In one of my previous marketing class, I had to draft up an individual profile that would be representative of a certain brand's target audience. I had to include the age-range of this consumer, where he lives, what he likes to do, what his profession is, and include a picture of what this consumer would look like.
This detailed description can provide your inbound marketing team with a clear vision of its target customers. In the practice of traditional marketing, this target audience was commonly reached by deciding what TV shows they watched to determine where to place TV advertisement, figuring out what kind of music they listened to determine which radio stations to focus radio commercials, and knowing what they enjoyed reading so print ads were published in the right newspapers or magazines.
But haven’t you heard? These techniques are outbound, ineffective, and immeasurable! People are recording their favorite TV shows and fast-forwarding through commercials, jamming to their favorite music on ad-free iPods, and reading content online. It’s crazy town—but as a marketer, you have to be a part of it.
So let’s take a look at these 3 distinct differences between how marketers used to reach their target audiences, and how they must reach them today.
1. Find Them Online
Then: Conventional efforts to reach your audience included knowing where these consumers resided so that you could reach them geographically. That way, you knew if you should be paying for a suburban newspaper ad or an urban newspaper ad.
Now: Marketers must find where these people are online. Perhaps your audience flocks more to Facebook than Twitter, or maybe they are more concentrated in an industry-specific social network. As a marketer, the time and effort you spend on these networks should reflect that. Be present and participate where your audience is participating. Use analytics to guide you: take advantage of Facebook Insights, use Twitter analytics like Bit.ly, and implement other tracking tools to monitor traffic and leads from these sites to determine what is effective and how you should be allocating your time.
2. Be Part of the Conversation
Then: When you talk about customer service before the internet and social media, people would wait in long lines, sit on the phone for hours, or fill out complaint forms. You would then give them a muddled response or sometimes just blow them off because hey, it’s only one person, right?
Now: Wrong. Anything negative about your company is now easily transmittable through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social networks. Businesses must not only monitor their brand and be prepared to respond at any moment to these complaints and clear the virtual air, but also be engaging with prospects and customers online in general. Join groups and discussions on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other online sites where people are discussing a topic relating to your product or service. Use Google Alerts and social media monitoring software to monitor conversations about your brand. Participating in these dialogues by sharing your opinion and providing answers to questions will show your audience that you care.
3. Change the Way You Communicate
Then: The marketing world used to solely be a one-way communication-based industry. As a campaign was executed, some PR or media relations specialist would take the story your brand described and pitch it to traditional media outlets in your target market. The hope would be that it would get picked up and covered in the media so your target audience could see what you were all about. What people thought, or how many people even the read story, was left to circulation numbers—which isn’t the best method of measuring your reach. Let's face it: not everyone who purchased that magazine or watched that broadcast necessarily paid attention to that particular story.
Now: Communication is now two-way and asymmetrical. Brands are engaging with prospects and customers through social media and telling their stories through business blogging. Getting media attention is still important, though many articles and broadcasts are now posted online. This allows marketers to clearly analyze and better understand what their audience's reactions are with online marketing analytics that report on comments, traffic, inbound links, leads, etc.
Use Google's Keyword Tool (or if you’re a HubSpot customer, our Keyword Grader tool) to conduct keyword research and unveil what your target audience is searching for in relation to your product or service. Then, talk about it. Create blog posts that contain content your target audience wants, and don’t feel the need to limit it to just text. If your audience hates to read but sits on YouTube all day, then you should have a series of videos for them to watch that answers their questions and keeps them engaged. If your audience has an even shorter attention span, perhaps a quick infographic or cartoon that catches their eye is what you should be producing.