The key to social media success, we are told again and again, is to “Know your audience”. And like many clichés, it’s true.
Understanding who you are targeting allows you to create exactly the kind of content that appeals to your potential clients, building up a relationship between you, so that when they are ready to buy – you are their obvious option.
Surface knowledge about demographics is nowhere near enough. To effectively appeal to them, you really need to understand their priorities, needs, worries.
Again and again, though, we have found that businesses assume they intuitively understand their potential clients – and then, when they sit in on focus groups, or read the market research, are shocked to discover that many of their basic assumptions were wrong. They may have been out-of-date, based on guesswork, or perhaps they just knew less about them than they thought.
Does that apply to you? Picture your ideal clients, the ones who bring in the most revenue and you most want to develop a relationship with. Now let’s take a little quiz…
1. Who are they? – Gender, age, job title, how much do they make, where do they live? An easy one (I hope) to start you off…
2. When they’re not at work, where do they hang out? Do you understand their lifestyle? It’s important even if you’re B2B – you’re still selling to people.
3. What are they particularly proud of accomplishing? Do you understand their values, and what makes them tick?
4. How do they like to be seen by others? What image is important to them? The best marketing appeals to people’s egos…
5. What is the biggest purchase they made last year? Will give you an idea of budget, budgetary pressures, and priorities.
6. What are the three biggest stresses in their personal life and/or professional life (B2B)? If you want to convince them to spend time and money with you, you need to understand what’s emotionally important to them. You will find it easiest to sell if your product solves one of their biggest stresses, which brings us to the next question…
7. What problem does your product or service solve for them? Warning: This is almost a trick question. Most people have a pretty standard answer for this that usually aligns to the way they talk about their own product.
For example, if you’re selling clocks, you might say that your clients need to know the time, or if you’re in recruitment, you might say that companies have positions to fill.
It’s very likely, though, that their reasons are actually more complicated: Parents might need a clock because they are too tired to get up in the morning or because they want to teach their children to tell time.
The company you are recruiting for might be experiencing many resignations and be pretty desperate just to stay afloat – or expanding at an enormous rate, and keen for the best. It makes a big difference!
8. What personal benefits will they derive if they use your product? Let’s use the same examples as in the last question – because this isn’t obvious!
If a parent’s buying a clock so they can wake up on time, the ultimate benefit might be better interaction with their children, because they are no longer oversleeping and having to rush everyone out the door each morning.
If you’re in recruitment, the real benefit for a boss is not just filling a hole in their exec team, but perhaps a reduced workload because they’re no longer doing the job of two people – and more time to golf….
9. What aspect of your product or service do they find most important? Can you be really specific – for example, if they find you ‘easy to work with’, what does this actually mean? If it’s the ‘look and feel’ of your product, what do they actually like about it?
10. What are the top 3 reasons potential clients decide not to buy from you? Self-explanatory, but not necessarily obvious. It might have as much to do with internal factors in their own company, or personal relationships, or a variety of other factors, as with your capabilities!
11. What experience triggers their decision to start looking for your product? You must understand their buying cycle.
12. Who do your clients consult with before they buy your product? These people might influence their decision to buy, and you might need to direct content at them as well.
13. What online resources do your clients consult with before they buy your product? You need to know what information they’ve accessed – and might want to find a way to be present there yourself.
14. What 3 websites do they visit every day? Will help you understand their internet preferences, interests, lifestyle, and perhaps also give you another place to reach them.
15. Where do clients most like interacting with you? In person, online, phone, email, snail mail? It’s not about where they interact right now – do you know what their actual preference is?
16. Do they find your website user-friendly? Do you know the answer for sure?
17. Are the majority of your Facebook fans male or female? Just checking how much you know about who is actually following you on social media at the moment.
18. Who are your clients’ biggest competitors? (B2B) Understanding their business environment will help you anticipate their needs and understand their pressures.
19 How do they interact with your own competitors? Do they visit their website? Call them? Request demos?
20. After they’ve bought, which parts of your service or product do they actually use? Let’s go back to that clock we sold in questions 7 and 8. Your customers might be buying it because they want to get up earlier in the morning, but if they’re actually using it to listen to the radio in the kitchen or as they’re falling asleep, how does this change the way you interact with them online after the sale?
So how did you do? If you felt that you were stumbling or guessing at many of these questions, getting to know your audience better is a matter of urgency. Your business depends on it!
But we have a plea for those of you who felt confident that you knew most of these answers, as well. Unless your knowledge is based on very recent interviews or market research, don’t be glib – please test out your assumptions.
The worst mistake you can make is to assume that clients see your product, and its benefits, the same way you do!
Speak to your sales team. Speak to the clients themselves. Conduct interviews. Build proper buyer personas! Make sure that you are building your marketing strategy, online and offline, on what is true – and not on just what you believe to be true. You may be shocked to discover what your clients are really thinking…
Miriam Shaviv is director of content at Brainstorm Digital
If you liked this piece, you might enjoy:
- Why your competitors are your closest allies on social media
- 5 things every content marketer should learn from Facebook’s Look Back videos
- Face it: Your customers are just not that into you