As the marketing and online communication landscape whooshes by at the speed of light, one particular mantra seems to get louder and louder:
“Know Thy Audience.”
Listen up CEOs, CMOs and COOs: Audience Personas are not just a nice idea or a warm fuzzy. Locking eyes with your audience in every piece of communication is more essential than ever — especially when it comes to the complex sale that requires helping a prospect or customer make a complicated decision.
Yet, those of us here at Well Planned Web who facilitate the process of intense audience profiling are often met with resistance. We hear push-back like, “We already know our audience,” or “I’ll just send you the demographic report.”
Our favorite: “We know our customer. We just don’t know how to reach them.”
We’re proud to say that once clients see their customers through the new set of lenses, it creates a ripple effect across their organization. In fact, two clients have even made their Profiling documentation part of their new employee packets (yes…that’s the sound of us tooting our clients’ horns).
The fact is…when it comes to reaching your customer or prospects today, there is no such thing as knowing them “well enough.”
Audience Profiling should be an ongoing process — not a one-time exercise that gets tucked away after a series of meetings. We admit, our process at Well Planned Web is ridiculously thorough. We’ll also admit that it uncovers gold — we’re talking the super shiny nuggets — that make online marketing efforts take off!
There are hundreds of signs that you may need to connect with your audience on a level not seen by your team in years.
However, here are five “easy to spot” signs that we see often.
1. Your team hits decision traffic jams
When you don’t clearly define and commit to who exactly you’re talking to, copy and design reviews instantly become unfocused and subjective. Collaboration turns into “the loudest voice wins” when, in fact, the customer’s voice should be always be front and center.
If your team is forever relying on the CMO or CEO to “break the tie” on copy, content and design — you’re likely not connected to your audience, ideal customer or prospect in every way that counts. Break the cycle and you’ll not only find harmony in the workplace, you’ll find ROI with your online content.
2. Your mom understands your content
If your content is targeted, spot on and locks eyes with your prospects, it solves their problem and helps them make a decision. It causes them to ask more questions, seek more information and explore further.
If your mom nods and applauds your content, though, chances are it’s way too broad. Like marketing of old, it speaks to everyone, yet reaches no one.
Whether it’s a new report, blog post, case study or infographic, be sure your content addresses specific questions your prospect is asking.
And…unless your mom is the absolute spitting image of your target market, consider her head-scratching or disinterest in your content a compliment :). Sorry mom.
3. Your editorial calendar is blank
If your editorial planning process is painful, your team is likely having trouble “seeing what’s ahead” on the content horizon. Being connected intimately with your audience, on the other hand, results in easily identifiable “mission critical” content that begins to write itself. It then becomes a matter of prioritization versus, “I guess we should talk about what to write next month.”
4. You’re trying to “sell” rather than “solve”
This may be the surest sign that you’re completely out of touch with your audience. After all, when you meet someone in person who you can genuinely see benefiting from your product or service, you probably don’t shove literature in their face or yell phrases like “Still not convinced?! Let me tell you more.”
Today’s content has to help a prospect learn a new angle, create a new solution or solve a problem *themselves.* Let go of trying to be the hero. Fire your inner sales guy. Become part of the research process and journey that prospects take. The web makes research easy. Serve up real help and quality information — not “convincing copy that will hook them in” (oh…how the old phrase kills me now.) Knowing your audience intimately makes solution-oriented content the easy choice.
5. You freeze up when it’s time to share
So your content is targeted, your message is solution oriented and your mom doesn’t have a clue. But…hmmm… now what? As part of the audience profiling process, it’s critical to identify “real life” examples of each segment and where they gather and share information — whether it be through email, LinkedIn, Twitter, trade organizations, news journals, blogs…etc.
Most importantly, concentrate your sharing on a few channels that speak directly to your audience. Shed the broadcast mentality. Discourage marketing teams from striving for broad-reaching numbers when they could be directing concentrated efforts on a smaller segment that’s more likely to respond, listen and…ultimately… convert!