As I think about marketing and social media and delve into what core problems cause so much challenge in a marketers world, I come to a glaring issue that trumps so many other things. I see people in a rat race looking for the latest and greatest tips to get ahead, achieve success, and pass their competition. The problem is that there is a flaw in this endless race. The problem is that I think most people may be talking to the wrong audience. This post is going to look at the real value of finding your audience and how not doing that can void almost every other marketing action you are taking.
I remember a sales trainer once did a demonstration by asking for the best two salespeople out of thousands at the conference to come up for a sales competition. They chose their favorite products and they would compete to see who was the best salesperson based on the crowd judging with cheers. They chose their favorite product and would pretend to sell it to two pretend buyers, the whiteboard, and the monitor on stage. They used a variety of tactics and sales pitches and after each was done the trainer asked them to come forward and the crowd judged and chose the winner. The winner was beaming with pride for being the best among his peers. Then the sales trainer asked for the check. The top salesperson started to write a fake check and the trainer said, no he wanted a real check for the product. A moment of silence fell on the crowd as everyone listened to the sales trainer.
He then explained that the winner hadn’t actually made a sale. He was selling a water filter to a whiteboard and no matter how good he was, he hadn’t made any money because whiteboards don’t buy water filters. This was a brilliant teaching and has stuck with me for over 15 years. The same is happening in social media and marketing right now. The old model was talk to a very large audience who might have some of your potential customers in it. This was expensive and produced a small percentage of replies. Then came social media.
Now companies are failing because they are trying to use social media to broadcast messages to what they hope is a large audience with daydreams of going viral. A flood of content and advice centering around tactics and strategies for every platform is saturating every fearful business owner and marketer. They all want glorious following metrics and the smart ones want the brass ring of conversions and ROI. But most will go into the maze of marketing tactics and never come out for one reason. They are talking to the wrong people.
There are so many ways to segment audiences and many layers that can help you receive all you want with way less effort. It reminds me of the Robert De Niro scene from Taxi Driver which people quote even if they don’t know where it came from, “Are you talking to me, because I don’t see anyone else here” This is how most people’s social media audiences must feel most of the time. They are being talked to but the messages are not always relevant to them. The result is they will ignore you, scroll past you, or unfriend you.
The key is first to know yourself, your brand, your story (STOP! most people are telling themselves “check” I know those things… No you don’t and stop telling yourself that). What makes you different than anyone or everyone else. What stands out about you or your product or brand? Even if you know that, how does that line up with your current audience let alone your target audience. This will create resonance when your unique brand and story are in alignment with your audience and add value to them. Most people never get this clarity and then pile on marketing tactics and tools to no avail.
When you are in “tune” with yourself and your audience, you will create effortless loyalty and engagement. This requires two things: appreciation and authenticity. Appreciation is a result of you adding value to your audience. This grows into loyalty and engagement.