Many marketers feel that it’s a challenge to understand their target audience without spending a huge amount of time, money and resources. The easy path is to buy leads, use paid media, hire agencies, etc. While throwing money at the problem is quite easy, it’s a short-term mechanism. You need to build a lead strategy for the long haul, and that starts with understanding your audience.

How can you understand your target audience without spending huge amounts of time and money? Here are two ways to do it and they both don’t cost a thing.

1. Talk to your customers and your prospects

It should be a given, but you’d be surprised at how many marketers do not take the time to talk to their own customers and prospects. Not only is this free and shouldn’t take a lot of time (sit in on a few sales demos, for instance), but it will give you more insight into how to reach your audience than any other way.

Have conversations with your salespeople, your customer service team, and get to know the people that buy and use your product everyday. That’s going to give you a lot of insight into your prospects’ pain points and challenges. It will tell you the words they use, and how they speak about your product or service. As a marketer, you can tap into that and use similar language in your messaging.

Call a customer, buy them a cup of coffee, go to the conferences that they attend, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, such as:

  • How do you spend your morning?
  • What are some of your favorite websites?
  • What do you read everyday?
  • What keeps you up at night?

In general, people like to talk about themselves, so it’s fairly easy to get people to engage with you if you’re asking these open questions. They might seem simple and trivial to the customer, but they’re absolutely invaluable to a marketer.

2. Use Your Own Data

Your data gives you all of the information you need to learn crucial information about your customers, and hence, your audience. Dig into your CRM, your marketing automation platform, your web analytics, etc. and collect information about your customers, such as who they are, how they use your product, how often they use it, how they navigate your website, what content they like, etc. That’s going to give you a snapshot of your ideal customer, as well as where and how they spend their time, and it doesn’t cost money or take a ton of time.

Data quality is a crucial piece to effectively use your own data for customer insight. If your data is dirty, your reports are skewed, you cannot segment, and you may not have a clear picture of your customers or prospects, such as their titles, what products they use, when they renew, etc. Therefore, before you tap into your data, work with your data steward (the person who owns the data at your organization, such as marketing operations, IT, CTO, etc.), to ensure your data is clean, up to date, and free of duplicates. Then you can pull demographic, firmographic and behavioral reports to answer your burning questions.

What other inexpensive or free ways do you learn more about your audience for effective outreach?

As a marketer, duplicate data really holds you back from achieving your goals. Learn how to stop dupes once and for all with this