Defining an audience is one of the most talked about, and least understood, activities of marketing. It is an essential part of marketing, no matter the medium, but it is rarely done correctly.
Usually, when we start talking about audience we go straight for demographics. We start thinking about customers age, sex, and something more personal like marital status. But, breaking our audience down into a series of statistics may not be all that productive. After all, we aren't trading baseball cards.
Do you really know your customers, or do you just know they are females age 25-35?
You see, the 'real' audience that we are after is a lot more human than these mere statistics can provide. Customers aren't numbers on a bulleted list, they are human beings. They might share a similar sex and age, but what does that really say about who they are?
It is important to understand your audience, but in the new age of marketing, we have to understand them in a way that will help us communicate with them. One way of thinking about it is to see them as your friends, rather then your customers.
Giving Them A Name
So, what are some of the things that define your friends? Well, you know their name, something about where they grew up, the industry they work in, the names of their children, and probably a rough idea of their daily routine.
But, when we look at the usual demographics that marketers consider we see a very different picture. We may see an age, a sex, a checkbox to suggest they have children, and probably a mark next to their marital status. But, what we don't see there is the person.
With our friends, we know if they grew up on a farm, or if it was in a big city. We also know the mundane details of their life, such as if they enjoy eating chicken. We know the person, not the statistic.
And that is really what it comes down to. It isn't that we need to know the intimate details of every customer that comes through the door. We just need to understand their human side, the side that matters when it comes to social media.
So, ask yourself, who are your customers? I mean really. Try starting with this:
- What is their name?
- What do they do?
- What defines them?
- What activities do they enjoy most?
This is a very different set of questions from what we normally ask, but they are important. Notice how they focus on the person, rather than the demographics.
You see, contrary to popular belief, social media isn't about the numbers. Long before it is a marketing platform, social media is a communications platform. It allows grandma to see her grandchildren and enables old friends to re-connect after years apart.
Brands are an oddity in this sea of connection, so we must learn to see and reach our customers on an emotional level. A level that treats them like human beings. Above it all, we must learn to help them solve their problems.
And that is where things get really powerful. Your customers are human, so you need to start to understand what makes them that way.
- What do they worry about?
- What keeps them up at night?
- What problems do you help them solve?
- What problems CAN you help them solve?
Your customer is a human being with worries, needs, successes, and failures. They are just like you. Worried about how they are going to pay the bills on time. Worried about how to drive sales on their products. When we start categorizing them like baseball cards we loose their humanity and start force-feeding them push marketing garbage rather than talking to them like they actually matter. Your audience has needs, help them get them solved. The sales will hontake care of themselves.
Another reason this method works is because we, as marketers, are human too. It is a lot easier for us to internalize this customer story rather than a few facts on a piece of paper.
Make the Connection
The simple fact is that great social media comes when you connect your expertise to the real problems that your customers share. You can easily establish yourself as an expert when you become the helpful resource that makes their worries go away.
This is exactly why at Todaymade we blog about marketing. We build websites, but our customers are worried about marketing. Everyday on our blog, we help them solve their marketing problems. By doing this, we earn trust, build a reputation, and become the person they think of when they need a new site.
The same could go for any business. A plant shop may sell flowers, trees, and shrubs, but what do their customers care about most? Gardening perhaps? Soil types? The best type of fertilizer to use in the fall? The expertise of the business can be used to solve problems and concerns shared by their customers. When they start focusing on being helpful, rather than being pushy, they start building trust and connecting to the audience they serve.
Start thinking of your audience as those that you can build trust with, rather than those that you can sell something too. This type of thinking is the new way of marketing, and it doesn't only work for social media. It is really part of the big picture that is totally redefining marketing all together.