This isn't a "how to" blog. This is a straight up "tell you what to do" blog. Marketers (and when I say "marketers" I'm referring to everyone from Small Business Owners to CMOs - you need to KNOW your target audience.

I'm not saying "understand" or "analyze and synthesize their every movement" and "use data to anticipate their next action."

Well, I am saying that in general, but for this blog, for today, for this moment, I'm just saying FOCUS on KNOWING exactly who they are - like, you making a decision who they are.

Before the data tells you anything, you have to establish who you want to be talking to.

This is what I'm talking about knowing and focusing on.

Data Driven Design is the perfect example. I've made a decision. Out of all the potential people I could be selling our services to, I've chosen Small Business Owners.

They have marketing teams of 1-4 people. They have common challenges, and we have solutions.

It's that simple.

Target audiences can be more niche, of course. For example, I could say that I only want to sell our services to retail jewelry stores. And if that were the case, I could focus in on providing all kinds of digital marketing, web design and custom software services specifically to retail jewelry stores.

Target audiences can be more broad too, if you want. For example, I could say that I want to sell our services to any kind of business, enterprise level businesses, other agencies like ours, and on and on.

But I've chosen what I've chosen for a reason, and I know what those reasons are, and I focus on our target audience when it comes to our marketing messaging.

But I see businesses forget / overlook KNOWING their target audience all the time.

Here are the three most common mistakes I see that veer businesses off track from their target audience.

1. Eyes Bigger Than Their Stomach - Rather than being okay with serving one core target audience (broad or niche), marketers that believe their business solves a problem for multiple audiences can lose momentum really fast by spreading their budget way too thin, and confusing their audience, their colleagues and themselves in the process.

Your product or service may be good for pet owners, but shitty for veterinarians, for example. Or it may be amazing for "moms on the go," but un-relatable to "dads on the go."

2. The Spin-Off - What's good for dog owners may not be good for cat owners. What's good for doctors may not be good for nurses, and what's good for sports fans may not be good for athletes. The Spin-Off is a bit stupid and sometimes greedy. It's the assumption that one thing should work for another thing in a similar arena. The Spin-Off wreaks of lack of focus, and it quite simply widens margin for error in a business and marketing strategy.

3. The "Good Idea" / Non-Data Based Decision - Ah, my personal hell, the "Good Idea." Ideas without data backing them up really suck, honestly. I've seen many a "Good Idea" go down the shitter along with piles of money, because nobody did the research or analyzed the data to truly understand the opportunity within the market (i.e. - is this product or service even warranted or needed). Is this thing even a solution for anybody other than this "focus group of one" that thinks it's a good idea.

So, as you're building your business and executing your marketing strategy, reverse engineer things, and rebuild if you have to.

Get to the core of - who does your product or service solve a challenge / make life easier for best?

Focus on that group - the group that not only needs you and wants you - but the same group that will flourish based on what you provide them - and your marketing efforts (content, website, paid advertising) will be more successful than ever.

If you are just now thinking through this stuff for the first time, it's okay, it's a step in the right direction. But before you continue executing against a strategy that someone else told you is correct, or is "what you've always done," or "how it's always been done," take more than a moment to question it, look at some data around who your target audience is, who it should be, and get to KNOW them.

Thanks for reading, watching and listening, and have a great day!


Paul Hickey, Founder / CEO / Lead Strategist at Data Driven Design, LLC has created and grown businesses via digital strategy and internet marketing for more than 10 years. His sweet spot is using analytics to design and build websites and grow the audience and revenue of businesses via SEO/Blogging, Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, Social Media Content Marketing and Email Marketing. The part that he’s most passionate about is quantifying next marketing actions based on real data.

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