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In order to market a product or service successfully, there are certain pieces of information we need to know and understand.
First, there is the product itself…
What is it?
What problem / need / want does it satisfy?
How does it do that?
But we also need to understand the marketplace and, more importantly, our clients / customers.
Many businesses, when asked, will have a generic description of who their ideal client is:
“Females aged between 25 and 40, who like __________ and are into __________.”
The problem with this approach is a dangerous one - it immediately starts us thinking of things in a very generic way.
Effective marketing is hyper-targeted, providing a specific message that will resonate with a specific person / type of person.
To understand this, we don’t need to look further than basic human psychology - as we age, we learn and experience new things. The ways in which we react to any given situation or stimulus changes with that increased awareness that we build up, over time.
Social influence comes into play and magnifies the difference in our reactions based on our levels of experience and learning, thanks to ever-increasing connectivity to stimuli.
What does this all mean?
Ultimately, the way in which a 25-year-old thinks and reacts, compared to that of a 35 or 45-year-old and every other generation, is increasingly different. This means that you should be marketing to different age groups in a way that appeals to the way they think and react.
A marketing campaign that attracts 45-year-olds will rarely attract 25-year-olds with the same success, and so on.
The analogy I often use when discussing this topic is to think of a road trip you recently made. Can you remember what was on any of the billboards you passed on your journey?
Now, imagine if one of the billboards you passed clearly identified that it was speaking to people of your age and gender. People with the same interests and hobbies, or maybe profession as you.
Do you think you would have noticed it? Most people would - their subconscious picks up that what they have seen is a message directed specifically to them. The more targeted the message is, the more likely you would be to notice.
Now ask yourself this: Would you rather run a marketing campaign “one inch deep but miles wide” or one that is “one inch wide but miles deep”?
The campaign that is miles wide will always underperform. It’s not able to break through the subconscious barrier and gain the attention of your prospect, no matter how many of them pass it.
The hyper-targeted campaign, one inch wide but miles deep, may not appeal to the majority of people that pass, but for those that match your targeting, it will draw them in, gain their attention and actually deliver the sales message.
The solution is not to think of your ideal client as a range of people but as a group of single people.
When asked the question: “Who do you sell to?” Can you describe the individuals that make up the majority of your target market?
Start by imagining that single most “ideal” client - this may be someone you have already worked with or who you imagine them to be. Quite often, when working with clients who sell higher ticket items, it may be a combination of the best traits that a couple of their better clients displayed.
Start to describe this client on paper. (NB: If using actual client information, please be sure to conform to current data protection rules and guidelines).
Give the “ideal” client a name, this will help you think of them as a single person.
List their age, marital status, social standing, education level, life-cycle stage (Do they have kids? Grandkids? Are they retired? Just starting a career? Newly qualified? Etc.)
What are their interests? What would they read, watch, listen to?
The more “relevant” information you can add the better and, by relevant, I mean information that can separate them out but still remains a true defining trait. So, if music preference bears no influence on what you sell, leave it out.
If at a future date, via surveys and cohort analysis, you find out that this particular avatar is specifically drawn to one artist in particular, it may be worth including in the avatar. This could prove to be useful in targeting them with copy or on the ad platforms you are using. It could also be useful in providing incentives, running competitions, etc., which are engineered to attract more of this type of person to your marketing.
Once you have one “client” described, repeat the process again, detailing out any others you can easily identify as an ideal client type.
What separates them out from everyone else? Normally, these in-depth client avatars will be split based on age and gender, or even by interest. Sometimes, it’s where they can be found online or in the real world.
At the end of the process, you should have a comprehensive picture of who your ideal clients actually are.
The other added benefit comes from the potential of success with other marketing strategies. Thoroughly understanding who your “individual” ideal clients are opens the door to creating successful Joint Ventures - renting the correct database, identifying the most ideal complementary products to what you currently offer, etc.
It can also help you identify hidden gaps in the market, which your competitors have no idea exist!
Is it more effort than what everyone else does? Yes, but it depends on how you measure that effort.
I would far rather expend energy in a way that gives me a better chance of getting results.