Are You Treating Your Audience Like a Faceless Mob?

I can’t count the number of clients who’ve answered my question “Who is your audience?” with “Everyone! – Anyone who’s ever needed (fill in the product or service).”

That kind of confidence is great…but it doesn’t help from a marketing standpoint.

To sell effectively to your audience, you need to know them as individuals – what are their interests, their wants, their needs, their dreams, their struggles. Why they need your product. What about your service resonates for them. How their lives could be made easier by your offerings.

Everyone is not going to buy your product or service…but individuals might, if you communicate its value in terms that resonate for them.

“But I researched that when I developed my business plan,” you may be thinking. “Why do it again?” Well, just take a look at the ways in which a major corporation like, say, McDonald’s has reinvented itself: first a hamburger joint for teenagers…later a convenient dining place for busy families…more recently, a place to grab a (supposedly) healthy snack; now, a coffee bar of sorts.

The audience changed, and with them, the company.

Even if your target market was clear at the beginning, times change. Society changes. People’s level of awareness changes. Don’t assume that what was true when your business opened its doors is true now.

Sure, you can get a general sense of the trends by networking and keeping up on the news in your community and your industry. But unless you’re doing some significant research in those trade mags and local newspapers, or pumping your networking contacts for information, you’re going to need a more focused approach.

Yes, you can hire a marketing company to survey your audience for a hefty sum…and there are times when that can be critical to your company’s survival. But to gather general data to assess and tweak your company’s direction, you may be just as well served by using a DIY approach and a nifty free tool called SurveyMonkey.com (www.surveymonkey.com).

After you set up your SurveyMonkey account, you can create basic surveys and send them out to your client base by email or through the SurveyMonkey servers. You can generate a link and place it on your website, your Facebook page, or your blog, or email it to your list. All of this free of charge. Even if you elect to upgrade to the paid service while you’re running your survey (and there are distinct benefits, like being able to download the results), the charge is small, paid month to month with no long-term contract.

As marketing master Seth Godin wrote, “Selling to people who actually want to hear from you is more effective than interrupting strangers who don’t.” If you have the data to address the current needs and interests of your audience, they will be that much more receptive to your message…and your products or services.

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