basic Demographic Details, Then Narrow It Down
Next, let’s talk about developing a successful consumer profile – after all, the best marketing campaigns are devised based on the idea of an ‘ideal consumer;’ the person the marketing team wants to speak to directly. According to the Crazy Egg blog, the first step here is to start with the most basic demographic details, such as age, location, gender, income, education, marital status, occupation, etc. You want a basic idea of who your audience might be on paper, and you want to be sure that you include everyone who might possibly be interested at this stage.
Once you’ve got those details sorted out, it’s time to figure out a specific niche of that demographic to market to – Old Spice, for example, might be of interest to people of any age, but they chose to market primarily to young men in their most recent ad campaign.
Figure Out How Your Audience Talks – and How to Talk to Them
Once you’ve a working knowledge of your demographic, your next step is to figure out how they communicate with one another over social media. What sort of verbal tics are common in their conversation? What personalities seem most popular, what sort of attitudes do they display, and what sort of values resonate with them?
What about their lifestyle and hobbies? What do they enjoy, and what do they find distasteful? What social networks do they use, and what do they do online?
Puzzle Out Your Brand Archetype
Does your brand have a personality? Chances are, based on how it’s communicated with its customers, it does – but you might not like it if you haven’t actively been cultivating one. The good news is that you can reinvent it with a bit of hard work.
Let’s talk about Old Spice again. When I was younger, it was a brand targeted almost entirely at older men. It was the deodorant your father wore, the products he used. A few years later, it shifted, and began targeting its ads at a younger audience; brand mascots like Fabio and The Old Spice Guy became comedic legends amongst teens and young men alike.
So – figure out your brand’s personality and archetype, and shape it based on who you’re targeting with your marketing efforts. You can read a bit more on how you can do that here.
Determine Your Desired Reaction
Alright. You’ve got your brand personality down…now how do you want people to react to your marketing efforts? Do you want to bring people from a competitor over to your brand? To make them use your products more frequently? To change their perception?
Your marketing efforts will change based on how you want your audience to act (or react), and how you inspire that reaction will change based on your audience.
Develop Specific Insights
By now, you’ve got a ton of data about your target demographic, desired reactions, and brand identity. Use that data to develop customer insights (snippets of information about your customers that will allow you to better market to them). It’s on these insights that every successful marketing campaign is based.
“Ideally, every brand should have (at least) one customer insight on which its image and communications are based,” writes Drummond-Dunn. “The insight developed should provide the basis for determining actions intended to change the behavior of the brand’s target audience.”
Think About “Human Truths”
Another valuable piece of advice from Drummond-Dunn is that whatever insights you do develop should be based on what’s known as a “human truth.” What she means by this is that your insights should spring from statements that are true regardless of demographic. For example:
- People desire friendship and seek companionship
- Everyone likes being congratulated for a job well done
- We want meaning and purpose in our lives
Look at the needs of your target audience, and figure out what ‘truths’ would be most important to them. Use that knowledge to guide your marketing.
One last piece of advice before we wrap things up: don’t ever stop re-examining and re-evaluating your efforts. We’re living in an era where a brand’s publicity can ebb like the tides, and where information is constantly flowing. What that means is that a marketing campaign that works with your audience one month may end up stale the next; it means marketing isn’t a singular effort, but instead a constant, concerted one.
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