STEP TWO: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
The second step of this 10 Step Digital Marketing Strategy is all about identifying and truly getting to know your audience. I can’t stress enough the importance of this step. Everything that comes after this will be built on what you know and want to learn about your audience.
There are many schools of thought on how to best evaluate and understand your target market. None are without limitations, but I prefer to keep it simple – since we know that if it isn’t simple, it doesn’t get done. Thus, I break it down into another 3 steps: Paint a Quick Picture, Dig into the Facts and Reveal the Insights.
HOW TO GET TO KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
- Paint a Quick Picture
One of the easiest ways to understand your market is to STOP talking about them in theoretical terms and start drawing a literal picture – or creating a persona. First, work from your ‘gut’ and picture one of your customers in your mind and then write down one sentence or a few words to describe her (or him). Then, write down her name (or a representative name). Giving the ‘persona’ a name will help make them real and ensure that your marketing efforts are personal instead of corporate, sterile garbage. Finally, pop into Google Images and see if you can find an actual photograph to represent this persona. Save the picture, print it up, do whatever it takes to engrain this person in your mind.
- Dig into the Facts
This is the stage where you get to put your ‘gut’ away for a bit and focus on cold, hard facts. It is worth spending some time mining this information on the web, especially as you think about a social media strategy, as you will need to learn about how your target audience behaves online. To start, list everything you can about your target audience that you know to be true. This might include demographics (age, sex, location, family size, average income), life-stage (student, young professional, new parent, retired, etc), career, lifestyle and hobbies.
You may have heard comments in-person from your customers, but the beauty of the internet today is that it is very easy and free to do some of that listening yourself online. Understanding what is already being said about your industry and product* is crucial to building an effective digital media strategy.
*When we say ‘product’, we also mean service. In fact, I recommend your treat your services as products. It makes them more tangible and defined.
- Reveal the Insights
Finally, to truly connect with your audience you need to do more than simply identify who they are and what they do. You need to identify how they feel and why they buy your product. This is by far the most difficult step, but is also the difference between great marketing that connects you deeply with your customers and poor marketing that is, well… poor.
Consumer/customer insights are about understanding how your ‘persona’ feels about a particular problem that your product could potentially solve.
Try to really get in the head of your customer and feel what they might be feeling. Then, in the first person state the issue, need or desire that you (your audience) has that your product provides a solution for. As you do this, try not to mention your brand or product. The reason there is so much bad advertising out there is because marketers don’t think enough about true emotional insights, rather they focus on the product itself.
To develop strong insights, ask yourself the below questions.
- What rational need or desire does your productfill?
- What emotional need or desire does your product fill?
I know this is a heavy step, but it is so critical to the success of your business, not just from a marketing point of view, but from a deep understanding of the value that your service provides for your customers.
If you can’t come up with a strong insight in relation to your audience, then maybe your product isn’t serving the correct need. So sit down and give it a go… think Mel Gibson in “What Women Want” and truly try and understand your market. If you don’t get them you can’t talk to them and if you can’t talk to them, you can’t sell to them, and if you can’t sell to them — well, you get the picture.