More often, than not, marketing is focused on the product and explaining what it does rather than how it solves your prospects problems. While both are important, I would argue that understanding your target market and audience is even more critical, especially for marketing and sales.
I talked about delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time but I wanted to explore the idea of the “right audience” in more detail as I think that is poorly defined by many companies or just too broadly defined to be effective.
First off, let’s distinguish between target market and audience. Your target market is a group of customers that you plan to sell your product to, which may be defined as a vertical, geography, demographic or some combination of factors. A target audience is a specific group of people within the target market that have similar needs.
Many companies do a good job of identifying their target market by looking at where they have had success or which market has the pain points they can provide the most value. In some cases, this target market tends to be too broad and/or they treat multiple markets the same and don’t differentiate their offering or marketing for each segment.
However, I don’t think as many marketing organizations spend time drilling down to identify the target audience within this market and really understand them. You really need a clear and detailed picture of your audience so you can explain how you solve their problems, know where to reach them and how they want to hear about your product.
You need to talk in their language about the problems they face and how you can address their needs You can’t just list features or technical details that they need to decipher. And it’s not the same message to every audience in that target market.
For most companies, especially if you have a long sales cycle, the audience is comprised of different people and there may be multiple people in each role. You need to know who is the decision maker, who will influence the decision, and most importantly who holds the budget. There may also be different goals or objectives for the same project so you need to find a way to address all of them or at least know the top one(s) you need to address.
Understanding your target audience is not a trivial task but I would recommend you talk to your sales force to find out who they talk to in their accounts and what types of needs they have and questions they ask. Or, better yet shadow them throughout a sales opportunity. You can also look at the deals that have closed to see who played what role in the sales cycle.
The goal is to create a persona of each person that plays a key role in your target audience, with as much detail as possible, so you can look at every sales tool, event or marketing campaign through the eyes of the person you want to reach. It makes a huge difference when you can see whom the person you are marketing and selling to rather than just think of them as a list of companies.
This may all seem obvious to you but I am still surprised by the number of companies that don’t have this level of understanding or worse still marketing people who don’t think it’s one of their key jobs to understand their target audience in detail. A deep understanding of your target audience is absolutely critical and needs to be done before you implement your marketing plan if you hope to be successful.