A successful marketer knows how to read people.
I think about this every day, as I'm creating strategies, programs and content for my clients - I can always hear Kenny Loggins singing in my head. "I've made a living out of reading people's faces..."
We used to have to put together elaborate buyer personas and market to people who fit into those molds. However, with the rise of social media, and the increasing number of people from all demographics using various social media platforms, we can now create content and programming based on real people.
Prior to social media, marketing tactics were more widespread. We could put together a great promotion and send it out to a wide variety of stores, or place an ad in a newspaper where hundreds of people would see it, or even put up a billboard. That was how we used to reach people, broadcasting en masse, in hopes that we would reach both our current customers and potential new clients.
But in the modern landscape, that method is less effective. Today, we need to personalize content to each person, and market to that one person. Consumers today are not just smarter to the ways of marketing, but they're suffering from marketing fatigue. Even if a great ad comes across them, they might tune it out without even meaning to - there are simply too many messages being thrown out there on too many mediums.
So, how does a brand break through that? If people are tuning out ads without even knowing they're doing it, how can we ensure our messaging won't get tuned out also?
It's a lot easier than many marketing folks realize, and while it takes more work to market with personalization, it will help to ensure your messages are landing where they need to be.
1. Know Who You Are Talking To
This goes a bit deeper than simply saying "know your target audience." You need to get more specific in your head with who IN your target audience you are speaking to.
For example, my target audience for a brand I work with might be men and women, ages 18-40 who live in Southern California. Sounds pretty specific, right? Yet it's not specific enough. I need to delve deeper and start listening to what segmented groups of that audience are saying about my brand, what their buying habits are, and how I can reach them before they even realize my brand can enhance their life.
2. Relate Your Messaging to "Me"
We're all consumers at some point in our day, of a variety of different products. What makes you choose one brand over another? For me, I'll choose a brand that makes the most sense for my life.
As a marketer, I need to reach you and show you how my brand can seamlessly fit into your life, and how much easier or better your life will then be due to using, eating or drinking my brand.
What questions are being asked by the people you're trying to reach and how can your product or service answer those questions? Those answers need to be provided in your content and messaging.
3. Where Can I Find My Audience, and in What Format?
Not only does the content I create need to be relevant, but it also needs to land in the right spot for "each" person.
I'm pretty vocal about my love for Twitter - some people don't use Twitter and prefer to use Facebook. If the person I'm trying to reach prefers to receive their messaging on one platform, my personal preferences matter none - theirs do. How "you" want to receive content needs to be a marketer's main focus.
Emails have employed this idea since inception - how many times have you signed up for an email subscription and been asked if you prefer messages in HTML or plain text? That is an example of personalization. Today, people consume content in more ways than simply plain text - does your target audience prefer infographics? Blogs? Do they attend Twitter chats for the information they seek?
4. Don't Be Creepy
Personalization, when done right, is smooth.
You don't want to personalize too far down - to the point that people feel like their privacy is being invaded. You can personalize content and strategies without it seeming like you've been listening in on people's private conversations. Social listening doesn't mean stalking.
Undoubtedly, personalized content marketing takes much longer than any marketing of the past. However, what happens to the very best content ever produced in the history of man when it's not seen? Did it really exist? If you're taking the time and spending the money to put out marketing messaging, it only follows that you want those efforts to pay off.
There's more data to be found and more ways to have real conversations with your target consumer than ever. Understand who those people are so you can develop relevant content for them that's then delivered at the right time, in the right format and where they are best able to benefit from it.
Main image via Steven Depolo/Flickr