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Remember: You Are Not The Target Audience

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One key component of any marketing program is determining a target audience. That is, once you’ve developed a message, who do you want consuming it?

Ask yourself: Who should care? And who will care? How am I going to create compelling content that attracts the people my business can best serve?

If you’re representing a tech startup in Silicon Valley, perhaps your target audience is recent Stanford graduates looking for a job. If you’re promoting a skiing and snowboarding conference in Boston, then your target audience is most likely the avid skiers and snowboarders in the New England area. For sporting goods companies in New England, you want to be reaching athletes in the region but also their family and friends — those who could make purchases on their behalf.

It may seem like common sense, but your target audience is just as important as the message itself, and the channels by which you’re communicating it. Picking the right audience can turn an otherwise average PR campaign into a resounding success. Choosing the wrong audience, however, can derail even the best-laid talking points. Targeting the right demographic can be invaluable.

One of the most common mistakes I see people make when identifying a target audience is assuming that they represent the demographic. Just because you don’t use Facebook or Twitter, for example, does not mean that your target audience doesn’t. I often advise baby boomers who aren’t active on social media and yet are trying to reach Americans who use it every day. And I tell them: Your blind spot isn’t necessarily the average American’s.

My mom and I have a joke because as an 86-year-old, she doesn’t care for watching 20-somethings with bare midriffs shaking their bottoms on television. When she complains and asks, “How could anyone watch this stuff?” I respond, “Ma, you are not the target audience.” I’ve said this to her so many times that she hears me start saying that line, and we end up saying it in unison.

Take Instagram, one of the most popular platforms for photo and video sharing. Instagram has 1 billion users around the world. Just under 3% of Instagram users are in the 55- to 64-year-old age group, although many in that age group are probably professional decision makers — from small business CEOs to nonprofit executives. Users under the age of 35, on the other hand, make up more than 70% of the platform’s users.

Therefore, if you’re looking to target that age group with a PR or advertising campaign, Instagram can be a powerful tool — regardless of your own social media preferences. Even if you don’t post travel photos and share concert videos on Instagram, it doesn’t take away from the power of Instagram as a way to communicate your message to others.

Identifying the right demographic requires a holistic view of the general population. Think beyond yourself. From college students and CEOs to football dads and soccer moms, the United States is home to more than 300 million people of different ages, colors and creeds. We truly live in a melting pot. Also, just because someone is female, 40 years old and likes shopping does not mean that she is the same as another person the same age.

One 40-year-old might like shopping at Cabela’s for hunting supplies, and the other might like going to the makeup counter at Nordstrom. So it’s important to drill down and know your audience. I sometimes say that marketing is like marriage. You need to know your partner so well that you can anticipate their every move and preference.

Not everyone is like you. Not everyone consumes content like you do or gravitates to the same messages as you. What you find unappealing someone else may find incredibly tasteful.

Because there are so many people in the United States (and globally), picking the right target audience isn’t always easy. But therein lies a golden opportunity — an opportunity to reach consumers you didn’t even consider at first.

That’s what makes marketing fun (at least for me). You have an opportunity to reach all sorts of people by learning more about their tendencies and unique interests. The sheer size of the population forces you to learn.

Stepping outside of yourself is valuable in many aspects of life, but especially in terms of communication. Imagine how boring the world would be if you had to send messages only to people like you.

Fortunately, there’s much, much more to the world than you, my 86-year-old mom or me. Remember that, and remember to choose your target audience accordingly.

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

Nancy Marshall, The PR Maven(R), CEO & Founder, Marshall Communications, creating & implementing marketing/PR/personal branding strategies.

Source: Remember: You Are Not The Target Audience

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How to Refocus Your Strategy and Reenergize Your Team – Stanley Meytin

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A person’s passion is the sincerest definition of who they are. Passion can manifest itself in a hobby, an aspiration, or if you’re really lucky, a career. Take two people, Joe and Jane, as an example. Joe has a passion outside of his career. He devotes a lot of his free time to this passion and naturally speaks about it to his peers.

When his peers think of him they probably define him as “person passionate about X.” Now take Jane, one of the lucky few who has made a career out of her passion. She devotes twice the amount of time, twice the amount of energy and twice the amount of conversation to her passion. How do you think her peers define her?

If you’ve read Simon Sinek’s bestseller Start With Why, then Jane will remind you of Herb Kelleher, co-founder of Southwest Airlines, or Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc. Joe will remind you of the Wright Brothers. Each of these individuals built empires by undyingly following their passion. Sure, you can claim that these individuals are used as examples because of winner’s bias. But they succeeded because not only were they extremely passionate. They succeeded because they were able to clearly communicate their visions.

I consider myself extremely lucky. Like Jane, I’ve built a career out of my passion. When I first launched my film production company, my team asked the same questions regarding our clients that our competition was asking:

  • What is this client doing that’s different?
  • What do they bring to the table?
  • What problems are they solving for their customers?

While these questions helped us understand our clients, we realized they weren’t getting to the core of what defined them. We were part of the same old convention of business. We were focusing on what our clients were doing and not why they were doing it in the first place. Once we realized this, we began asking ourselves different questions:

  • How can we harness the passion that defines the client’s company to create a story?
  • Are their employees inspired by that passion?
  • Does the story align with their core values?
  • How can we align the story with the company’s brand mission?
  • How is that story going to connect with their audience?
  • How are we going to make the story authentic and engaging?

The biggest takeaway, however, didn’t come in the form of one of our clients’ videos going viral. It came in-house. 2016 was the first year we set a quantitative benchmark for the number of videos we wanted to produce. Not only did we not hit the benchmark, but with all the energy we put into hitting a quota we lost focus on creating a better product. We produced more videos, but they were watered down compared to previous years. We lost our own purpose.

We got rid of all quantity benchmarks in 2017 and as a team, we held a meeting to refocus. In this meeting, we asked ourselves the same questions that we asked our clients. We ended the meeting with a mission to create a video channel to tell impactful and authentic stories that inspire others.

That channel has been a remarkably accurate reflection of the meeting where it was first conceptualized. We’re now using the same techniques that helped us define our purpose in our core business for our corporate clients. Not only has it righted our ship and produced success but it has also provided us with an entirely new set of questions to ask our clients:

  • Is their organization helping others?
  • Is their mission connecting with others?
  • Are their customers genuinely understanding their mission?
  • Are employees buying into their mission, do they believe their roles play an important part in promoting the mission?
  • Are they building a community?
  • Are they staying true to their core values and the values of their customers and employees?

The beauty of these questions is that you can propose them to your clients, to your employees and even to yourself. They’re not specific to video production or any industry for that matter. If you already have the answers, that’s incredible. If not, then use them to refocus your strategy or reenergize your team.

Just swap “their” and “they” for “your” and “you.” Connecting to people on a deeper level, nurturing a human connection, evoking emotion and inspiring are key ingredients to building loyalty and bringing the best out in people.

Note, however, that not all ingredients are created equal. Like apples grown on two separate farms, the ingredients that I listed — those that were seeded and cared for with passion — will always taste better.

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Hashtagging For Results: The Power Behind That Pound Sign – Courtney Myers

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It’s hard to believe, but the hashtag is now officially more than a decade old. That means there’s an entire generation of youngsters on Twitter who never knew a world without it, though most marketers certainly do. Since its inception in 2007, the hashtag (or pound symbol, for traditionalists) has taken off as a digital marketing mainstay — and for good reason.

It allows users to quickly join or initiate a conversation by tapping into a shared group consensus. Now, you’re no longer just casually grabbing a taco on the second day of the week. You’re out for #brunch on #TacoTuesday, along with thousands of like-minded individuals who share your same interests.

In a world where so many flash-in-the-pan tactics have failed, why has the hashtag remained a constant? It has less to do with the symbol itself and more to do with the sense of community it immediately implies. Take the #MeToo movement for example, and consider how many people were connected across the globe who otherwise wouldn’t have found each other had it not been for that simple tag.

The digital marketing industry as a whole can be a complex and overwhelming sphere to live in, and as such, something as unfussy and straightforward as the hashtag offers a breath of relief, not to mention extreme usability.

Yet, there’s a difference between hashtagging (yes, it’s a verb, too) strategically and over-using the technique. A pointed message can quickly become lost in translation if #every #single #word is underscored with the symbol. When utilized correctly, however, it can make all the difference in an effective social media marketing strategy and one that fails to deliver. Here are a few pointers for how to get it right.

1. Don’t forget to tag locally

Local advertising is one of the most powerful tools in your outreach arsenal. In fact, local advertising revenues bring in more than $145 million annually, with traffic derived from customers right within your own backyard. While it’s true that digital marketing affords us the opportunity to reach a wider geographic audience than ever before, don’t discount the power of selling to your own community. You’ll likely find followers who are passionate about supporting a local business and those types of local supporters are invaluable to growing your brand reputation.

Leverage local hashtags in your tweets, posts, and pins to grow community awareness and add your voice to the conversation. Whenever possible, you can also organically hashtag your location to remind web visitors where you’re located and make it easier for local shoppers to find you.

2. Consider hashtagging in Instagram comments

Especially on Instagram, it can be easy to lose your message amid the thousands of other businesses who are also tagging everything and anyone in their posts. Stand out for all the right reasons by skipping hashtags altogether on occasion and instead, adding them in a comment on your post immediately afterward. You’ll still rank for the hashtags, but your post won’t look the least bit spammy.

Research reveals that Instagram posts with 11 or more hashtags earn around 80% more interactions compared to those with only two. Therefore, don’t eschew tagging altogether on this platform, but be a little more selective and strategic about how you display them.

3. Avoid generic and broad hashtags

Sure, everyone can hashtag #selfie, but there are currently more than 338 million people who had the same idea on Instagram. You may show up in the top of recent posts, but you’ll quickly move down the line as others replace you. Instead, focus on industry niche hashtags that people who are truly interested in your products and services will search for. This strategy works for virtually every industry, from retail to Food and Beverage and myriad sectors in between.

Restaurant owners can tag their individual menu items; financial services providers can use tags to help customers compare rates; small business owners can tag their merchants and vendors when a new shipment comes in. This way, there is less competition and you’ll have a greater chance to showcase your posts. Do a quick audit of what other companies in your sphere are tagging, as well as what your target audience is searching for, and tailor your hashtagging strategy accordingly.

To make sure the hashtags you’re using are relevant, it’s helpful to analyze their performance to see how much traffic they help drive to your site. An effective hashtag isn’t just one that includes you in an industry community. It’s one that draws web visitors in and encourages them to explore your product offering further, eventually leading them down the path to purchase. You could have the most creative and carefully curated tags in the world, but if they aren’t helping you generate a larger following and building your bottom line, it’s time to rethink them.

Hashtag Your Way to Success

In today’s Digital Age, it can be easy to assume that any attention online is good attention. After all, if people are talking about you, that’s good brand buzz, right? Well, yes and no. Standing out and getting noticed should be an aim, but not at the expense of your business integrity and reputation. Hashtagging sporadically or without intention can render your efforts ineffective or even detrimental to your brand. The next time you go to press that pound sign, make sure you’re ready to add that tag to your voice and associate your name with that dialogue. Then, you can press “post” with confidence.

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How to Lower Business Costs Using VOIP Technology

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If you are looking for a way to lower your business costs it may be worthwhile to consider how much you may be able to save if you make the switch from standard telephone systems to VOIP service.

For many people they may have heard the term VOIP but may be unaware of what it means and how it can benefit them. Here is what you, and they, need to know

What is VOIP?

VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. It sends the packets of digital information that make up what you are saying in your call through the Internet instead of through traditional phone lines.

Not only does it make it possible for a company to lower your rates there are many different additional functions that can be possible using VOIP technology. A VOIP setup may allow you to send and receive messages that would otherwise not be possible under a standard telephone set up.

How can VOIP save your business Money?

Employing Voip can save you money in a number of Ways:

  • Saving on Line Fees

There are several different ways that using a VOIP system can save you money. The first is that they can often allow users to get rid of using a cellular phone and a desk phone. Because calls can be sent to a cell phone quite easily with VOIP there may not be the need to use both of these communications devices. Because you are not paying for both lines your monthly billswill automatically go down.

  • Saving on call charges

Also there is the saving on your phone calls using VOIP. The rates for using VOIP are normally substantially cheaper than standard fixed telephone providers. You can obtain price packages that can include all local, national and even international calls for a fraction of the price.

Even without a price  package sometimes these national & international calls can be for free as they avoid using the normal phone network where the charges are incurred.

  • Saving on infrastructure costs

Another reason is that the cost of VOIP service is much lower than comparable services from a standard telecommunications provider. If you are just starting up you will not need to add the same wiring and infrastructure that can increase start up costs to the point where some companies are unable to afford them.

Part of the savings comes from the fact that there is no longer a need to establish wiring for data and telephone.

  • How it can Increase your Productivity

Using VOIP for your business can also increase your productivity. Not only can you access your telephone calls from your computer whether you are in the office or not you can also access things such as phone messages and faxes that you may receive at the same time as you are accessing your email.

This means that regardless of whether you are actually in the office or not you will be able to continue to deal with business decisions quickly and effectively. There are many reasons to choose VOIP for your business. Choosing the right provider is only the first step in getting the flexible and affordable telecommunications system that your business needs.

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