If you’ve been following the popular Hunger Games films (or books) you know that toward the end of the series, Peeta, who has been tortured and brainwashed, has trouble distinguishing between reality and the artificial memories that have been implanted in his mind. He repeatedly asks his colleagues: “Real or not real?”
That’s actually a great question for you as a marketer to ask about your prospects when preparing marketing messages—whether those messages are delivered by direct mail, email, or online. Is the audience you’re talking to real or not real?
Sometimes marketers prepare, design, and deliver messages for an audience that they think is real—when in fact, the people they are actually talking to are quite different. Here’s an example of how getting that wrong can really hurt your response.
When you’re engaged in direct mail (or any form of marketing for that matter), you have to begin by trying to clearly define your target audience. Old marketing methods tended to focus on demographic information such as age, gender, income, location, and past purchases.
Today, it’s more important to gather information about interests, issues, problems that need to be solved, and quesitons that need to be answered. What you’re really trying to do is put together a profile or persona of what your ideal client looks like. You won’t be able to answer all of those questions up front. But you have to make an educated guess as to who your target audience really is.
You can talk to existing clients and customers and find out some of the answers. It takes some time, but generally people are pretty open about what they really want if you ask them—especially if you make it clear that you’re trying to serve them better. Don’t ask personal questions that have no impact on how you’ll serve them. Do ask your clients about what it is they want from you.
Gathering this kind of information is an ongoing process. As you continue to engage with your clients and prospects your understanding of who they are and what they’re after will be more clearly defined. Your audience will be more real to you. Instead of guessing at what will appeal to them, your marketing messages will be a response to what you know they want.