Know Your Audience. And Speak to It.

By Lindsey Laughlin

Before coming to Gravity Group, I worked in the sales and marketing department of a large company and had the same responsibility as many of our clients: marketing the company’s products and services to its target audience.  The problem was that we didn’t actually target our audience (even though we had spent resources defining it).

What do I mean?  Well, anytime a media rep would call and ask about our audience (so they could inevitably tell us what a perfect fit their station/magazine/newspaper/etc. was for us), our canned response was always that everybody could use our product. Although it was true that anybody could use our product, the reality was that not everybody did use our product. And by trying to market to everybody, we were marketing to nobody.

Let me give you an example. Pretend I own a five-star restaurant that is known for its steak.  My primary audience is people who love steak and can afford to eat at an expensive restaurant. However, I advertise in a vegetarian magazine and the weekly coupon circular that everyone receives for free in hopes of attracting new clientele.  My example may be outrageous, but you get my point.  If I dilute my message to attract a broader audience, I’m not effectively serving the people who would actually have bought my product in the first place—I’m wasting precious marketing dollars trying to speak to people who aren’t listening (and never will).

How do you avoid speaking to nobody in your advertising?  Know your audience.  Study purchase data and trends. Look at your audience’s demographics-such as age, gender, and where they live— but research psychographics as well.  This will put you in the mind of your buyer.  Once you have that information, you can develop a marketing strategy and messaging that speaks to your specific audience.

What do you do once you know your audience? Be upfront about what you want them to do and how you want them to do it. If you don’t communicate to your audience what they’re to do (and how), they won’t do it. If I want people to eat at my restaurant, my ad will include a call to action and location information. If the goal is to have them sign up for a newsletter, the message will highlight the benefits of the newsletter with the appropriate call to action and website address for them to sign up.

At the end of the day, your audience is the most important resource you have. You’re in business to serve them through the products and services you offer, and when you put them first, you’re laying the foundation for success.

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