What’s the only thing that matters when you’re in business? The answer’s revenue. Certainly companies take great pride in building a better, faster, cheaper solution but to stay in business, companies have to make more money than they spend.
What’s the only thing that matters when you’re in Marketing? The answer is your audience. Generating revenue is how marketing efforts should be measured but it’s the audience that will determine success or failure.
What is an audience, or target market? Why are they the only thing that matters and how can any marketer make sure that they put their audiences’ needs even before the need to generate revenue?
What is a target market?
Businesses sometimes define their audience, or target markets as “everyone” because they believe that everyone could use or benefit from their product. Frankly, that’s rubbish and having an enormous target market hurts marketing efforts.
Target markets are the specific people or businesses that have the highest propensity to need and buy a product or solution.
Even when companies have a huge potential audience, it makes sense to break it into groups of prospective buyers that can be differentiated by their specific characteristics and needs. These are known as buyer personas and they help businesses start to understand the reasons people consider buying from them.
Why is the audience the only thing that matters?
Although companies might get lucky a few times and make some sales, without knowing what drives a target market to buy, marketers can’t use that knowledge to market intelligently.
When marketers know what matters to their audience they can provide relevant education that will help them make an informed decision. More often than not, they’ll buy from the business that shares freely and relevantly.
If they don’t, it’s probably because the solution wasn’t a fit and doesn’t mean they won’t be back to solve a different problem. After all, the business that educates becomes a trusted source.
The key to understanding target markets is to know this about them:
- Their Goals – help them succeed
- Their Characteristics – help them manage their environment
- Their Pains – help them solve challenges
- Their Hangouts – be easy to do business with and always accessible
The connection between each of these is that they are all about the target audience. They’re not about a product or a company. Audiences will let businesses know when they’re ready to hear about a solution but that won’t happen until the business is talking about what the prospective buyer really cares about.
Knowing the audience is an ongoing effort. Businesses have to consistently build a partnership with them because goals change, environments changes, and needs change. If a business is a trusted source because they focus on the success of the audience, the audience will share what’s changed and how the business can help.
How can marketers put the audience first?
Understanding what the customer needs at each stage of the customer lifecycle is critical to success. Not only does the customer need different information as the journey progresses, they need it in a variety of consumable formats and all of it needs to be relevant.
The customer lifecycle is the process that each decision maker goes through leading up to, during, and after a purchase. It consists of these stages:
Many marketers are very good in the pre-purchase and purchase stages but fail to make that same connection with their audience (now customer) in the post-purchase stages. They forget that the customer has the ability to make more purchases if they continue to be educated.
Keeping the customer lifecycle at the top of the list isn’t easy but luckily it goes hand in hand with understanding what really matters to the target audience. When marketers know what matters thy can make sure they have the right information at the right time and deliver it.
When marketing caters to every stage of the customer lifecycle, the friction is removed between buyer and seller because both parties get what they want. Customers get solutions that exactly meet their needs at a price they think is fair and businesses develop valuable and longer lasting relationships because customers trust them to put their needs first. This results in sales.
Sales are the ultimate measure by which marketers should hold themselves accountable. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in designing stunning marketing materials, developing brilliant content, and making offers that benefit everyone but they must result in sales or its back to the drawing board.
To deliver and grow revenue, a business has to be able to predictably fill its sales pipeline with well qualified leads that sales teams can close. That means the transition from lead to opportunity must be seamless. And that means the potential customer must continue to feel that their best interests are the most important item on the agenda. Not a sales goal, or marketing ROI, or an award for the top seller. There’s nothing wrong with those things but they’re not relevant to the customer.
Understanding the target market is the only thing that should matter to marketers because that knowledge drives every decision, deployment and campaign. It enables marketers to avoid wasting time, money and resources marketing to an audience that isn’t going to buy from them and instead build a meaningful relationship with one that is.