A successful marketer knows how to read people. I think about this every day, as I’m creating strategies, programs and content for my clients, and always can hear Kenny Loggins singing in my head. “I’ve made a living out of reading people’s faces…” We used to have to put together elaborate buyer personas, and market to people who fit into those molds. However, with the rise of social media, and the increasing number of people from all demographics using various social media platforms, we can now create content and programming based on real people.
Prior to social media, marketing tactics were more widespread. We could put together a great promotion and send it out to a wide variety of stores, or place an ad in a newspaper where hundreds of people would see it, or even put up a billboard. That was how we used to reach people. We would throw messages out en masse, in hopes that it would reach both our current customers and potential new customers.
That doesn’t work anymore. Today, we realize that we need to personalize content, to “each” person, and market to that “one” person. Consumers today are not just smarter to the ways of marketing, but they are suffering from marketing messaging and ad fatigue. Even if a great ad comes across them, they might tune it out without even meaning to – there are simply too many messages being thrown out there on too many mediums today.
So, how does someone break through that? If people are tuning out ads without even knowing they’re doing it, how can we ensure our messaging won’t get tuned out? It is a lot easier than many marketing folks realize, and while it takes more work to market with personalization, it will help ensure the messages are landing where they need to be.
1. Know Who You Are Talking To
This goes a bit deeper than simply saying “know your target audience.” You need to get more specific in your head with who IN your target audience you are speaking to. My target audience for a brand I work with might be men and women, ages 18-40 who live in Southern California. Sounds pretty specific, right? Yet it’s not specific enough. I need to delve deeper and start listening to what segmented groups of that audience are saying about my brand, what their buying habits are, and how I can reach them before they even realize my brand can enhance their life.
2. Relate Your Messaging to “Me”
We are all consumers at some point in our day, of a variety of different products. What makes you choose one brand over another? For me, I will choose a brand that makes the most sense for my life. As a marketer, I need to reach “me” and show you how my brand can seamlessly fit into your life, and how much easier or better your life will then be, due to using, eating or drinking my brand. What questions are being asked by the people you are trying to reach, and how can your product or service answer those questions? Those answers need to be provided in your content and messaging.
3. Where Can I Find My Audience, and in What Format?
Not only does the content I send to you need to be relevant on topic, but it also needs to land in the right spot for “each” person. I am pretty vocal about my love for Twitter. Some people don’t use Twitter and prefer to use Facebook. If the person I’m trying to reach prefers to receive their messaging on one platform, my personal preferences don’t matter – YOURS do. How “you” want to receive content needs to be a marketer’s main focus. Emails have employed this idea since inception– how many times have you signed up for an email subscription and been asked if you prefer messages in HTML or plain text? That is an example of personalization. Today, people consume content in more ways than simply plain text – does your target audience prefer infographics? Blogs? Do they attend Twitter chats for the information they seek?
4. Don't be Creepy
Personalization, when done right, is smooth. You don’t want to personalize too far down, to the point that people feel like their space or privacy is being invaded. You can personalize content and strategies without it seeming like you have been listening in on people’s private conversations. Social listening does not mean stalking!
Undoubtedly, personalized content marketing takes much longer than any marketing of the past. However, what happens to the very best content ever produced in the history of man when it’s not seen? Did it really exist? If you are taking the time and psending the money to put out marketing messaging, it only follows that you want those efforts to pay off.
There is more data to be found and more ways to have real conversations with your target consumer than ever. Understand who those people are, so you can develop relevant content for them that is then delivered at the right time, in the right format and where they are best able to benefit from it.