Understanding your target audience is key to executing effective marketing strategies and increasing brand equity. But “understanding” isn’t a destination. It’s a journey. For Nic Shafer, vice president of marketing and strategy at Precision Extraction Solutions, the first step in that journey is meeting his customers where they socialize.
“Before implementing any kind of marketing strategy, it’s imperative that you first research your audience thoroughly in order to intimately know your target customers,” Shafer told mg. “Marketing budgets oftentimes don’t allow businesses to pursue every possible channel at once, so you need to understand which platform your target audience spends most of their time on, and what’s important to them. The more you know about your customers, the easier it is to identify the marketing channel that will most likely bring the strongest [return on investment].”
To learn where your audience spends their time, your best bet is a two-pronged approach using quantitative research from existing sources and conducting your own qualitative research by going directly to your current customers. For the latter, the U.S. Small Business Administration recommends sending out surveys, posting or handing out questionnaires, and/or enlisting focus groups.
“It helps to identify sub-channels where you’re able to cut through the marketing noise, such as niche social media groups and YouTube channels,” Shafer advised. “You must be selective in your strategies and find the mediums where you’re able to reach those audiences who would have a particular interest in what you’re marketing.
“Once you become familiar with your customers, you can diversify your strategy with the confidence that the payoff will be worth the investment.”
Consumer demographics—and maybe more importantly, psychographics—can be used to help you pinpoint the best channels and marketing tactics for your brand, but acquiring that information requires new research or drilling down into the historical data you’ve already collected about current customers. Anything you learn can then be used to make extrapolations about potential new customers.
Bear in mind, just like everything else, channels develop patterns that change over time. Channels that were popular and methodologies that worked a month ago may be passé now. The journey to understanding your target audience will require constant review and adjustment.