A picture of your audience

How well do you know your customers and prospects? One of the biggest pitfalls in technical business marketing is to guess too much. You might think you know more than you do because they may be a fairly niche bunch, or you may have had direct sales experience with enough to make you believe you can extrapolate your knowledge to the whole potential market. I doubt that any of us really know our market as well as we ought to though.

What difficulties does your audience face? This is a straightforward question really, because whatever problems your products and services address define your market in the first place. However, do they know these problems can be addressed? Are they actively looking for what you can offer? This is something you need to find out, to establish the fundamental message in your marketing.

If they’re aware that there’s something out there that can make their professional lives better, where do they find out what’s available? It’s a constant surprise to me how many marketing professionals have never asked their customers and prospects what magazines they read, what trade shows they attend or whether they just look online now.

Who do they trust? Is it a local, more accountable supplier, or do they prefer ‘big name’ comfort? This sort of thing is far less easy to generalise, but again, a bit of research can provide some unexpected results. And what don’t they like? Is it hands-off suppliers who try to do everything online, or conversely, those with annoying sales reps? Is it inefficient service, or mystery pricing?

There are many questions which can be asked to build a picture of your audience, but if you don’t ask the questions, you’ll never really know who you’re talking to.