Whether you are writing a blog, creating a campaign or marketing a product – one of the most important things to decide is Who are you talking to?

As a marketing consultant and former agency executive, I have seen far too many projects begin with the end goal defined – “We want 10,000 followers on our blog” or “Success will be selling out our first batch of widgets in three months” but no real thought about who the audience is.  While it’s good to know what you are shooting for and it’s important to have goals – unless you know who’s going to get you there – your goal maybe more of a pipe dream.  Let’s take a look at the example of building a blog and also a second example of launching a new product.

The Blog 

You have great information!  You have smart writers with something to say.  That’s a good start.  But who’s going to care?  Who will want to read what you have to say? Sometimes this is the point when one realizes their obscure point of view is only going to appeal to a small population. That’s OK but it may require re-assessing your goals. If you are trying to build a following – you’ll need to define who your prime reader is.

Let’s say the blog is about fitness. While there are certainly tens of thousands of potential followers out there who would be interested in fitness – this is still a very broad category. A mom wanting to lose weight is looking for something different from a body builder getting ready for their next competition. Trying to write a fitness blog that serves both of these populations would most likely fall flat. The more specific you can be with your audience – the more successful you can be.

Our fitness blog is going to target women age 30-50 wanting to get back in shape or try new exercises. We’ll address issues such as losing the baby weight, working out with a hectic schedule, family-friendly activities and healthy meals for families.  You can see this is not going to appeal to our body builder even though it is a fitness blog. By really defining our target, we also define where to market our blog. Instead of wasting resources and time advertising at Golds Gym or Body Builder magazine, we can hone in on avenues with receptive audiences such as Parent sites, and women’s health magazines. By defining our audience and being specific, we can show up where she will be, create content that she’s going to like and share and not waste time or resources where she is not.

Product Launch

You have a new product – it’s amazing!  You are so excited about it and think everyone should love it.  Realistically, though, not everyone is going to be quite as excited as you.  Let’s stay with our fitness theme and say our product is a workout gizmo aimed at building bigger biceps.  We’ve priced it at $99 because it’s made with high quality products and comes with a 10 year guarantee.  Right there – our price is going to eliminate some potential buyers.  That’s OK – but we need to realize that our target has to be a workout enthusiast, interested in building muscle, with some disposable income.

We could try advertising our gizmo on our fitness blog from above – but we’d probably see little result.  Women tend to steer clear of items that promise to add bulk and the mom crowd may have fewer funds to spend on their own interest.  We’d be better served targeting 20 and 30 something single men with careers who workout regularly.  Our ads for this product are going to appear in very different places than our fitness blog even though they are both fitness items.  For the our bicep gizmo we may want to partner with a Gold’s Gym or purchase ads in Body Builder Magazine.  Knowing who is MOST likely to buy our product let’s us spend our advertising dollars wisely and get the most bang for our advertising buck.

Sure, we may have a mom purchase our bicep gizmo or a body builder follow our fitness blog – but they are the exception.  Really understanding our audience and who we should target not only makes our marketing job simpler – it makes it more cost-effective, too.

Next time you are approaching a project that you intend to promote, ask yourself – Who is really going to care about this?  Who am I talking to?  Begin with your subject in mind and you’ll gain more traction and more success.