I love USA’s Mr. Robot. If you haven’t seen it (no spoilers, I promise), the story is about a bunch of hackers who use technology to disrupt the status quo. Society as a whole is thrown for a loop and forced to rethink everything they once knew.

Hey marketers – does that sound familiar? Our comfy little marketing world has been hacked. We’ve over-engineered the marketing technology stack. Most of us are are so busy scrambling to figure out all the new tools that we forget the most important thing.

Know your audience.

And this is another thing Mr. Robot does so well. Take the opening sequence of season 2, episode 5 (or eps.2.3_logic-b0mb.hc for your Mr. Robot nerds). There’s an audio Easter egg that an audio engineer recognized as an image being rendered as sound. When you process that tone, it’s a kitten hanging from a branch with the iconic “hang in there” message. You know, the one from that poster we all had in our bedrooms during fourth grade.


This is a perfect example of how well USA knows its audience. First, the hidden message played well with some of the challenges the characters were facing. Second, the show had taken some weird turns, so it may have been a message to the audience to stick with it. And lastly, they realized their audience was smart enough to figure it out and motivated to share what they found.

This is exactly what we, as marketers, should be working toward: knowing our audience well, and creating content they actually seek out and share – like that audio Easter egg. Getting there is another thing entirely.

In LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions blog this week, Sean Callahan captured quotes from Advertising Week New York. Two of them get to the heart of the matter of knowing your audience (when looked at together).

“70 percent of the impact of a campaign is driven by the creative. You can target them, but if you show them the wrong thing, you’re wasting an opportunity.” — Karin Hennessy, Product Manager, DoubleClick

“A/B test everything and you will become increasingly relevant to customers.” —Russ Glass, VP-Product, LinkedIn Marketing Solution.

True, the creative drives the campaign and it has to be the right creative for the audience you’re targeting. What if that Mr. Robot audio Easter egg was something other than the kitten – would it have resonated and gotten fans as excited as it did? Hard to tell. By knowing the audience, USA nailed the creative and got the episode to go viral on places like Reddit, where many of their core demographic hang out online.

I’m also a huge proponent of A/B testing (and sometimes we’ll throw in a C and D version just for good measure). This is how you get to know your audience. Test the content and creative, test it again, and fine tune it so you know it works. Then you can be pretty sure that it will work with the same type of audience in the future.

So take a lesson from Mr. Robot or your own favorite. Get the 70 percent right with killer creative and bridge the gap with testing and targeting. Just never forget the most important ingredient in the mix: your audience.