Ryan Stoner | Brand Strategist

As a strategist, my goal has always been to know my customer and extract what “must haves” matters to them. This means:

  • Search for real audience insights and opportunities to ensure all is known about the customer, brand, category, project, et cetera.
  • Understand what makes this opportunity different, special or competitive (capitalizing on competitor weaknesses.)
  • Once those insights have been identified turn the ideas around them into solutions: Marrying insights to a genuine product or brand truths and help to explain and clarify the logic of where we are going and why it matters in order to encourage customers to tell stories about us.

Any savvy business person knows that identifying the target audience for a marketing message means more potential leads, conversions, and sales. In years past, this might have been tackled through demographic studies or charts of buying trends, but these hands-off approaches to best customer identification and development simply no longer works in today’s world.

These days, everyone from marketers to entrepreneurs pitching to VCs need to delve deeper into what makes their audience tick, what they want, and how they look for it. Analytics, and information like age or income level and what they bought last month will always be helpful as a track for targeting your message, but in my experience that won’t get customers in the door.

(And not only can the right message sell your brand, it can actually get consumers to do the marketing for you.)

Be User Focused

Make sure that you solve problems that exist, and make sure you are solving them in a way that appeals to the people that are actually affected by these problems.

Seek Out People Who Love What You Do

If you are solving a problem in an elegant way, your fans are out there, they just haven’t discovered you yet. Find them. Knowing who those fans are comes from inherently knowing what void your product/service is filling.

Forget Assumptions About What Your Customer Audience Wants

Millennials can only digest 140-character blurbs. Older people don’t know how to use the Internet or mobile devices properly. Only middle-aged moms, professional men, teenage girls, or senior citizens buy things like mine. Assumptions like these block any chance of understanding and reaching the people who are truly interested in what you have all.

Go Where the People Go Start Conversations

Gather data by targeting the full range of customers — happy, unhappy, recent, early, active, inactive — across geographies and through no fewer than three channels, including; surveys, phone interviews, product intercept surveys, etc. Truly learn about your audience and what it takes to develop them as customers. Research trends, get involved, and share your message the right way.

Put the Focus on Relationship Building

Engage existing and target users to learn how to make your product a “must have.” Customers who react positively to the product and our willing to pay for it. Focus time & research on talking with customer (Coffee meetings with prospects are a way for you to understand every detail of their problem).

Now more than ever before, consumers want to get to know people behind the company, what they stand for, and how they will interact with them on a long-term basis. With so many products and services available to choose from, a company needs something extra to rise to the top. How well they cultivate their target audience and invite them into their world frequently translates into a stronger professional bond or, at its most basic, more sales or contracts.

The goal isn’t friendship. Instead, the goal is a bond filled with trust, mutual appreciation, and value mostly for customers and not you. This is why content marketing is so popular and effective in the current Internet marketing world. Deliver the type of content your target wants, when they wanted, and where as well.

Authenticity isn’t easy to achieve, but it is simple: You have to listen, you have to be honest, and you have to be thoughtful with your message.

Be Flexible Based Off Consumer Feedback

As you learn more about your audience, you have to be receptive to the things you hear from them. Even if it’s upsetting to hear, or presents a difficult problem to solve, you have to take this feedback to heart and use it. After all, you sought them out.

React and Adapt Quickly

Listening to your consumers means really listening, but it also means taking action. From a small tweak in marketing language to a large product pivot, it’s important to take action and adapt your mindset quickly to keep pace. Just remember to be thoughtful, rather than reflexive, in your reactions.

The Delivery Method Matters

Especially since so many people are accessing the web from smartphones and other mobile devices it is outpacing other more traditional ways of pitching your message. You have to tailor your message to the medium, and you have to know which medium is the place to find your ideal customer. You have to live where your clientele lives. Highlight the benefits described by your “must have” users (those that say they would be very disappointed without your product).

Get People Excited

Remember, while you are you are speaking to the people who really care in an impactful way to get information, you are also talking to those who care the most. Use this time to incite excitement in your product, and be innovative. Don’t just be a fact-gatherer, also be a missionary.

It’s important to listen to your audience. Spend time in their spaces. Open up to even the most critical feedback. See what other people are doing to engage your idea market, and instead of copying it, adapt it to be unique to your brand.