Are You Missing the Target? How to Ensure You’re Doing the Right Thing When It Comes to Advertising

Marketing managers and PR professionals often find themselves in a quandary. Someone in the organization just found out their competitor is using a social media channel that your company isn’t. Maybe they read about a hot new app on the plane or saw a clip about a revolutionary startup that’s “disrupting” email marketing. Whatever the case, your team is now tasked with adding yet another tactic to an already lengthy list of to-dos.

It might even be a good idea. Surprisingly, sometimes executives with little marketing savvy will come up with a great concept. But before you start down the path, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself whether this approach will add anything to your marketing and branding efforts. In order to do that, you’re going to need a thorough understanding of your audience.

Who Are They?

This sounds like a simple question, but it often has a complex answer. If you’re in the B2C business, are you primarily marketing to prospects or current customers? What is their purchase behavior? Where do they live? What makes your product a good choice for them? Why should they choose you over your competitors?

If you’re in the B2B realm, your customer’s role in the organization is also important to consider. Do they interact directly with your product or service, or do they direct others? What business problem(s) do you solve for them?

These questions are just the tip of the iceberg, but the better you understand your customers and those you’d like to convert, the better your marketing efforts will be. Knowing their hopes, dreams and fears allows you to address those in your promotions. You can learn about them in all kinds of ways. Talking to account managers and salespeople, focus groups, surveys, and online research tools like heat maps and eye tracking, among others, can offer some useful insights into your customer base. Don’t be afraid to nitpick, either. The more focused your research, the more relevant and valuable the results.

Where Are They?

Twitter is one of the most prevalent social networking sites, with an estimated 320 million active monthly users. Your company probably has a Twitter account. But do you have a QQ account? Have you even heard of QQ? It’s a chat-based social media platform founded in China with more than 853 million monthly users in more than 80 countries. If you’re just interested in raw numbers, QQ sounds like a great choice. But is it worth your time? Is your target audience active on QQ? And if so, would it be a good fit for your brand?

Instagram and Pinterest are two wildly popular sites with millions of users who have a passion for art, design and photography. But is that the best place for a company that manufactures conveyor belts?

You need a presence in the places your customers are. Stop wasting time and money trying to connect with an audience that isn’t there for you or your product. Don’t dump money in places or channels where your audience is absent. A profound understanding of who your customers are (as well as who they aren’t) will help you make the right choices when it comes to placement, social media channels and scheduling.

Who Are You?

It’s just as important to ask yourself how much can you reasonably handle. The only thing worse than spending precious time updating a social media channel, creating a virtual reality app, or plastering QR codes onto every flat surface is spreading yourself and your team so thin that you can’t keep up with the things that really do connect you with your audience.

Don’t just ask yourself if the latest fad or tactic is a good idea; ask yourself whether your team is able to not only handle but also nurture that effort in the weeks, months and potentially years to come. Would you need to hire one or more employees in order to take it on?

If your answers to those questions are, “No,” “We’re slammed already” or “Are you kidding me?!” then you don’t have to give up. Using an agency or third-party vendor can be a cost-effective way to test the waters before committing to a hiring a new employee. An agency can help you take a test run before adding head count. If it works, you can use the insights and data from that experiment to make a thoughtful, informed argument for adding another person to your team. If it doesn’t work out, that’s OK, too. You’re sure to learn some valuable lessons you can apply to other promotions in the future.