The first crucial question that must be answered before starting any new marketing campaign is this – who is my audience?

As much as you may like to, you simply can’t appeal to everyone. In fact, you’ll only dilute the power and impact of your message if you try a ‘one size fits all’ approach, whereas targeting a specific audience is the most effective way to see tangible results. It’s basically the first rule of business – know your customer.

Step 1 – Do your homework: It’s time-consuming but well worth it

A large part of the work on any marketing campaign is at the very start, before creative elements are even considered. Research is absolutely essential, as only with this data can you tailor your campaign to appeal to your ideal customer. You can’t magic up this information out of nowhere, so use the tools that are already at your disposal. Look at your existing customers and search for common attributes such as:

  • Interests
  • Demographics – age groups, gender, family make-up, job, location
  • Income
  • Previous purchases and spending levels
Speak to your sales and customer service teams (who speak to your customers every day) and perhaps collect feedback from existing customers themselves. Any scrap of information you can gather from your existing customer base could help you to build a clearer picture of your target customer.

Your website and social media channels are also a key source of information. Make use of analytics tools to see where people are coming from to find you, the pages they look at and the posts they engage with most. See who their friends are and what they like doing in their free time. This is where social media can be a goldmine for personal information that you simply wouldn’t find anywhere else.

Step 2: Create a customer persona: You’re marketing to real people, after all

A list of statistics, geographical data and interests written on a page does not make a person. If you want to really engage with your audience, you need to bring your research to life and create a fully rounded persona for your target customer. This involves fleshing out the spaces between the facts to create a picture of a real-life person, in a process that digital specialists call character development, just like you’d develop a character if you were writing a novel.

Crucially, it’s about psychology. You need to understand what motivates your target customer to purchase. What are their problems and pain points? What makes them loyal to a brand? What kinds of activity and marketing do they already engage with? What groups do they join, where do they shop and what events do they like to attend? If you can fill in all of these gaps, you are very close to creating a fully realised customer persona.

Step 3: Using what you know to tailor your marketing and communications

Now that you have quite a clear image of your ideal target customer, you can create a strategy for your marketing and comms to help you best engage with and appeal to them. Here are a few ideas for using your newfound knowledge to tailor and fine-tune your campaigns:

  • Where they are, you should be. You now know the channels and platforms your target customer frequents online, so you can make sure that you have a strong presence in these areas too. For example, if you have a teen/student market, you can develop campaigns for the platforms and formats they use most, from Vine to Snapchat. If your audience consists of professionals, you can develop email marketing campaigns or use business social networks to reach them.
  • Tailoring your content. Again, your knowledge of the person’s interests, groups and friendships can help you pitch the tone and content of your marketing efforts perfectly. You need to post things that they will be interested in, that they’ll share with friends and colleagues and engage with, adding their own opinions and joining in the discussion. What do they find funny? What do they most want to talk about? What issues most affect them? These are questions you should consider carefully when creating any marketing content.
  • Solving their problems. This should be your number one goal when developing marketing and communications strategies. For your brand to be relevant to your target customer, it needs to solve their problems, answer their questions and make their lives easier. Can you do this? If you can, you’ll have won yourself a loyal customer, one that is perfectly aligned with your brand’s offering and even its ethos as a business.

By Lauren Henley, Digital Content & Outreach Manager at every1