How well do you understand your Audience?

Following on from the the last few episodes of conjecture I want to pick up a little on audience, we looked at targeting in episode 2, but what about understanding your audience for me it simply not discussed enough.


Working in media over the years especially as a publisher it was critical that you understood your audience, I don’t believe you can properly engage let alone sell to an audience without first understanding them.


I think this becomes more important the bigger the inbound marketing industry becomes, not just for brands and business, for agencies also. You would expect business and brand to understand their audience, however it’s not always true, marketers move around, rarely do individuals stay in a job very long, and why should they, loyalty is not always rewarded and for most money is the driver for moving job. Now think about that, in an environment where staff move from industry to industry do you really understand your audience? You may employ and external agency, are they a specialist in your field, do the agency staff understand your audience?


The point I want to make is that you may understand a market at top level, but unless you are involved in the conversation, you cannot understand your audience.  


As businesses we outsource social media, or bring in staff to manage it on our behalves, we get caught up in the bits we don’t know, the paid social, the content, getting a return. Often dazzled by case studies and portfolios we put in front of you, do you look beyond this and check the relevance? Is may even be the cost that is a drive for you? Should it though? Should understanding your audience not be more important.


Are you asking “how will you understand our customers?” as part of the onboarding or are you focused on the output, it may tick your branding criteria but could it go further? Should you be checking that everyone involved with your campaigns is taking the time to understand and learn from the behaviour of your target audience.


Good news is, it’s very simple to understand these humans you are targeting, you just need to spend some time talking to them. This could be engaging online, you may even pick up the phone or meet them face to face.


Here are my top 3 ways of doing this.


  1. For large audiences and being short on time, how about a survey, this can be incentivised with a prize draw to make your audience take note.
  2. At trade events, rather than using it as a data collection exercise use it to collect anecdotal data, find out what the issues are for your market.  Don’t simply make assumptions,  
  3. My Favorite, call your existing customers, it helps you build a better relationship and they may be more open to giving you the feedback as they already are doing business with you.  


As a sales director and publisher, when working on a new publication in a market that was new to me, I would grab the circulation database and spend a couple of days putting calls in to people receiving our magazines, in the main the feedback was great, we were able to adjust content for the publication and brief the sales team about the real issues we were picking up. This then resulted in a more educated sell to the advertisers. It’s something we still do today when planning and preparing our events, pointless putting on a programme if it does not interest those you want to attend.   


In a world where marketing is increasingly more inbound, don’t forget to be outbound in your quest to understand your audience.


Understanding your audience will only increase your ability to create good content, brief third party’s better and target your campaigns more clearly. They say knowledge is power and in marketing that hold true, while data and statistics play a huge role don’t forget the human aspect, the anecdotal data you collect probably carried more weight, and it’s often far easier to use and feed back into your own content.