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Define the Audience

When experts in content marketing are asked for advice, there is a common refrain. Define the audience. Before you begin crafting a message, know who you’re talking to and optimize based on that.

Video creators, blog writers, and digital marketers all intuitively know this. It’s the type of thing that gets repeated so often that the meaning is eventually muddied or lost. Why is this step forgotten so often that consultants need to emphasize and repeat it? How does a well-defined audience determine the type and style of content produced and the effectiveness of that content?

This tactic is nothing new. Perhaps that is why it’s so deeply ingrained.

“Demographics and audience definition have been important in content marketing and advertising since the beginning,” said Mary Cochran, co-founder of Launching Labs Marketing

Cochran said that businesses sometimes define their target markets too broadly. They assume that everyone needs their product. This false presumption can interfere with an effective strategy. It takes time, money, and bandwidth to research and define a market, but these investments pay off in the long run.

Modern digital tools allow for very specific targeting. However, if marketers hope to use these tools in a cost-effective manner, they should have a clear picture of the relevant demographic beforehand. It’s not just about the dollars and cents. A well-defined audience directly impacts a campaign’s creative messaging.

Cochran explained, “When creatives use ‘personas,’ it adds life to the content. The buyer can identify with the product and it gets their attention.”

She mentioned that web users are sometimes baffled when they encounter bad or irrelevant marketing. Cochran said, “Have you ever thought, ‘Who opens this?’ It might’ve been a miss on identifying the audience.”

Alison Werning, co-founder at Launching Labs, expanded on the concept of buyer personas.

“It is important to know who you want to market to before you jump in and create a logo, website or packaging,” she said.

Providing an example, Werning continued, “If you simply say, ‘Anyone who is thirsty will buy my beer,’ the messaging will likely fall flat. However, if you define your psychographics to, say, young men who are trout fisherman, run a half marathon every year and like to find new experiences, you will have a clear idea for your brand design.”

This specificity could shape a variety of efforts on the digital marketing front.

Werning said, “Brands like New Belgium and Blue Moon fit this mold and have packaging that goes along with this persona. Everything they do addresses and engages this audience. The visual is attractive, they sponsor appropriate events, and their digital accounts are edgy and fun, instead of elegant or staid.”

Marton Varo, CEO and executive producer at Brandefy, has also reaped the benefits of a well-defined audience. Varo creates TV commercials, promotional web videos, and keyword-optimized content for a variety of clients.

Varo said that entrepreneurs sometimes can’t see the forest for the trees. “When you’re an entrepreneur or the core driving force behind a company or product, when it’s ‘your baby’ in question, you may often lose perspective,” he explained.

According to Varo, businesses should acknowledge that they can’t please everyone all the time and try to exercise objective judgment.

He explained, “When you’re as close to something as an entrepreneur is to their ‘baby,’ it’s very easy to make assumptions based on emotions — thinking everyone will love your product as much as you do — rather than taking a step back and exercising an objective, critical assessment of who your audience truly is, perhaps even bringing data and analysis into the decision-making process.”

Digital marketers shouldn’t pass up on the tremendous ability to create hyper-targeted and well-strategized messaging. Specificity informs tone, style, and strategy.

Varo concluded, “When you know who you’re talking to, it’s much easier to devise a plan of action on how to talk to them.”

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