You are NOT your audience.
What The Customer Wants...
Target marketing is the art and science of selecting the right audience for your advertising. It is the process of making sure your message is delivered to someone who wants or needs to hear it. It doesn't always work that easily though.
Tell me if this sounds familiar. I had a meeting with a client a little while ago and he sat across from me telling me how he had spent 4 hours last night looking through creatives from other companies and how he put together 50 samples that he absolutely loved. He then proceeded to tell me how I needed to produce materials for him that were in line with these samples and that would make him a “happy client”.
At first glance, you might think wow what a great client, giving you all of these samples so you know exactly what they like! But you’d be wrong. There is a problem with this scenario and it is a problem we see all the time. The problem is, my client is not his target market. And although he may undeniably love the pieces he hand picked for me his customer does not.
I’ll tell you more about this client and the results of his campaign a little later in the article, but let me ask have you been in this situation before? You get the creative proofs back and you think, that’s not my style at all! What were these people thinking? Didn’t I give them clear direction of what I wanted??
But It's My Baby!
Admittedly, this was a very hard step for me to take personally. I have been nurturing my baby for the past 7 years and I want the best for my baby. I want my baby to be beautiful and loved by everyone. But that is the crux of the problem. It might be MY baby, but the people who are buying my baby are NOT me! The best thing that I learned I could do for my baby is to let the customer decide what my baby looks like.
Everything you do as someone who manages a brand for a customer should begin with the end client in mind. If you are advertising your product with flashy animations and big beautiful images but the end client cannot see them because their computers are too old or their internet is too slow... you just wasted your money.
What Does The Data Say?
Data is where we need to live. What does the data say is more impactful with your customer? How about where to place ads? And what about your content, your imagery, or even your brand colors?
We need to stop assuming that because we think something is pretty or effective to us it is going to be effective to our clients. Just because you watch CNN doesn’t mean your customers do. We need to place ads in the best location for the customer, not just where we will see them. We need to evaluate what creative gets the best engagement, not what we find funny or entertaining. Which colors do your customers connect with? How does your customer consume content? Let the data guide you to effectiveness.
How do I find out what my customer likes?
We think we know our customers and sometimes we do. But how do we specifically get into the heads of our customers so we can be the most effective? Or in other words, how do we best define our target marketing? Here are 5 tips to narrow down what will make your ads most effective.
A/B Test EVERYTHING!
If you have the ability to test multiple creatives, landing pages, or verbiage then do it. There is much less waste associated with trying different options to see what performs the best than there is in serving bad ads in the wrong places. Serve multiple creatives to the same audience and see which is the better performer. Once you have the answer on which is best, use that creative more and match the style and verbiage when creating new ads.
Dig Deep In Your Data
Take the data you already have and identify your best customers. What is the common thread between them? Maybe they are all from the same geographical area, or maybe they are made up of the same type of people. Use that information to target your ads to the right place and serve a message that resonates with that audience. The more data you have the more commonalities you will find and the more custom segmentations you will discover.
Use Segmentations For Target Marketing
Once you know your customers, there are likely patterns and not all of them will apply to every customer. Break your customers into segments and write content, ads, and experiences with that segmentation in mind. A very broad example would be the difference between the hispanic market and the African-American market. A message or image that would speak well to one audience will not speak as well to another. Take advantage of these segmentations and maximize your results by speaking directly to the audience you’re targeting in the way they each prefer.
Survey Your Best Customers
Once you identify who your best customers are, ask them to take a quick survey so you can learn more about them. Offer them an incentive for their time. Offer to add them to an influencer panel to keep an ongoing conversation about what you are doing well and what you can change to increase customer satisfaction. This panel will also give those customers an elite feeling and will make them even bigger champions for your brand.
It’s no surprise that Budweiser gets a lot of attention during the SuperBowl. And notice how they don’t show a bunch of people in a bar sharing Budweiser. They tell a story in their advertisement that tugs on the heartstrings of their customers. If the cute puppy and horse relationship thing works for you then aim for something like that. If you are a company that has a humorous relationship with your customers and they respond well to that, then implement some comedy in your ads. Again, do not do anything that YOU THINK is best. Do the things that your customers respond well to and enjoy.
If you take nothing away from this article other than this one thing...Advertise to your customers not to yourself!
Need a resource for defining your target audience? Try this. The Ultimate Marketing Plan: Target Your Audience! Get Out Your Message! Build Your Brand!
So What Happened With That Client??
And if you are wondering about that client I mentioned in the beginning of this article...he insisted that if we wanted to get paid we would do what he wanted. We did...and as you can guess the campaign was a complete failure. And guess who that client blamed for the whole thing? You guessed it. Us. Despite our efforts to dissuade him from doing it his way. The funny thing is, the next agency that came in refused to listen to him, required that he put his trust in their company and do what the data says. As a result, that company was successful in growing his business 30%, and the ads looked nothing like the customer had originally “liked”.
We all learn lessons, and sometimes they are hard lessons indeed! Have you learned any lessons like this? Share them in the comments below! We can help others learn from our mistakes.
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