The first thing to look at when discussing the idea of a target audience is that marketers target people by different criteria: gender, age, location, education, marital status, professional status, financial status and other social criteria. Of course, all of these things matter. But imagine for a moment that you see the following announcement: scientists have collected statistics for foot sizes of all living people, identified an average size and, based on this data, designed a new pair of sneakers in the “perfect” size for earthlings of the 21st century. Will these ‘one size fits all’ sneakers really fit everyone?
The same goes for online marketing. Industries exist where you can hardly target your audience, even using all the above mentioned social criteria. For example, a travel company. Nowadays, anyone can travel: whether they are a top manager at a big company making big revenue, or an aircraft plant worker, or a mother with her six month old baby. And there are a lot of industries which are in this situation.
We can say a lot more – concerning most industries, a formal approach to targeting, the identification of social features accustomed to marketing, and working within these frames is a deliberate restriction of self-empowerment.
And here’s why.
You have real world examples– your current customers, and by studying them you can develop a typical customer persona.
There is also a potential – a huge audience, which is not yet connected with you in any way. These people haven’t thought about buying your product or even learning about it. However, lots of them can potentially become your customers – not right now, but sometime in the distant future.
Thinking of this audience as a non-target and ignoring it is a common mistake made by many marketers. That’s because considering this audience means breaking established rules – rules that tell us to create content exactly for our target audience.
You have to break these rules.
If you are following the rules, which means that you are only working with an audience which is one step away from buying, then you are creating content that answers people’s questions. Their questions are always concrete, and if you’ll imagine the ‘visitor’ to ‘customer’ conversion process as a funnel, then their concrete questions are very close to its narrow end – a place where people are almost ready to make a purchase.
But if you keep only working at this part of the funnel, then you will grow slowly, because you are putting in the minimum effort at the funnel’s top edge, and don’t pay attention at all to those who stay out of it.
Because you are not trying to catch them to involve them in your funnel, drag them nearer to the middle, then nearer to the narrow edge, and then gradually lead them to the goal. While the right goal for content marketers is to turn a user, who is indifferent to your brand, to a loyal customer.
Don’t neglect working with those who are very distant, not just a few steps away, from your goal. Working in this direction gives you endless growth opportunities. Of course, I have to admit that attracting a wide audience and gradually working to gain them is hard and takes a long time.
Moreover, your total conversion rate significantly decreases. But nobody is going to argue the fact that a 3% conversion rate of 5000 visitors is better than 10% at 500 visitors. That’s why it’s more perspective to attract and involve in you conversion scenario as many people as possible instead of focusing on optimising your conversion rate by content, which is only useful for those in the category of “almost customers”.
It’s not “Who are they now?”. It’s “Who could become them in the future?”
Don’t ask yourself just one question: “Who are my potential customers?”. You should also ask yourself: “Who could become my potential customers in the future?”. For example, take an online broker, whose business is focused on wealthy people, who are well informed about the current state of financial markets and have good knowledge of using financial tools (most online broker customers meet these criteria). Another potential audience is people who have no idea about what trading is, but who have considered trading from time to time. Perhaps, they haven’t even thought about it, but will start thinking about it after reading an article which strikes the point. Of course, from the point of view of business, the online broker is not very interested in such potential or future customers – online brokers are much more interested in customers with dramatically different income.
So, what a broker should do?
A broker should spend their time on those who are “just showing interest, but not ready yet” for free, consultancy “in vain”, because a potential customer may decide to try trading six months, a year or even six years after first having the idea to do so and will bring the broker future profit. Perhaps, they’ll never engage in trading at all.
If they do engage and slowly become competent, then the brokerages customer base will expand. Potential future customers are often the most numerous group or target market for a successful business. They can help to expand a business's future customer base. You can draw these people in by working at the top of your sales funnel or even completely outside it.
Create educational content
The desire to buy a product, go travelling or become a trader is usually an impulse or conscious desire but this doesn’t alway materialise. We examine this situation when we are thinking about making out desires come true. We look at our wealth, we consult with our families and loved ones, we estimate whether we know enough about what we want.
This is what you must pay attention to:
You should work with people when such ideas and aspirations are born, at the stage when they don’t know exactly whether they really want something. Create educational content to provide information about these very things. If a person wants to go travelling, but is not sure yet whether it’s possible or not, they won’t start searching for a hotel and estimating where booking is cheaper here and now. First of all, they’ll start searching for information concerning the best season to travel to a country they like, what the weather will be, which activities can be found there (skiing? diving? etc), which tours are most interesting, what currency to buy, how to act in shops, restaurants, what they should do to not violate traditions and customs, and so on. Only after getting answers to such “basic” questions do they go to the next stage – inside a sales funnel, to the narrow edge, to more concrete questions, which means one stop closer to become your customer.