It’s on to part two of my follow up to the post Trick question: Are you a marketing planner or a marketing doer?, which touched on the basic requirements of a strategic marketing plan:
- Establishing objectives and goals
- Defining audiences
- Creating strategies and tactics
- Setting priorities
- Establishing how success will be measured
Up for a deeper dive is ‘defining audiences’, which in essence means ‘understanding who you are trying to influence’ through your marketing efforts. This is a very important step that often gets short-changed because of assumptions or a lack of available information.
First, let’s be clear that your audience cannot be everyone. While your products or services are surely incredible and there is the possibility they can be of widespread use, don’t kid yourself into thinking everyone out there has a high probability of purchasing them. That aside, it is impractical to consider marketing in such a broad way anyway. The most effective marketing is targeted marketing, using techniques and channels that allow you to reach highly specific audiences. And the more you can refine, define, categorize and prioritize your targets, the better.
Understanding your audiences can be accomplished in many ways. Surveys, independent research, focus groups, and publications are all tools that can be employed based on the situation. It’s important to pay attention to the data these tools uncover. Often that information is unexpected, and may be challenged due to preconceived notions or resistance to moving into unchartered territory. A professional partner can help with this, providing an outside objective voice as you define your audiences.
Now on to the magic…once target audiences are understood, it’s time to get their attention! Capturing the compelling messaging points that will appeal to your targets is where the rubber meets the road. This will form the basis and direction for creative concepts and tactical executions that arise from your marketing plan. It will be important to create distinctly different messages for your various audiences. Resist the urge to fall back on past assumptions about targets – be sure to let the legwork you’ve done inform you instead. Embrace the following principles as you think through messaging, and get others within your organization on board:
- You are not talking to yourselves – your audience(s) may likely be vastly different, so take a walk in their shoes
- A single compelling point is more effective than five
- You must provide information or a message of real value to the recipient if you expect a response
As you assess your various audiences for outreach and consider the messaging most appropriate to each, be sure you don’t overlook the ‘non-customer’ groups you need to speak to. These can include targets such as:
- Employees – internal communications are often overlooked and are highly important
- Media – news outlets and industry publications should know about your organization
- Influencers – pay attention to those individuals in the public eye who can help (or hurt) your brand via their followers
Granted, these or other such audiences may be lower on the totem pole of your prospects (that’s why prioritizing is important), but they should be captured nonetheless so you can address them as part of your overall plan.
I hope this post has been helpful in thinking about audience definition and messaging as part of a marketing plan effort. If so, look for additional posts on the key components of an effective plan. The next topic is on creating strategies and tactics.
Developing a marketing strategy is one of the many capabilities Reuben Rink provides as a full-service agency. Contact us today to explore how we can help your business develop a thorough marketing plan!