As I think about marketing and social media and delve into what core problems cause so much challenge in a marketers world, I come to a glaring issue that trumps so many other things. I see people in a rat race looking for the latest and greatest tips to get ahead, achieve success, and pass their competition. The problem is that there is a flaw in this endless race. The problem is that I think most people may be talking to the wrong audience. This post is going to look at the real value of finding your audience and how not doing that can void almost every other marketing action you are taking.
I remember a sales trainer once did a demonstration by asking for the best two salespeople out of thousands at the conference to come up for a sales competition. They chose their favorite products and they would compete to see who was the best salesperson based on the crowd judging with cheers. They chose their favorite product and would pretend to sell it to two pretend buyers, the whiteboard, and the monitor on stage. They used a variety of tactics and sales pitches and after each was done the trainer asked them to come forward and the crowd judged and chose the winner. The winner was beaming with pride for being the best among his peers. Then the sales trainer asked for the check. The top salesperson started to write a fake check and the trainer said, no he wanted a real check for the product. A moment of silence fell on the crowd as everyone listened to the sales trainer.
He then explained that the winner hadn’t actually made a sale. He was selling a water filter to a whiteboard and no matter how good he was, he hadn’t made any money because whiteboards don’t buy water filters. This was a brilliant teaching and has stuck with me for over 15 years. The same is happening in social media and marketing right now. The old model was talk to a very large audience who might have some of your potential customers in it. This was expensive and produced a small percentage of replies. Then came social media.
Now companies are failing because they are trying to use social media to broadcast messages to what they hope is a large audience with daydreams of going viral. A flood of content and advice centering around tactics and strategies for every platform is saturating every fearful business owner and marketer. They all want glorious following metrics and the smart ones want the brass ring of conversions and ROI. But most will go into the maze of marketing tactics and never come out for one reason. They are talking to the wrong people.
There are so many ways to segment audiences and many layers that can help you receive all you want with way less effort. It reminds me of the Robert De Niro scene from Taxi Driver which people quote even if they don’t know where it came from, “Are you talking to me, because I don’t see anyone else here” This is how most people’s social media audiences must feel most of the time. They are being talked to but the messages are not always relevant to them. The result is they will ignore you, scroll past you, or unfriend you.
The key is first to know yourself, your brand, your story (STOP! most people are telling themselves “check” I know those things… No you don’t and stop telling yourself that). What makes you different than anyone or everyone else. What stands out about you or your product or brand? Even if you know that, how does that line up with your current audience let alone your target audience. This will create resonance when your unique brand and story are in alignment with your audience and add value to them. Most people never get this clarity and then pile on marketing tactics and tools to no avail.
When you are in “tune” with yourself and your audience, you will create effortless loyalty and engagement. This requires two things: appreciation and authenticity. Appreciation is a result of you adding value to your audience. This grows into loyalty and engagement. Authenticity resonates through your communication when you are clearly defined to yourself and that signature is pressed into your content and branding. Once you have this, all you have to do to build and expand loyalty and engagement is a little game called show and tell. You show love and appreciation for your target audience with no need for sales, but actual engagement and relationship building with motives and selfish requests put away. Then you tell your story and let them engage and show their loyalty by giving back to you. Yes, it is that simple.
But you want sales! When you actually know yourself, your target audience, you add value to them and create a relationship, then share what you are doing and allow them to support you back you create an environment for sales. If you are in alignment with the right audience they will want what you are selling. If you are trying to sell tampons to guys during the Superbowl, I don’t care how good your tactics are, they aren’t buying. Starting with the right people reduces the tactics and strategy needed. Are your sales and conversions easy? If they aren’t maybe you are talking to the wrong people. Most people figure they need better tactics and more tools and strategies and they get caught in the endless quicksand of empty solutions. You can get really good at doing the right things to the wrong people.
If your conversion numbers are 2%, maybe you should figure out what is different between the 2 out of the 100 prospects and the other 98. Otherwise you need another 100 people. Why not look for another 2 that are just like the 2 who converted. This requires more analysis and thought but less inputs. Adding another 100 people can get expensive and time consuming. Think small, think efficient, focus on results you have already gotten, not just how you can scale your followers. When someone likes, comments, or buys from you, look at those people and find out why they responded. They are gold, they are the hidden variables in the formula of sales. Find more of them.
I will leave you with a few targeting do’s and don’ts.
Don’t target everyone. Don’t try and sell a water filter to the whiteboard. Sales is all about targeting and finding the right prospects and then when you do, finding more of them with the least effort. If you have to add 100 more people to find 2 consider yourself a likely failure at prospecting.
Don’t target yourself. Many people build their marketing, branding, and business based on what they think and like. Unless you are your target audience, stop doing what you think is good. Think with your target audience in mind and let their opinions and likes shape the decisions of your branding because you are selling to them not yourself.
Do self-analysis. Take a look at how your brand presents itself now and who would respond most to it. Without your unconditional love, how would you describe it with only what you can see on your website, social profile, bios, or content. What does each one by itself say to people who know nothing about you. Is it consistent from platform to platform? Should it be based on the platform and your audience? Then take a look at your target audience and your brand and ask yourself how close they line up. Go Venn Diesel on it. A little math pop culture humor for you.
Do market research. Find similar products, brands, or services and look at what their brand presents and then look at their audience and compare the level of resonance. What content are people engaging with and what are they not engaging with. Look-alike audiences are like a living model of your own business that you can get extended real time analytics from. There is huge value in looking beyond your own data. Use this to segment your look-alike audience and then your own. The insight will open your eyes and cut off major time of trial and error from your growth.
Do listen. Once you actually find your audience, their feedback will be invaluable and there will be plenty of it. Don’t listen to the people not responding to you. This is a mistake when people look at their analytics they don’t realize that not all of that data is relevant, though all can be useful. Shrink your audience down to the ones that are engaging and buying. That is your real audience that has proven who they are. Find patterns and ask for feedback and engage and you will find mountains of gold.
I hope you enjoy this post. It is not meant to give you 3 tactics to grow your following. It is not a do this and get that in 10 minutes a day post. It is a post to make you think, and question, and see what may be the most important thing you have not been focusing on. If you enjoyed it please show the love and comment and share what you think and your experiences. I made 4 videos that dig into each main section a little deeper if you enjoy the topic and want to dig deeper, check them out. I will post them throughout the week on our Youtube channel so subscribe or visit there. I will add the links to this post at the end of the week. Thank you all again, and especially thank you to my core audience who supports what I do and share, you mean so much to me.