Denise Stoppleworth – President – IRONCLAD Marketing

Denise Stoppleworth

We established in our first entry that tough economic times call – not for cuts in marketing – but for a more strategic and calculated investment in those marketing dollars. Essentially, to be successful, you must be relevant. Sounds simple enough right? But how do we build relevant marketing. This entry is designed to explore the very first step: Understanding your audience.

You may all say you already understand your audience and know who they are. Check. Accomplished. Move on. But not so fast! Before you stop reading this entry and move on to other things, pause for a moment to consider not the high level picture, but the details. Don’t use a 6 inch brush to paint your market. Drill down and understand not only who they are but also the details about them. Below is a small sampling of the simple questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Who is my audience? Make sure you think in both terms of end users and your channel partners. Too many times I see clients focus on just one or the other. To be successful, you need to be mindful of both and how each affects the other. Success, especially in a tight economy requires both a push and a pull through strategy. So start by defining all your audiences  – and be specific!
  2. What do I know about their demographics? Look at things like the size of their companies, the age range, the other types of products they might buy or sell, regions of the country, gender etc. Anything that might change the way they behave or the message that will resonate with them is a great reason to segment them into another group. Does a larger company – say with a fleet replacement value of more than $5 million react to different messages, or strategies than a company with a fleet value of less than a million? Are certain benefits or challenges particular to a certain geographical region?
  3. Who will influence those market segments? Are they influenced by their competition? If so the bandwagon approach might work. Or, do others within their company influence them? Or perhaps government policies? Make sure your messages consider all the audiences – both decision makers and influencers.
  4. What are their key traits? Now I am not talking about eye color and hair color here. Think long and hard – what is important to them? What need will your product fulfill? For some markets, this list may include things like:
  • Downtime is very costly for them – shutting down a whole line of equipment is not an option.
  • Most concerned with reliability.
  • Often paid on completion bonus so productivity is very critical.

When you determine these key traits, make sure to incorporate them into the message. There is no point knowing the hot buttons if you aren’t going to push them.

This is the first and most critical step to building relevant marketing materials, so take the time to do a thorough job. It’s always a good idea to include several of your salespeople in this brainstorming process so you can make sure you have an accurate picture. I recommend throwing all the ideas up on a white board or tablet and then review and rank them.

Once the audience is well defined, you’re ready to move on to the next step – stepping outside the box.

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