A few days ago I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when an ad popped up for Mountain Dew. It was a fun, brightly colored ad, which got my attention, but the only problem is that I don’t drink soda (not because I’m some health nut or anything, I just don’t prefer it). So I scrolled on past and ran into another ad for a jewelry company. This ad on the other hand completely captured me. I had been on the hunt for some new jewelry that wouldn’t break the bank and this ad showcased exactly what I was looking for and I clicked: hook, line, and sinker.
I started thinking about the two ads and I couldn’t quite figure out why I had gotten the Mountain Dew ad. I’m a 24-year-old female who enjoys reading, knitting, yoga, fashion, and reality TV. Maybe the people over at Mountain Dew know something I don’t, but to me, they clearly aren’t targeting their correct audience.
One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is not understanding their customers. The Mountain Dew ad would probably be perfect for someone with interests that align, but they fell short for me, making their ad spend a futile investment. Your customers are the driving force behind your success, and if you aren’t reaching them, you have a serious problem on your hands. But, in order to reach your customers, you first have to know your customers.
Cutting through the clutter of the digital world
Instagram, twitter, facebook, email, blogs, search ads, display ads – I could go on, but I’ll spare you. Readily available consumer channels make it easy for companies to reach their customers as long as they know who their customers are and where their customers are hanging out.
It’s like a phone call. You can’t just pick up a phone and start talking and expect your message to get to its intended recipient. First, you have to know the phone number to reach this person. And then you have to know the right things to say and call when they are home to get your message across clearly and effectively.
To determine which channels to invest more heavily in for your best chances of reaching your customers, you first need to know who your customers are.
Knowing your customers
So, who are your customers? What are their interests and values?
What are the driving forces behind their purchases and decisions?
These differences can vary wildly. A 16-year-old female that spends her free time watching beauty videos on YouTube and keeping up with the Kardashians of the world is probably not hanging out on the same digital channels as a 54-year-old father of three whose interests include triathlons and golfing.
On top of that, these two individuals probably don’t share exactly the same values and beliefs and most likely consider different factors when making purchasing decisions. So, how can you expect to reach your intended target without tailoring your brand, message, and platform to them?
One of the best ways to really understand your customers is by creating personas for them. To do this you can conduct interviews, send out surveys, and even use analytics to dive deeper into the browsing habits of your target audience. Don’t be afraid to get really specific with it- even going so far as naming your personas. It may take time to really nail down your customer personas, but once you have them, they are invaluable and will help you tailor all of your messaging to your audience.
For example, let’s create a persona for the 16-year-old we mentioned above and name her Hanna. We know Hanna loves beauty, fashion, and the Kardashians, but we can get more specific than that. She also is vegan, is interested in traveling, and loves dairy-free ice cream. She spends a lot of time on Instagram and Pinterest, following a lot of fashion, beauty, and lifestyle content.
Now imagine how much easier it will be to create and design content for Hanna than it would be for just a 16-year-old female. Knowing your customer and creating detailed personas helps you understand the needs and wants of your audience and step into their shoes to craft messages that connect. It also helps you determine where your best chances are of reaching them are.
Reaching your perfect customer
In the end, marketing is all about creating a connection between a brand and a customer. But you can’t do that if you aren’t targeting the right people. Mountain Dew may continue to target me with ads, but I’m most likely never going to buy a Mountain Dew. And, that’s the pain of not knowing your customers. You waste time and money dialing random numbers and hoping one day your call will make it through to the right person instead of just dialing the right number in the first place.