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Really Understanding Your Audience

September 5, 2011

Without a supreme understanding of your target audience, you are running a marketing campaign completely blind. You might think you know your audience, perhaps their general age or gender, but if you can't truly break it down, segment your audience down to the smallest increments, and then build a relationship with those increments; your marketing plan is lost.


We spend a lot of time on this marketing blog talking about statistics and the quantitative data; things that can be categorized, analyzed, and used in marketing proposals to show potential clients. However, for all of the charts and stats that can be shown, the true meat of any demographic analysis is fan relationships and brand reactions. Tactics such as sentiment analysis take a different look at how an audience reacts to certain brand messages, however they are limited by semantics and lose touch with the emotion involved in brand messaging. That's where the true understanding comes into play.


Age, Location, Income, Education


When considering your demographic, there are many segments that can be quantitatively broken down. Running some simple marketing research studies will show you where your brand's target audience lives, how much they make, how old they are, what kind of education they have, whether they search for your product or services at home or at work, whether they associate with your product during the week or on the weekends. But how do you know what your target audience wants and what to offer them that will motivate purchases?


Audience Motivations and Needs


Understanding what your target audience wants can be your greatest resource, and the toughest aspect to determine. Your audience's motivations and needs will directly affect whether they purchase your product or not. It's your marketing team's responsibility to determine what motivates them to purchase. Motivation to buy is directly related to a specific problem that an audience has. Your marketing team's responsibility is to determine what that problem is (aka: the motivation to buy), and how your brand can directly influence a solution to that problem.


Discovering what your audience's problem is can be as simple as asking them. In market research, your team will create polls and questioners. This is a great tactic, however it could be considered skewed by the fact that respondents of the marketing poll might not be responding as genuinely as they should. Perhaps they are unknowingly swayed by the way the question is asked. Perhaps the research team caught that respondent on an off day. So how do you find genuine answers to your audience motivations? Use social media.


Understanding Your Audience with Social Media


There truly is no greater resource for understanding your target audience than social media. It allows researchers to listen to audience conversations that are genuine and not influenced by brand bias. Using blogs, Twitter and Facebook, market researchers are able to monitor their specific demographic in terms of age, location, and gender to determine what they’re specific problems are.


Brands can also interact directly with their Fans in a different setting, one that tends to leave more room for open discussion. Statistics show that individuals are more willing to be open, frank and uninhibited when using social media. Brands can utilize this directly by both asking questions and listening; obtaining unbiased, genuine answers.


If you currently have a Facebook Page, for example, just ask your Fans what they want. Asking questions is the best way to show you genuinely want to know how to help your Fans, it builds brand trust, and it gets your marketing team the data they need to build an effective marketing campaign.