The Most Important Marketing Effort that Many Companies Never Do

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by Rebecca MacLeod, B2Launch Founder & Chief Consultant

Your company is great. You have amazing services and products, and you can’t wait to tell the world about it all! You’ve done your market research, you’ve identified your target market, your products are defined (though maybe not yet on market) and now it’s time to start telling people about it.

At this point, you’re probably thinking about how to package your product or service. You may create some descriptions of your offering, then begin thinking about how you’ll get all this terrific information out to the world.

Or, perhaps you’re still raising funds, so you are packaging everything into a tidy bundle to tell potential investors and customers why your product/service is so great. Look, you have the data to prove it!

This is all good stuff. These are critical foundational efforts to success. But the one thing missing at this point is having a deep understanding of your audience. I don’t mean titles, and I don’t mean target market. What I mean is – who are the people you want to talk to? What do they care about, and what makes them tick?

Understand Your Audience for Real Relationship & Conversation

Old school marketing is about selling your product or service. Today’s marketing is about developing a relationship and having a conversation with your audience.

The advent of social media, blogging and the myriad channels available for direct communication with our audiences means that we can’t simply sit back and tell people about our offerings. We have to understand and show them why it’s relevant to them. People choose things to view based on their interests, and relevancy to what they care about. You can’t just buy an ad evangelizing your product or service, and expect that your audience will come your way.

Let’s reframe it this way: Who do you want to have a conversation with?

Audience Personas: the Key to Long-term Engagement

In working with numerous organizations over the last decade, I have found that robust audience personas (or profiles) have been a universal missing piece. Some companies think they’ve identified their personas, but when I look at a deeper level, there’s usually not much there beyond a brief description for the sales team to use to categorize a prospect.

The personas I work with companies to develop become a critical tool for all future marketing and business development programs. They are real-life profiles of the individuals you want to reach, based on what you know about these people. They become the benchmark that all information you produce can be graded against. If what you’re creating and putting out in the world – be it website copy, product/service collateral, social media campaigns, blog content and even PR – doesn’t resonate with those audiences, it’s simply not going to be as impactful.

I have been struck time and time again by how robust personas can have a transformational impact on marketing efforts. Messaging and positioning begin to flow freely, and gaining internal alignment with executive teams on making critical marketing decisions start to happen with ease. From here, we also have all the information we need to know exactly how to reach our audience from the moment they land on the Homepage of our website, to the moment the business development team is able to have a conversation with them.

This is because we understand our audience now on a deep level. And, if you’ve done it right, every stakeholder within the company who has insight into these people will have provided input, meaning that future interactions will also have impact.

We’re All Human After All

In launching and marketing a company or product, it’s so easy to get excited about your offering and to forget the people on the other side of that deal. At a base level, each of us are human beings, not just customers or investors.

So, who are the people you want to know about your company? Once you have really good personas, it becomes easy to begin having a conversation with your audiences, whether they are investors, potential customers, future employees, regulatory bodies or partners.

Developing Your Unique Audience Personas

Audience personas should be created at the earliest stage possible, and the great news is...it’s never too late! Over the years, I have worked with organizations of all types to uncover their personas and have honed the process with each effort. I've learned a lot from the teams I've collaborated with, and have seen that the need is universal, whether you're a pre-revenue entity, an established business, or a non-profit – and personas are necessary whether your organization is B2B or B2C focused. 

If you're interested in further reading on the methodology of audience-driven marketing, I recommend David Meerman Scott's the New Rules of Marketing and PR.

And if you're ready to really understand your audiences and transform your marketing efforts, I would love to help!