In 2009, Parker wrote a post titled "Know Your Audience". In 2010 it is just as, if not more, important. For the last few months I've been working on proposals and recommendation decks for my different accounts; no client or program is ever the same, but no matter what I am working on, I can't begin to get to the heart of the recommendation without taking a good hard look at the audience. This means more than just slotting them into easily identifiable title segments: managers are X, VPs are Y, and so on and so forth. When you're building the skeleton of any proposal, consider asking the following questions about your audience:
1. What are their goals and objectives? What are their needs? By segmenting your audience by their needs, instead of their title, you are speaking directly to their pain points. You will end up with marketing collateral (be it digital or otherwise) that helps them find answers to their problems quickly. For example, a lot of companies now include "I Want To" sections on their websites.
2. How does your product or service fit with their goals? Now that you've identified what you believe to be your audience's needs and objectives, you can tailor your marketing efforts toward them. Ask yourself: what do I have to offer that would solve that problem? Then fit the answer into place.
3. Where do they go for their information? Before spending too much money or effort on any particular channel, spend some time listening and doing some minor engagement on a variety of channels. Figure out where your audience is most active. There is an endless amount of tools available that let you search through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs, and any other social site. I always review any current and past analytics as well to determine which referral sites are already working. This should give you a well rounded view of where your audience is hanging out and talking shop. You will also expose more of their needs and pain points, which you can feed back into your marketing plan.
4. How do they digest their information? It's also worth some time figuring out how your audience prefers to be reached. Do they respond well to e-mail over RSS? Would they prefer video to audio? Before sinking too much of your budget into any one medium, consider doing some initial split testing to figure out how your audience digests their content.
What kind of audience profiling do you find most helpful? What questions do you ask yourself?