I recently got invited to work on a great project with lots of potential. I sent out an invoice and immediately after it got paid, I got down to work.

The first thing I did was a quick social media teardown. I always do that at the beginning, before I get totally entangled with the project. I need to be able to look at clients’ social media communication from a stranger’s perspective. Someone who knows nothing or very little about the project.

The teardown results were pretty usual, something I’m totally used to:

  • Client lacked a common line in their communication; they were all over the place.
  • Instead of focusing on the audience and giving them value, they focused on themselves and were overly promotional.
  • Photos weren’t of right dimensions.
  • They violated some Facebook’s policies, and that lowered their Page Ranking.
  • I could go on, but you get it.

But … something was off. More than ever before.

Having a good product is just one piece of the puzzle …

The client was an e-commerce business, selling physical goods. They had all the resources for having an extraordinary online business, and their product was excellent! But they were not reaching good results (or any results for that matter) regarding online sales with their digital marketing. It wasn’t the product’s or webpage’s fault. They knew something was off, but they couldn’t point to the reason behind it.

I knew it immediately after asking some painful questions. You see, having a good product is just one piece of the puzzle. It doesn’t guarantee sales. My client thought they have everything they need for growing their business so their approach to marketing was naturally reckless.

They jumped right in. And that was the problem. Marketing isn’t just creating a Facebook Page, doing some fancy ads and other fun things. The real work should start waaaaaaay before that.

This is what usually happens

You start a new project, or you create a new product. Either way, you’re totally hyped. I mean, you don’t even need coffee, you’re excited to see this fly.

You get everything ready. The webpage, the copy, the payment system and soon realise that d00h, you gotta do some marketing too, right? That’s expected of you.

You’re excited. You create a Facebook Page, design a header, change the profile image, write some description and publish some posts. You’re officially doing marketing. This is so easy!

Fast forward two months …

This Facebook thing is a hoax. Facebook marketing is shit. It doesn’t work. Increasing sales with Facebook? Pffft, impossible! They’re were lying to me!

You publish less and less posts on Facebook and your FB page slowly dies. You dust off your shoulders, promise yourself you’re never going to make that mistake again and move on.

Sounds familiar?

This is what I have to deal with practically every day. But I’m going to let you in on a secret, and you’re going to start doing things differently. From today on you’ll be working smarter and because of that, you’ll finally start seeing some tangible results with your social media efforts. Increased sales for at least 20%, traffic growth, increasing your audience for 35%, you name it. These are all results my clients achieved. It is possible with social media if you follow this rule.

So here’s the thing.

It all starts with an audience.

Let’s take a step back and get back to the story of my client.

You know what the reason for their failure was?

The audience. Or better said — lack of focus when it came to the audience.

Instead of speaking to one hyper-focused audience they know everything about, they were speaking to two entirely different audiences. When users of each audience came to their Facebook page, they were confused. “Is this even for me?” And both left.

An excellent social media strategy or any marketing strategy starts with a defined audience. “Everyone” is not your audience. You can’t speak to everyone. Speaking to everyone = Speaking to nobody.

Your audience has to be a specific group of people with distinct characteristics. You gotta talk to them in their ‘language’. You gotta know their problems, struggles and things they are looking for.

You see, marketing can’t save a bad product. And it can’t save a badly defined audience.

Marketing is nothing more than a cherry on the top. But that cherry plays a massive role, only if the base is delicious as well. If it’s not, even cherry doesn’t help.

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OK, but how can you avoid making the same mistake my client made?

This is your current thought process when you hear the word marketing:

Notes - 10

With this approach, the audience comes in after this. But this is the exact opposite of what it should be.

This is the thought process you’re going for:

Notes - 11

Your marketing should evolve around your audience and not the other way around.

This is how your message looks like if you take the first approach, when you grow your audience around your marketing:

Notes - 12

What a mess.

And this is how it looks if you evolve your marketing around your target audience:

Notes - 13

My client first created a product with a specific audience in mind and then failed to communicate that. They set up a Facebook page and an Instagram profile and started publishing posts with no audience in mind. “We’re just going to jam and see what happens.” Nothing happened.

What they should have done after defining their audience is audience research. Here’s how you can do that yourself:

  • Contact some of your customers and get to know them:
    • What are their unique characteristics?
    • What are their habits?
    • What are their biggest struggles? What’s their expensive problem?
    • Why did they choose you instead of your competition?
    • What are they most satisfied with?
    • What are they the least satisfied with?
    • Would they recommend you to others? Who? Why?
    • etc.
  • Contact some of your potential customers and get to know them:
    • What are their unique characteristics?
    • What are their habits?
    • What information are they searching for?
    • Why are they thinking about buying your or your competition’s product/service?
    • What is holding them back from buying your product/service?
    • etc.

Then build your communication on top of that.

Take the answers about their biggest struggles and communicate how you understand that. Be helpful, help them solve those struggles with short tips and advice you post on your social media. See which information are they looking for and be the person or a company who provides that information for them. Dive into the answers on what’s holding them back from buying and diminish those doubts with some Facebook posts.

It’s not rocket science. It’s just listening and communicating what other say to you.

Next steps

So just to wrap things up — if you don’t want to end up like the consulting client mentioned before, this is the easy 3-step process you should follow the next time around when you’re creating (or modifying) your marketing strategy:

  1. Define your target audience (keep in mind: your audience is not ‘everyone’!);
  2. Contact your target audience (current and potential clients/customers) and get to know them;
  3. Take the answers and create a marketing strategy around them.

Question time

Did you find yourself making the same mistakes my client did? What’s one small step you will take today towards this? I’d love to hear your thoughts and help you out!

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  • Mauro Chojrin

    I agree with your take. Just the other day I was telling a friend of mine if I were to start all over, I’d lock myself up until I figured out who my target audience is, so much has changed for me since I got a concrete answer to that question that it’s amazing. Which brings me to what I really wanted to say 😛: I thought you were talking about having an Audience of your own to start (a pool of followers if you will), and not a “target” audience a mind. Human languages and their ambiguities can be a real pain sometimes..

    Another little bit about how to define your target audience is picking people for whom what you sell is vital over others who simply might have a slight benefit from working with you. If you work as a consultant of any kind, the temptation to define your audience as “everyone” is big. It helped me to ask myself the follow-up question “who among everyone could find my service indispensable”.

    Hope this helps someone out there.

    Cheers

    • Mojca Marš

      We all started in a similar way — without really knowing the audience, because we had only one thing in mind: “When can I start doing more fun stuff?” But the most important thing is we now know what it takes to build a successful business with solid foundations.

      The follow-up question you just wrote makes a lot of sense! Thank you for sharing, keep in touch!

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