Being a marketer today isn’t an easy job. Consumers and businesses have become increasingly complicated and smarter about how they purchase products and services. This obviously makes a marketer’s job harder because old, easy ways just won’t work anymore. We have to evolve and the methods we use have to evolve as well.

A lot of marketers are doing a lot, but doing very little at the same time. In other words, a lot of us are confused as to what is the best way to reach our target customer. We do a whole bunch of research, use tons of growth hacking methods, talk to tons of influencers, and use fancy marketing jargon just to realize that there’s a deeper reason why we’re not connecting with our target audience.

Thankfully, I’m here to give you those deeper reasons. Your marketing efforts WILL fail if any of these are true for you. These are fundamental issues you have to fix before you take the next step in your marketing journey. Here’s why you have trouble connecting with your target audience:

You Don’t Understand Them

Human beings have a tendency of not being able to empathize. That’s why see a lot of violence, bias, and hate in the world.

What does this have to do with marketing?

In order to effectively market to your target audience, you must empathize with them. Empathy is the ability to identify with or understand another’s situation or feelings. Companies have a bad habit of not empathizing with their customers. They’re doing more talking than listening. Their advertising is doing more screaming than understanding. Their content is mostly promotional and lacks educational value. A prime example of this is a lot of companies’ struggles with reaching millennials.

Marketing Target Audience - Marketing Jar

Millennials are a special breed of people (this sounds funny). Old marketing methods don’t work with us. We require companies to be authentic, engage in two-way communication, and include us in their brand story. Melanie Curtin from Opiatalk put it perfectly in her LinkedIn blog post. She says, “Part of the reason I dislike traditional advertising is that it’s boring. I want to be able to relate to the brands I’m buying from. I want them to speak my language.”

What’s one way to start understanding your customers? Buyer personas. Don’t just assume you know what your customers want. Do extensive research and develop buyer profiles to create targeted content and marketing campaigns. Here is a really good blog post by the folks at Radius that guides you through the process.

You’re Targeting The Wrong Audience

Okay, so you think you know everything there is to know about your target audience and your product is pretty decent. But your marketing metrics are telling you that your marketing is failing. By now, you’re confused as hell. What’s wrong?

You’re targeting the wrong audience.

News Flash: Your product or service isn’t for everyone. This is basically like falling in love with the wrong woman/man. This can only happen if you haven’t done enough research or if you’re just afraid of your competition and decided to desperately go after another segment. Targeting the wrong audience wastes time and money. You’ll end up creating marketing campaigns for people who want nothing to do with you.

Don’t cheat yourself! Do research on your target audience beforehand and let the numbers be your guide.


The Simple Key To Identifying The Right Audience

Here’s the simple key to identifying the right audience. It all boils down to human behavior and the way we consume.

We all understand the concept of wants and needs. Needs are things that are deemed essential to our daily lives. This varies depending on how people define needs. Wants are things that we think will enhance our lives and make us happier. Ethics aside, as a company it’s in your best interest to appeal to people’s wants.

Let’s take cigarette smokers for example. People who smoke cigarettes need to stop smoking, and a lot of people who smoke realize this. However, what they want is to continue smoking. If you’re a cigarette company (no matter how unethical it is), you want to appeal to people’s wants, not needs. What people need isn’t necessarily what they want, and most people buy based on what they want.

Marketing Target Audience - Wants & Needs

The bottom line is you should identify the target audience that would want your product. It also helps if they need it. And no, you cannot create a need, no matter what textbooks tell you. All you’re doing is creating a want and identifying and meeting a need.

Side Note: I firmly believe that every company has social responsibility. No matter what your monetary goals are, you should always promote healthy living and a healthier Earth.

Your Product Is Flawed

You may have the most in-depth research report and buyer personas of your target audience and have studied them in and out. But your marketing is still failing and you’re clueless. Why is that?

Your product is flawed or lacks the features that your target audience wants (here we go with the want thing again).

This part has nothing to do with marketing. Marketing’s job is to communicate the value of a product or service to the target audience. The problem is we often find ourselves communicating the wrong things. If your product isn’t good enough, it’ll show in your marketing, and your target audience won’t be very receptive.

Creating a product that your target audience wants starts with research. I’m not talking about looking through Google to read articles either. I’m talking about the type of research that puts you face-to-face with your customer to understand what they want, what they don’t like, and what it will take for them to use your product. Here are four ways you can encourage customer feedback:

  1. Develop surveys
  2. Engage in online communities where your customers spend their time
  3. Reach out 1-on-1 through email
  4. Take your key customers out to lunch or dinner (this helps a lot)

All in all, it takes time to find the right audience. Sometimes the lines are blurred, and what seemed like the perfect audience really isn’t. Never leave the information-seeking phase and always trust what your metrics tell you. Numbers never lie.