Know your audience

Knowing audience is key first step in marketing: Understanding important clients will provide clues on how to approach them

Communication is a tricky thing. You can craft a beautiful story and tell it eloquently, but if you aren't speaking to the right people—in a language that resonates—those who matter the most won't hear what you have to say.

Every business relies on building and maintaining trust to grow. That makes connecting with your audience in positive, thoughtful ways absolutely crucial.

Also critical to your success is clear, consistent, audience-appropriate communication. But before you can get your message across, you have to know exactly who it is that you are trying to reach.

Do you even know who your audience is? Not who it was before the recession, the rise of Facebook and smart-phone mania—but who it is today?

A lot has changed. Since the global economy hit the skids in 2007, people are living, spending, saving and thinking differently.

PERMANENT CHANGES

Research shows that these will likely be permanent behavioral changes. Technology has made working from our pocket seem less like a concept from “Star Trek” and turned it into an absolute necessity for today's business professional.

Don't make assumptions. One bad piece of business can take up as much time as five good ones.

Constantly review your customer roster to help determine what you consider ideal, common characteristics. disposable income? Color preference? Shared values? Level of sophistication and an appreciation for what you do? If these are your best clients you should know them.

Partner with professionals in complementary industries. When someone else shares your view of the world, they will certainly help spread your good word.

Invest in good research, and leverage the qualities of your top clients to be sure that you are targeting the right customers for your company. Remember: It has as much to do with who they are as what your company values and offers.

Once you have determined who your key customers are, you need to get to know them in ways that go much deeper than ever before. You need to understand their drives, their goals, their motivations, how they make lifestyle decisions, what is ultimately important to them, what they have in common and what factions exist within that group.

Blanket broadcasting is an inefficient way to use your resources. People don't want to be painted with a broad stroke. They want you to get personal and to speak to them specifically in the company's communication effort. This also means different methods for different recipients.

Guessing who your audience is, how they have evolved and where they now operate is just lazy. It is certainly not going to garner you new business, and it isn't going to help you retain your current customers. You will lose.

STRONG MESSAGE

If you understand the people or organizations that you want to reach, you already have a good base for developing a strong message. If your audiences are the kind of people who have plunged full-force into adoption of mobile applications, perhaps that is an arena that your firm should understand better and consider participating in.

Or maybe your audience still doesn't spend much time online and you need to develop ways of reaching them that doesn't rely on computers and smart phones.

Whatever the case, the places where your audience hangs out and the tools that they use in their daily lives give you clues about how they want to be approached and what they will take time to listen to.

Knowing who you are looking for and what matters to them is just the starting point. Use that information to give your audience what they need, where they want it.

Suddenly building trust and creating clarity in who you are, what you do and why you matter becomes much easier to do.

Your audience is thinking, “Wow, they really are talking to me and understanding my values—they get me.” This is infinitely preferable to getting passed over because your company is projecting an image that is completely out of touch with the realities of people's everyday lives.

Communication can be tricky... It can also be perfectly effective.