Define Your Audience – Here’s Why

Defining your audience is standard advice in marketing guides, blogs and textbooks. Many small businesses skip it or barely do it at all. Here’s why you should.
  • better results from promotions

  • better results from your employees and vendors
Audience (singular) and Audiences (plural) Below I use the words audience and audiences somewhat interchangeably. Most business have multiple audiences. Here I mean one or more audiences or whatever is appropriate for your situation.

Better Promotion Results

One important factor in promotion is the Next Step Rate.
Next Step Rate
For a promotional project, the next step rate (NSR) is the number or percentage of people who take the next step in your sales process.
The NSR is similar to response rate, click rate or conversion rate. It’s my own term that’s more general referring to whatever is the next step in your sale process, which is the goal of any promotion. Sometimes the next step is a click, sometimes an in-bound phone call, sometimes a follow-up appointment, sometimes a sale. Increased NSR is the goal of defining your audience.

Audience Selection

If your promotion reaches 5000 people, you can get a better NSR if you can select who makes up those 5000 people. For instance, if you’re selling lawn service, you’ll get a better NSR with home owners than apartment dwellers. And you’ll get a better NSR from affluent home owners than from low-income home owners who can’t afford your service. You’ll get a better NSR from senior citizens than from 25-year-olds because seniors are more likely to have physical impairments than youngsters who can cut their own grass. You can go on defining people most likely to respond to your promotions. Possible factors include:
  • age
  • gender
  • race
  • occupation
  • income
  • education
  • location
  • priorities
  • likes and dislikes
  • politics
  • religion
  • hot-button issues & buzzwords
  • needs, goals, problems
  • role in purchasing decisions
  • psychological factors
And lots more.

Better Messages

When you define who will most likely respond, you can better tailor your message. For instance, when selling lawn service to affluent home owners, you could emphasize quality and attention to detail. When selling lawn service to corporate property managers, you could emphasize value and your capacity to service a large corporate property. At first, this seems obvious, and the example above is. But more subtle distinctions among audiences can lead you to better messaging for those audiences.

Better Methods

You reach different audiences by different methods. Back to our lawn service example, you can reach home owners with mailing lists, Every Door Direct Mail or door hangers. You can reach corporate customers by direct mail to a filtered mailing list or by exhibiting at appropriate trade shows.

Better Results from Employees and Vendors

If you are the only person involved in your marketing and promotions, you can keep it all in your head. However, if you have employees and vendors who help, they can better help if they understand the audience you’re trying to reach. Detailed profiles for each of your audiences raise that understanding better and faster. Everything above (better message, better methods) applies, too. Your staff can better help you at any step in your sales process when they know whom you are trying to reach and who is most likely to respond to your promotions.

Macro Plans to Micro Projects

You can apply this generally to your entire company over a long period, and you can apply this to individual projects targeting segments of your audience. Start with a general description. If your business is small and simple, maybe that’s all you need. I encourage you to go beyond that and include specifics that are relevant. Sometimes extensive profiling is needed, and other times a few details are enough. Use whatever is appropriate for your business, your product and your audience. In any case, define your audience.