The importance of knowing your audience

The importance of knowing your audience

Every message you share with the marketplace either attracts attention, repels attention or gets lost in the shuffle. I recently saw a magnet that read “Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe”. That rings true in both business and social circles. People like people who are like them. As leadership expert John Maxwell said “Values hold the team together, provide stability for the team to grow upon, measure the team’s performance, give direction and guidance and attract like-minded people.”

Whether you realize it or not, the daily decisions of your clients are hugely affected by who they are and how they view the world. That’s why it’s important to consider your audience when you’re planning the Marketing for your business. For example, what if I had a product that I wanted to market to the top salespeople in a real estate office. Salespeople are typically goal-oriented and like to present the outward appearance of success. If I offered a product that was helpful for their business yet slightly clunky and ugly, it would be really tough to convince successful realtors to use it.

The same theory works for your Marketing messages. Your customers need to feel like you understand them and are providing solutions that make sense in their world. It helps to think of your customers as a neighbor or friend, or even a character in a movie. By writing a detailed description of your intended customer, you’ll have a better sense of what they would find interesting to read and what would persuade them to try your product or service.

Demographics & data

Your first step is to hit the web for some basic research. While products and services can be marketed to everyone on the planet, there are usually some factors that make more sense than others. When you think about your ideal customer, what basic parameters come to mind? Are your consumers younger or older? Do they live in the city or the suburbs? Would your company appeal to men, women or both equally? Does your product require that consumers have higher amounts of disposable income? Defining these basic demographic details helps your company determine how many people fit into your target market.

Background & lifestyle

The second step to defining your audience considers where they’ve been and where they’re going to identify a pattern of motivations. Is your audience married or single? Are they workaholics or weekend warriors? What is their highest level of education? Does they prefer dogs or cats? Do they vacation at the beach or in the mountains? Do they value physical fitness? This is where the data starts to take shape and your character’s lifestyle begins to emerge. It’s important to make reasonable guesses that are based on data, and use your best judgement to avoid making unrealistic generalizations. For example, if you know one yoga instructor that likes to drive sports cars, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all yoga instructors drive sports cars. It’s also tempting to presume that all yoga instructors would drive a hybrid car, but that too is an unlikely generalization. Having an accurate descriptions of your audience justifies that there is enough demand for your product or service, so it’s important to have a true understanding of your client base.

Personality & values

The last step to defining your audience looks deeper at who they are. I use the term ‘last step’ carefully because there are 101 questions you could answer about your audience, and it’s important to continually test and update these characters over time. Here we’re drilling down to the individual to better understand your audience’s core motivations. Is their personality dominant or passive? Do they value fairness and honesty in business dealings? Do they care about what others think about them? Do they act the same in professional and social settings? This is where the human element comes into play. Understanding the true nature of your audience is how to make sure your sales message resonates with them, and they see you and your company as a member of their ‘tribe’.

As a business advisor, I practice the same principles every day. I mentally put myself in the shoes of my clients and make the same decisions I would make if their company was my own. I help my clients by first writing a detailed characterization of their intended customer, then using popular analytics tools to test if our marketing messages are appealing to the right clients. This ongoing process has a few benefits. First, by testing my Marketing campaigns I can refine my messages over time to make sure they’re appealing to my audience. Second, I can identify new audiences that are drawn to my products and this data allows me to expand the market focus and foster growth for my clients. Whether my client offers a product or a service, business always boils down to people serving people.

How can I help you understand your audience?
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