Yesterday I met with a potential client who was ready to hire me for a specific project. This is obviously an excellent beginning to a meeting. I didn’t need to explain why I was a great choice to help them with the project, we were already onto the details–logistics, content, message. But, as I gained a better understanding of their target audience, I had to stop and rethink the entire approach. Their marketing project was not a good fit for their audience.

I could have simply agreed with them and allowed them to hire me for the specific project they had created. And a year ago, when I had less confidence in my expertise, I might have done that. The customer is always right, right? Wrong. They were meeting with me as a marketing consultant. They wanted me to review their idea and see how it could be best executed. I would have done them a disservice had I not given my opinion on the overall approach. The technique and the marketing channel did not fit their audience.

I see this a lot in the world of small business marketing. Business owners hear that social media is the thing to do, so they register for every social media platform and after a few short weeks or even days, all of their accounts are stagnant. Their efforts went nowhere. Or they throw together a brochure outlining their services because they’ve heard this is what they need. But their low-quality brochure actually does them a disservice to their high-end clientele. They’d have been better off not giving anything at all.

To Effectively Reach Your Ideal Audience You Need to Determine 3 Things:

  1. Who is your audience
  2. Where is your audience
  3. How do you speak to your audience

Like everything in marketing, determining this takes time and trial and error. But following this concept will point you in the right direction.

Who Is Your Audience?

Get as specific as possible here. First determine the key demographics of your ideal consumer: age, gender, marital status, income, education level, interests, homeownership status, etc. The importance of these categories vary depending on the industry, but you have to narrow it down to at least a few to reduce your customer pool. For example, an HVAC company would want to target homeowners, while that category would matter less with a local wine shop.

To solidify your ideal audience demographics, it’s helpful to develop a profile of who this person is. Give them a name and outline their key demographics and interests.

For example, the HVAC company’s customer profile could read:

Jack Smith:

  • 55-years-old
  • Married with 2 grown children
  • Home Owner
  • College Educated
  • White collar career – $100k+/year
  • Enjoys golf, skiing, and supporting the football program at his Alma Mater- CU Boulder (Go Buffs)

Where Is Your Audience?

Once those demographics are outlined, look into marketing channels where that ideal customer flocks. Sometimes these channels aren’t obvious and do require a degree of testing to determine if they are truly right for your business. However, if you perform a little research (or hire someone to do this for you) you can get a good idea if a marketing channel reaches your ideal customer. In the beginning, target no more than 3 channels, but do them really well. Invest at least 3 months to start gaining traction and determine if your approach works for your audience and your ideal audience is truly there.

Using the Jack Smith example above, research where Jack consumes his news and other content. Are there certain neighborhoods or parts of town where he would be more likely to live? If so, you could get a highly targeted ad in a hyper-local publication, like a neighborhood newsletter. To compliment this old-fashioned print option, utilize digital advertising as well. The audience in Jack’s age range is rapidly growing on Facebook and you could do an ad campaign targeting people just like him. Facebook ads allow you to get very specific on targeting options (read more here- link to FB ads article) for a reasonable investment. And third, depending on your budget you could choose a radio campaign on stations Jack listens to, digital retargeting ads to reach Jack when he consumes his news online, or a direct marketing campaign in Jack’s neighborhood.

How To Speak To Your Audience

 After you’ve determined the “who” and the “where” you must define the “how”. This piece is a combination of your business’s voice (link to marketing voice blog) and your ideal audience. Using the example above, the HVAC company needs to speak to Jack in a way that both demonstrates the values of their company and makes Jack care about those values. This is likely the most difficult to get right, but the good news is, you can shift and test this continuously. For example, you can run a series of digital ads, A/B test them for messaging (among other variables), and continuously improve your campaign.

The HVAC company can appeal to Jack’s interest in improving his home by offering home improvement tips alongside an HVAC service discount. Or they can appeal to his favorite sport by showing imagery of a skier and saying they will keep his home warm for him when he gets back from the slopes.

There are a number of techniques associated with the “how” piece of speaking to your audience. For social media, Gary Vaynerchuck’s book, Jab, Jab, Jab ,Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story In A Noisy Social World, goes over some great approaches. But the point is, you have to consider the audience in your messaging. Create messages that resonate with them and make them notice you and care.

Make it about them, not about you!

This concept resonated well with the aforementioned client. We decided to pull their original project idea and instead create a campaign highly targeted for their affluent audience. They were able to save considerable time and money by identifying their audience before solidifying their approach.

If you’d like help designing marketing campaigns for your business’s ideal audience, contact Mariposa Marketing. Our marketing analysis will assess the effectiveness of your current efforts and craft new campaigns catered to your audience.