ready, research, aim: identifying and understanding your target audience
It’s officially time to say Happy Holidays! May you and yours celebrate the season in such a fashion that brings family and friends together across tradition to celebrate tradition and the spirit of the season. We’re also excited to be kicking off a four-part series on the blog, where we’ll be discussing your audience and their perception of you and your brand, followed by identifying your competitors or your audience’s distractions and strategizing to differentiate and separate yourself to elevate your brand.
Whew! What a mouthful. So first up: your audience and their perception that creates your reality. We’re calling it the Reconnaissance Series, both because it’s an apt term and the term comes with a certain presence that makes this seem a little more adventurous. And we also might be hopelessly pretentious when it comes to terminology and nomenclature. See? Helpless in face of the force. So welcome to December – we’re all happy to be here to close out the year (together, and with great content!)
So here’s what’s up:
ready, research, aim: identifying and understanding your target audience (you are here)
here's looking at you: analyzing your public perception and future state goals (next week)
you on the field: locating your brand within your market (the week after that)
play-calling and shot-making: strategizing and preparing for your brand distractions (the last week of the year, yo)
So you’ve had a Big Idea. Or what you’d like to think is a Big Idea. Now is the time to start thinking about two primary things:
what exactly your Big Idea is and
who else will be interested in your Big Idea.
Truly, your audience should be the next thing you consider after what you’re actually doing has been decided. So, there’s a lot of thinking to do at the forefront. Define and distill the Big Idea. Get a really good grasp on the Why/Who/What of your brand. Then you’re ready to start sketching out your audience – the people interested in the Why/Who/What of your Big Idea. It’s time to start targeting.
Industry experts will confirm resoundingly that you’ve got to get clear on who Your People are before you can effectively share your message/product/business/brand with them. You would never prepare to deliver a speech without knowing where and to whom you would be presenting – it would be preposterous, irresponsible, and quite potentially embarrassing. So, we walk our clients through a workbook specifically designed to ask the right questions so we reach the right audience. This is surprisingly easy when you attack it from two angles:
definitively knowing your Why/Who/What and a general concept of your pitch and
identifying the Real People in Real Life who are interested in what you do.
Move beyond the hypothetical sketch of a marketing persona. Think about actual real, live people who you want to reach with your Big Idea. This makes the transition from marketing theory to marketing action a cinch, at a time when you’re really investing in making the whole thing work. So, let’s talk about these people, shall we?
Next week, we’ll be be exploring perception, but this week we’ll dance around the subject in these next two points. It’s impossible to put faces on your personas without at least considering what those people think about you (if they know you at all). However, as you’re compiling and refining your audience profiles, consider two things:
where are those people interacting and absorbing information and content and
what are their primary motivating factors for being interested in your Big Idea.
In order for the pre-work you’ve done in identifying your target audience to be of any benefit at all, you have to actually drill down what you’re going to do (and where you’re going to put your message!) that your audience will actually encounter, take note of, and take action. So, where is your audience hanging out and absorbing information (most specifically, in most cases, online). Also, what are the key problems/needs/voids/desires that your Big Idea fills in their world? What difference does your brand make to Your People?
Next comes the second phase of your target market research. You figured out what kinds of people your brand appeals to, focused on specific, In the Wild examples of your target audience and you identified where they absorb content and why they’re interested with your Big Idea. So, now it’s time to watch, listen, and learn. Marketing is a two-way, busy street. You’ve got to pump out great, resonating content, but you also must interact with and listen to your audience to keep tabs on two critical nuggets of info:
what companies and products are successful penetrating you audience’s feeds and friends’ lists and
are there key themes for the type of content that draws your audience in?
This is certainly not a hard and fast rule, but here’s an Almost Always Truth: if things are working out resoundingly well for someone, it is worth evaluating what they’re actually doing and the effect that it’s having. We’ll cover positioning within landscape of your competition at the tail end of the month, but in this context, the primary takeaway is to learn from your “competitors” in the way they draw your audience in and convert them to their message and their brand. Watch, listen, and learn.
There’s plenty more to zoom in on at a later date for each of these points, so stay tuned for later for some more hands-on tools for actually figuring out the answers to these open-ended questions. Next week, we’re covering perception (as your brand’s reality) and how to set and reach future state perception goals – increasing awareness, shifting reputation, or clarifying brand recognition. Don’t miss it. Here. Monday. Probably before you wake up. Because we planned it that way.