Identifying Your Audience

One of my favorite things about starting a new client relationship is helping organizations identify the who and the why of what they’re doing. Even the most marketing-savvy companies can come to a marketing firm or PR agency with starry eyes and the perception that their product is for everyone. However, even if we are promoting air, the reality is that some people need it more than others.

Who’s moving the needle?

In the PR and marketing world, we often talk about target audiences and personas. That’s basically marketing geek-speak for different categories of people who would be motivated to buy or interact with your product or service. The descriptions of these different audiences can get specific, including interests, pain points, challenges and motivators that help drive or deter action. For personas, these categories are summarized into characters, complete with names, ages and short biographies.

There are many ways to identify these characters, including one-on-one interviews, surveys, focus groups and industry research. You’ll also want to consider sales data to understand how, when and why people make purchasing decisions. The more research you consume, the clearer your audiences will become, and eventually personas will emerge.

Don’t be afraid to prioritize.

Unless you have an infinite budget, you won’t be able to reach everyone effectively. Prioritize your personas so that a marketing firm can identify the most effective and efficient way to spend your dollars. Another way to think about this is looking for the low-hanging fruit. If you effectively reach the “easy sells” who align with your organization’s goals, you’ll have more resources to market to the next most important audience. The more difficult it is to reach an audience, the more resources it will require. All too often an organization will spin its wheels trying to move the needle on an audience that just isn’t going to budge.

Measurement is key.

PR and marketing campaigns should be crafted with the goal of targeting each of your top personas, but how will you know if they’re successful? Benchmarking is a key step that many organizations miss, and in today’s digital world, even the most traditional PR campaigns can incorporate some form of measurement. Set the foundation for where you’re starting so you can measure how far you’ve come. These benchmarks should be revisited frequently by everyone on the team so you can determine whether the campaign is effective or if it’s time to pivot.

Research always takes time, and it can be difficult to justify when you’re eager to get started. But the long-term success of your marketing efforts will be tenfold if you take the time to understand the who and the why for what you’re doing. Otherwise, you’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall.