There is a big difference between ‘knowing’ your target audience and understanding some customer demographics and behaviours. The latter leads to ineffective marketing. Do you really know your audience?
In the very early stages of engagement with new clients, we run through an internal process that we call AMMO. It’s a simple acronym that defines a framework for our discovery sessions – when we take time out to understand the “big picture.” It stands for Audience, Messaging, Media, and Metrics. In essence, who are we trying to talk to, what are we trying to say, where are we going to say it, and what are we hoping to achieve?
Audience comes first
Audience comes first for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that you can’t have marketing without a market. It may be tempting to say that marketing efforts should be focused on products and services ahead of audiences but consider this – you may have a brilliantly crafted product, but if nobody wants to buy it, you’ve wasted your time.
The B2B model for marketing is more complicated than B2C because there are often more stakeholders involved in the decision-making process. Your audience, or more accurately your audiences, are the foundations on which your marketing and communications strategies are built. Who you are talking to influences both what you want to say and where you need to say it.
Who is your target audience?
So, who is our audience? Well, through fear of oversimplifying things, you have three essential pillars: Customers, Partners, and Employees
Every member of our various audiences is on a journey, and it is marketing’s role to guide them on that journey, from discovery to advocacy. Within each of these pillars, there will be a variety of stakeholders, each sitting somewhere in a marketing funnel:
- Suspects (awareness)
- Prospects (consideration)
- Opportunities (preference)
- Customers (transaction)
The role of marketing changes throughout the buying cycle as it pushes contacts down the funnel. Whilst suspects, prospects etc. are states, it is the active process of moving them from one to another – engagement, nurture, and conversion, where understanding your audience can really make a difference.
Psychology over demography
When it comes to profiling your target audiences, demographics is a tool that has been used by B2B marketers for many years: what size company, what vertical industry, what geographical location? However, the physical characteristics of a target can only take you so far. If you want to motivate a stakeholder to move through the buying cycle, you must understand their psychology.
This is where persona modelling and mapping come into play. The more detailed your model, the greater your understanding of your target audience. Remember, this isn’t just about prospecting. Research shows that loyalty and advocacy is greatest amongst brands that demonstrate they “understand and care about” their customers.
A complete persona map details multiple aspects of your target’s psychology, from recognition of the challenges they face to their attitudes to specific media use, brand affinity and key motivators. Eliciting an emotional response to your marketing will typically have a greater impact on your target. Why we should do something is more powerful than what we should do. What we feel is more powerful than what we think.
Use the language of your target audience
One area in which businesses have historically let themselves down is in using the wrong language to try and communicate with their audience. It might be tempting to come up with a fancy new name for something, but if nobody is using it you are going to struggle for mindshare. Not everyone is going to be in the market for “innovative security and environmental control systems”, but everyone needs a door.
Impactful marketing comes from saying the right things to the right people, at the right time and in the right place. While you might get lucky from time to time, you can’t leave this kind of thing to chance.
Know who your audience is: understand their challenges and motivations, use familiar language, and put your message where they can find it.
Want to read more about digital advertising, read our blog post on Account Based Marketing.