Most Important, But Most Overlooked – Understanding Your Audience Before Marketing to Them

Note to reader: This is a blog post I wrote for a full-service marketing agency who deals with small business owners and SMEs.

Oh yes, I know. You obviously know your audience, and me preaching this is just a big stab to your marketer ego.


Don’t get me wrong, as a seasoned marketer and educator myself, I feel like all we read nowadays on the internet, are regurgitated fluff pieces on adopting the newest tech gimmicks, listicles on trending social media clickbait tactics, or “advice” that I already knew about, a decade ago.

But, hear me out. The only reason I stress on understanding your audience is that we take this one, vital building block of our marketing strategy, for granted. After donkey’s years in the field, the tendency is to get slightly complacent and think we know everything there is to know, about audience segments and how to market to them (guilty!).

Here’s why you can’t afford to make that mistake.

Measuring the Marketplace – What’s the Big Deal?

Forgive me for resorting to this cliché, but, “change is the only constant”, as they say.

And it’s the same deal with marketplaces. Say your SME’s target audience is construction workers between the ages of 20 and 40. Or, say, your company’s communication is directed at impressionable middle schoolers.

That’s great. These are very cookie-cutter, specific audiences that you more or less “get to know” over the years, and market better, to.

That’s the thing though – your marketing strategy can’t be “cookie-cutter”, simply because, even within these very specific demographics, people are changing. People always change, and (this is the one thing new-age marketers have got right, aside from over-selling technology), innovation in the last few years has changed consumption and spending patterns (even thinking patterns), drastically.

So obviously, if you have a great product, and a great marketing strategy, but aren’t communicating right, to the right people? That’s a waste of a good campaign.

Similarly, if you think you know your TG that you’re marketing to (I mean come on, you’ve been doing the same thing for pretty much 3 years now!), and pump in the money for ad sales, but realize you’re not hitting that ripe ROI? It’s probably because you skimped just a tad, on market research.

Which brings me to my next point.

Why Market Research Should Be Your Morning Coffee

In all seriousness, I mean it.

Is it sexy? No, absolutely not. Is it fun? I’d rather go back and sit in on one of my old Economics lectures.

But, is it necessary? You bet your HubSpot subscription it is and will go on to impact (in a good way or bad, depending on how much time and resources you devote to it) your entire campaign outlines and marketing strategy.

Don’t believe me? Let me surprise you with a few game-changing stats to show you how behavior patterns are changing, below:

  • Diminishing ‘Brand Halo Effect’: Consumers are putting way more emphasis than before, on brand authenticity. They want genuine products, and genuine customer support, and aren’t falling for traditional brands’ false promises. This is why, so many consumers now actively review products and trust reviews, in return. 71% of consumers who’ve had a good social media experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.
  • Instagram is Content King: Instagram has overtaken Facebook by 58 times and Twitter by 120 times, with a per-follow engagement rate of 4.21%, reported by top brands.
  • Low Attention Span, But Higher Engagement for Long-form Content: This one’s contradictory, but makes sense. Consumers now have an attention span of barely 8 seconds, but posts longer than 1,500 words will likely have 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes. This ties into the first point of a brand promoting “genuine” and informative content over a motivational quote image that’s been re-shared a hundred times.
  • ‘Millennial’ as a Demographic, is a Fallacy: Yes, I said it; and I realize it’s a pretty unpopular opinion. But, think about it. There are about 2 billion people born between the years of 1981 and 2000. What’s the big differentiating factor from other demographics? That they’re more “tech-savvy?” Give me a break. Everyone and their grandma are addicted to social media and online shopping, now. In fact, the Baby Boomers are fast catching up with “Millennials” – 68% of them now own a smartphone, up from 25% in 2011.
  • Old is Gold – Direct mail: With so many technological innovations putting shiny blinders on marketers and business owners, it’s easy to forget about traditional marketing tools. For example, sending direct mail, with a short code posted on it, remains one of the most successful sign-up campaigns.

There’s beauty in the irony – while most companies are doing away with direct mail completely, you can stand out by reincorporating it as part of your campaign, with a “personal touch”. In addition, it pairs well with digital marketing by marrying physical objects like scannable codes and Twitter hashtags, with the company website and backend.

The Key Takeaway

So, now that we’re on the same page, let me reiterate: Understanding your consumers (and a big part of that is market research), is the first, and most important step to creating a smashing marketing campaign.

Because once you do, you can craft a strategy that really empathizes with them. Connects your brand to them, emotionally, without sounding too fake. You can focus on reconnecting with users and moving from clicks to conversions.

How? With the right go-to marketing strategy, and kickass marketing tactics that’ll help you achieve the goals you set for your company (is there a difference between marketing strategy and tactics? Well, I’m glad you asked).

At XYZ, we help you understand the difference, and work with you closely to align and deliver all your small business marketing strategy needs (and yes, we do all the boring market research for you, so you can focus on running your business!). Get in touch, today.

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