“Know Your Audience” Doesn’t Mean Anything.
There’s something that’s been bothering me a lot lately as I’ve been thinking about the state of digital marketing more broadly, and it’s the number of times I encounter a sentiment that goes something like “it’s important to know the audience!”
I think the reason this bothers me so much is that if you press someone on what they mean when they say this, they’ll often have a very complex set of perspectives to share with you. They might say something like, “well, is this document produced for an educated reader?” “Is this for a general audience?”
If you press a little more, you might ask, “well, how do I know who my audience is,” and I think it’s the answer to that question that I see far too many marketers get wrong.
Knowing who your audience is, isn’t that difficult. Just, for example, let’s pretend you were running a corner store. How would you do it?
The first thing you might do is decide to start keeping track of the data that goes along with every purchase a customer makes. You might be able to set something up like this with your POS provider to access some basics like demographics, or you may even have access to something like an email address or phone number.
With those data points, you have something more potent than any amount of external research “into the market” can provide you. You don’t have an abstract “audience” you have a customer file.
When you grow a little and decide to begin advertising, you might invest in a marketing campaign with a local publication. In so doing, you’re likely driving traffic from someone else’s website to your own. In so doing, you have an opportunity to generate another type of data point, a prospect list.
These lists can get a lot more complicated than my simple example allows for, but with these two basics, you now have access to a wealth of information you can use to grow your business. If you want to email your customers, you can experiment with it. The way they respond tells you what you need to do next. When you’re interested in making a change to your website, again, you’ve got a defined audience you’re curious about measuring.
There’s a lot of technology required to bring an existing business back to the place where it can look at its customers like they’re individuals. It’s a really hard problem to solve retroactively, but when you’re first starting out, it’s actually really simple to get right. Getting it right here, helps get it right later on, and that’s where the magic really happens.