Effective advertising aims tailored messages to clearly identified market segments, or target audiences. The act of aiming obviously depends on knowing where to point. Consequently, the best way to create relevant content is by starting with a concise definition of your target audience — knowing where to point. Acquiring insights into their characteristics and buying motivations equips you with the knowledge to develop messages that resonate with that target audience.
Target Audience Profile
Defining your target audience requires specifics. You need a composite picture of your target audience that includes its persona as evidenced by its demographic profile and its psychographic profile as evidenced by its attitudes, opinions, values, aspirations and lifestyles. Use whatever demographic attributes you believe are most relevant for your profiling purposes. Age, sex and education attainment might be very important. But, religion, ethnicity and home ownership may be unimportant. Take care that your demographic variables are germane to an actionable target audience profile. By going through this exercise, you may discover that you have multiple target audiences separated by age group, for example, which require different advertising content.
Probe for Understanding
Much of your demographic data can be obtained from secondary sources such as census data or from an inexpensive survey of customers and prospects. Psychographic characteristics are not that easily attainable, unfortunately. You may have to gather this information by using focus groups or a more formalized survey that structures probing questions about emotions, perceptions and buying behavior without being offensive. Ultimately, you want to arrive an understanding of what triggers the buying decision and an expression of the key benefit that’s associated with your business, which aligns with that buying-decision trigger. This is the proprietary benefit that separates you from your competition.
The Advertising Goal
Having completed the upfront work of developing a composite picture of your target market, you’re now prepared to address the question of what you want the advertising to accomplish in view of the information acquired in defining your target. Your advertising goal is an expression of moving the target audience’s perception and attitude about your business, product or service from its current position to where you want it to be. The change typically translates into the wanted change in audience usage of your product or service. The goal of your advertising could be a change from a negative to a positive or a change from unknown because you’re a new entity to a positive attitude.
You effect change in the existing perception and attitude about your business based on a unique user benefit that drives buying decisions, which your target associates with your business, product or service. The user benefit must be relevant, compelling and believable based on what you learned about buying-decision triggers in developing the target audience psychographic profile. The benefit is the centerpiece of your advertising content that persuades your audience to make a purchase. You can use rational persuasion with a benefit that appeals to logic or an emotional benefit that appeals to instinct. Many marketers encourage using both, because shoppers tend to buy based on instinct and justify their purchase based on logic. What’s important is that the benefits resonate with your target audience.