Back when I was a freshman in college, every student was required to take a speech course called Rhetoric. It was the kind of gen-ed class everyone dreaded – but I took away one little phrase that’s still in the back of my mind while writing marketing copy for brands: “know yourself, know your audience.”
It’s a simple piece of advice, but honestly, it’s easier said than done – especially when it comes to marketing. Your message and creative are what connects the dots between your business and your audience, and it all begins with a deeper understanding of who you’re talking to.
Do you know your audience? Like – really KNOW your audience? Where do they get their news? Do they watch cable TV? What social media platforms do they frequent? With so many elements involved in getting to know your audience, it’s hard to know where to start.
The first all-important step is to accept the fact that your marketing communications can’t be everything to everyone. We want our message to be “hot” to our target audience, which can consequently make us “cold” to other groups. Trust us, that’s better than being lukewarm to everyone. That’s when you fall in the pile of forgettable “meh” messaging that doesn’t cut through the clutter.
When you begin crafting your audience and your content for that audience, the first step is deciding to be brave and follow through with that audience. Don’t be afraid of tailoring your message to them. With today’s audience targeting capabilities, especially on social media, you can and should target your campaigns and create multiple creative sets based on your audiences to avoid the “shotgun” one-message-for-everyone approach.
Getting started with understanding your audience often means diving into audience segmentation. This can be accomplished in different ways, from focus groups to surveys to persona development. The process can be daunting and not to mention cost prohibitive.
Depending on your organization, if there hasn’t been any recent audience data collection, it might be time to do some research to update your audience segments with some solid data.
Another great place to start is by looking at your current customer base and begin sorting them into big-picture demographic buckets that can be used as the basis of audience personas.
Personas are fictional representations of real data and are used by marketers to represent those demographic “buckets” and inform your overall content strategy. When working alongside our clients, personas are also very helpful in reminding you exactly who you’re writing for with every piece of content. Personas provide a more detailed, personal lens to see your audience and reminds your marketing team as a whole that at the end of the day, human-centric content is key. You’re not writing for an audience segment – you’re writing to people.
Once you’ve completed the task of understanding your audience better, you can focus your attention on your messaging. Your message and creative connect your business to your audience – and it’s critical that they’re custom to that audience to ensure that it really hits the mark.
That’s why we’re big fans of A/B testing creative. That way, you can dial in on what’s working with a particular audience much quicker.
When it comes to the actual message, it’s important to reflect back on your audience work to let your audiences’ motivations drive how you talk to them. When you’re familiar with what drives them, you can fold in those attributes to bait your content hook more effectively. Areas that should be infused with the context of your audience are things like key messaging documents, social media strategy documents or even your brand standards guide in things like your brand position or pillars.
While you’re developing your creative, it’s important to strike the fine balance between saying what your audience needs to hear and wrapping it in your unique brand voice and style. To be honest, it just takes testing, tweaking and pivoting. Over time, you’ll gain intuition as to what messaging works best for a particular audience, which is when the real fun begins.
Knowing your audience is as important as knowing yourself as a brand. The brands who do this well are the ones who stand out in the field. And that’s what we’re all after, right?
Drop us a line if you’re interested in finding your audience and/or figuring how to connect with them.