4 Ways to Follow Your Audience, Not Marketing Trends

The key to any successful marketing strategy, nay, any successful business, is a clear understanding of your target audience.

We know this isn’t news to anyone, but we think it’s worth remembering when you’re trying to get more leads, customers and referrals in a fast-paced, trend-driven environment.

Don’t get us wrong. Following marketing, trends can get your company’s name out there and position you as a progressive organisation. However, unless you conscientiously integrate these trends into an established and well-researched marketing strategy, it’s unlikely they will lead to significant growth.

Although new popular platforms, ideas and techniques may attract attention and raise short-term revenue, ultimately, following a trend means following someone else’s lead. Doing this can cause you to stray from your own brand identity and values, and move you further away from your own customers needs.

Remember, customers can see right through phonies, so jumping onto TikTok because it’s ‘what everyone else is doing and not because you have a genuine potential to develop leads on the platform could make your company look foolish and out of touch. It could also dent your reputation and cause customers to lose trust in your organisation.

While recent years have brought marketers a load of new and innovative ways to reach out to and connect with their customers, there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to marketing, and whilst it’s easy to be susceptible to new trends – not least because they appear a dime a dozen in the marketing world – we urge you to begin with your audience, not the trends. Once you know what they need, you’ll have a clearer perspective on which of those novel fads (if any!) could actually play a relevant role in your efforts to boost conversions and improve customer loyalty.

In this blog, we’ll take things back to the essentials of brilliant marketing, dismissing the fads for a deep-dive look at 4 techniques for effectively listening to and learning from your audience, proving that you should be led by your audience, not overhyped marketing trends.

Do a Deep Dive on Your Analytics

When setting out to gain a greater understanding of your audience, begin by reviewing the current data you have. This includes all analyses your company has conducted about your customers since you’ve been in business, such as focus groups and figures you can gather from your marketing outputs, including website traffic, social media data, email open rates and click-throughs. Use this invaluable data to pinpoint where your customers are engaging the most and to inform the rest of your marketing activities.

This gives you a starting point to work from when learning about your audience on a deeper level — you already have some understanding of the real pain points and challenges they experience and what they need from your product or service.

From there, consider the other types of audience-related information you’re missing and need to obtain.

Ask Your Audience

Surveys are an effective way to listen to both current customers and a prospective audience; it’s the most direct way to understand their needs, as it comes directly from the source. Surveys allow you to continually improve and amend your services in line with your customers’ expectations, increasing retention rates.

Try Social Listening

To really get to know your audience and find out what they are saying about your industry and your brand online, try social listening. It gives you a useful context to see where your brand lies amongst competitors and will go a long way to inform your marketing strategy.

Social listening is not about looking at numbers of followers or likes but about how audiences react to your content and brand and reading their mood. Whether it’s positive or negative, knowing when and how your audience reacts to your brand online is crucial to truly understand your customers.

Create Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research. They can help you focus your time on qualified prospects and guide product development to suit the needs of your target customers.

When done well, buyer personas can be really helpful. They can make it easier for you to tailor your content, messaging, and services to meet the specific needs of your target audience.

You can build your buyer personas through research, surveys and interviews. They usually consist of information about a prospects age, job, salary and education – now this information can prove useful. However, the best buyer personas include more detail about what actually matters.

What are the tasks they struggle with day to day?

Where are their frustrations?

What work do they love doing?

The answers to these questions are a lot more helpful to marketers, so try to build them into your buyer personas.

As copywriter Gary Bencivenga said: “Emotions are the fire of human motivation, the combustible force that secretly drives most decisions to buy. When your marketing harnesses those forces correctly, you will generate explosive increases in response.”

Listen to Your Audience, Not Trends

Getting to know your audience isn’t always a simple process, but it’s a crucial one. Conducting this work and doing it often will ensure you know what resonates with your audience to create the content and products, and services that your buyer personas and target customers want to buy.

Having a strong understanding of your potential customers will help you convert them into long-term, paying customers. So, start working through these steps to getting to know your audience better and begin building a customer-led strategy rather than letting trends direct your decision making.

5 Minutes with John Ashton

John Ashton spent his time writing for national newspapers and authoring books before coming up with an idea for a company in 2012 that put his talents to exceptionally good use.

Write Arm is a flexible writing resource for marketers. They provide companies with writers when they need them to create any type of written content – from exquisitely crafted straplines to blogs, scripts and books.

In 2020 he set up The KitchenTable Community, which is a peer-to-peer support community and marketplace for the owners and would-be owners of small creative agencies.

We spoke to John Ashton to find out more about the company, and to get his top tips on brilliant copywriting.

Hi John, thanks for chatting with Colour Me Social! What inspired you to start Write Arm?

I started the company in 2012 – I was thinking at the time, what’s my next career move? I thought about becoming a freelance writer again and I realised I wanted to build something bigger and flexible and more of the moment.

I hadn’t worked in the marketing world before then, so I knew nothing of it. I just took the plunge, with no idea whether it would float or not, but it did – much to my amazement and delight!

We started with just a small handful of writers; more and more have found us along the way, and we go out and find writers too – we’ve got scores of them now!

How do you work with businesses?

We do everything with the written word – broadly it breaks down into two types: on the one hand you’ve got content marketing such as articles, whitepapers, case studies, e-books; the other side is creative copywriting, things like static web copy, brochures and email sequences – anything that has a more overt marketing function than content marketing.

What type of businesses do you work with?

Anything from a small SME to multinational giants – we’ll work with any sizes of business, but we prefer to work with those with a marketing department. We work in numerous sectors; the ones that have been particularly strong for us have been tech, financial services and HR/recruitment.

What’s the motivation for businesses to come to you?

It’s very often the case that they just don’t have the resources internally. We work on an ad hoc basis, we don’t tend to charge retainers, which works for us because the clients don’t need us all the time. They often have people in-house who do some of the writing, but then they just get swamped.

What would you say are the main challenges you see your clients facing when it comes to content and copywriting?

The chief challenge is finding the right person to do the work. There are millions of freelancers out there but actually sourcing them and managing them is the real challenge. We’ve got where we are today by answering that need, by solving that problem.

How has your business changed in the Covid-era?

Well, we’ve always been remote. That’s the beauty of Write Arm. The staff work remotely, as do I, and all the writers work remotely. So we were geared up for it.

At the start COVID, everything went quiet for a week, but then it got very, very busy, and we’ve never been busier. I think it’s largely a legacy of working in tech – so many tech niches are buoyant at the moment, and we’re a beneficiary of that.

What’s your top tip for brilliant copywriting?

Great copywriting has to spell out the benefits of a product or service. Or if it’s not a product or service, then drive the message in a way that appeals to the heart, the head, and do so in as few words as possible.

Finally, what advice would you offer to small business owners to help them tell their story?

Invest in copy – it can make all the difference.