Updated: Jul 16, 2019
The first rule of marketing is: Know your audience. The second rule of marketing is: Know your audience.
I cannot over-emphasize how important it is to know your audience. Before you develop any content. Before you create a tagline. Before you define your value proposition. Basically, before you ever send an email, post to social media, or open your mouth. You must answer these two questions: Who are you talking to and what do they care about?
Let’s start by casting a wide net. Identifying your target market seems easy. You have a widget that does X. Which types of companies and individuals need a widget that does X?
Stop right there for a minute. If your answer is “everyone could use my widget,” you need to go back to shore and try casting that net again. “Everyone” is not a target market. Nor can “everyone” benefit from your widget. And, if you invest your precious marketing time and resources targeting “everyone,” you are going to waste a lot of time and money and come up with far fewer leads than your leadership expects.
Even if you have a cross-industry, cross-functional, multi-faceted widget, pick one or two. Start small. Learn what one industry’s key pains are, understand the challenges of small, midsize, and enterprise organizations within that industry. Learn to speak their language.
Confirm that there are a significant number of companies of your target size and industry within geographical reach of your sales force. Determine what percentage of those companies within your defined market will have a propensity to purchase your widget in the next 3‒6‒9 months.
This is your target market. All of your marketing messaging and collateral for this campaign should cater to this market.
Great. Now that you’ve defined your target market, you need to think about who you are speaking to. Companies do not lose sleep at night worrying about revenue projections, delivery deadlines, and data security. Companies are not decision makers. People are decision makers with real business pains they are struggling to solve. If your widget can help, let them know!
Start by identifying 3–5 individuals within an organization who need your widget. Learn the unique pains of the sales department vs. the finance department vs. the executive team. Are they similar? Different? Can your widget help all of them? Some of them? How?
If your widget is perfect for the executive team, congratulations! You’ve identified decision makers with budget authority. It should be no problem to pitch and close this sale. Except that executives are difficult to reach. Even if you can find their contact information and make your way through their gatekeepers to find time on their calendars. And if you make it that far, your marketing messaging better be on point. More likely, you will identify an influencer within their organization who can help you tailor your pitch to the executive’s specific business pains, and sponsor a meeting for you to make your pitch. But how do you identify the influencers?
Often, influencers are the daily users of your widget—the sales, finance, or customer service teams that will benefit from your solution but do not have organizationwide decision-making authority. Or budget. You will first need to convince this potential customer that you can solve their business pains. Then their colleagues’ business pains. Then the pains of the entire organization with material business or revenue impact. Then they might introduce you to their decision maker. This means you need to have marketing messaging tailored to each of the key influencers in the organization.
This is your target audience. All of your marketing messaging and collateral for this campaign should cater to this audience.
I know what you’re thinking … “I can barely get my branding team to share our latest logo. How am I going to develop collateral for every audience? And before that, how can I even start to identify my target market and audience? There are only so many hours in the day. And, I’m already posting to social media, so I’ve already broken the first rule of marketing …”
Fortunately for you there are smart new tools available to help. One of my favorite AI-driven tools for marketing and sales targeting is Fiind, which promises to help you “reach the right customer, with the right message, at the right time.”
Fiind’s AI for B2B sales and marketing helps you tap into customer insight at a click of a button. Supported by B2B predictive analytics and continuous machine learning algorithms, Fiind identifies unique customer signals, deep insights, and context to drive results.
Targeted data solutions like Fiind take all of the research and guesswork out of your market and audience segmentation efforts so you can spend your finite marketing time and resources on the creative work of fine-tuning your messaging to resonate with your target audience. In fact, Fiind even helps you:
Identify prospects who are looking for your products and services—and more importantly, understand WHY they are looking, so you can tailor your messaging even further.
Know your immediate customer wins by evaluating them based on propensity and intent—which means you can finally connect the dots between your marketing efforts and actual sales revenue to prove return on marketing investment.
Decide which customers to act on now and which to nurture. Because “everyone” isn’t ready to buy today. But maybe someday.
Spend time on the right leads.
In fact, to put the data opportunity in perspective, when you’re defining your target market, having the right industry-related data signals helps you identify unique and industry-specific pain points to capitalize on realized or unrealized business gaps. For example, if you are targeting the retail industry, data signals can help you identify which customers have or need omni-channel capabilities such as placing orders online and picking them up in-store. Or, if you’re targeting manufacturing, data signals can help you identify customers with IoT opportunities to support new production facilities, plant capacity, product launches, or supply chain and logistics.
And, when defining your target audience, using key people and social signals can help you identify opportunities sometimes hidden between departments or matrixed organizations. People signals can alert you of key changes in leadership, growing or reducing specific roles, skills, or departments. Social signals help you understand what, who, and why customers behave the way they do, based on news feeds, blog posts, and keyword algorithms.
Basically, data-driven AI tools take the guess work out of your marketing strategy, so you can go straight to the good work of highly targeted selling.
There. Now that you know who you are targeting, how to reach them—when and why … it’s time to create smart, engaging content to resonate with your target audience. We can help. If you can just get that logo …
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