This is the one question you absolutely cannot get away with not asking: it’s the crack you can never paper over. You need to know who you’re selling to, in order to sell to them effectively. This is true if you work in marketing, or advertising by the very definition of those roles. But it’s also true if you work in design, or in customer service (understanding the people you’re talking to means communicating with them better) or especially if you’re a CEO. If you’re in charge of a company you’re selling it constantly, not just products to customers, but the company as a whole to investors, to shareholders, to the entire marketplace.
If you don’t know who you’re trying to sell to, you cannot sell effectively, so today we’re taking a look at the thorny problem of knowing your audience.
A Deeper Understanding
It’s easy to gather data if you know where to look. A couple of questions in an omnibus survey, a short contract for a market research company, and you’ll suddenly find yourself in possession of a demographic breakdown of your market.
It’s tempting, from there, to generalise – one of the main flaws in human thinking is a tendency to fixate on the first piece of information you hear about a subject and give it undue prominence. So, if you see that a slim majority of your market is over the age of 60, it’s a battle to stop yourself characterising your every customer as ‘older’. This might help you reach that significant chunk of your customers, but it sells the rest short, and leaves your marketing fatally compromised. Similarly, if you’re a founder looking for funding, assuming you’re selling your ideas to bullish young investors will push anyway anyone with a more considered approach.
The answer is to begin to understand the principle of market segmentation: looking at your market not as a single bloc of humanity, but as a collection of different groups, as segments.
Splitting your market into segments helps you see it better. You understand that collection of consumers in their 60s as a chunk of your potential market, but you can also see the other groups you also need to be reaching out to.
Seeing the full spread of what’s on offer allows you to make informed decisions about your products and marketing, deciding who it’s a priority to attract, and which groups won’t bring you enough of a return. With the information at hand, your decisions can drive you towards success.