What Does Your Target Market Want?
Most marketing companies have one-track minds. This is especially true of traditional advertisers and big traditional media companies.
They are so wrapped up in their own view of the world – and their own view of what branding and marketing is and is supposed to be – that they make a massive mistake.
They forget about the client – or, in the case of marketing companies – they forget who the client’s client is.
In this article, I’m going to rant talk in depth about what I’ve just highlighted, and how you can avoid it.
Marketing Is Aspirational
First stop: What is marketing?
Marketing is aspirational. Essentially, as copywriters, ad-creators and other sneaky-salesmen, we’re giving a would-be customer the impression that their life will be better with a product or service.
Hopefully the product delivers. If you want to be a copywriter, then I’d suggest getting quickly to a place where you work with products and companies who you’ve vetted. …but we work with what we can.
Essentially, if you’re writing ad material, you’re taking a person from unfulfilled to fulfilled through the marketing message and purchase of the product.
…So It Should Be Easy
Obviously, I’m simplifying everything a little for the purposes of this article – which I’ve left until the last minute.
But a lot of people on the “social media marketer” or “SEO guru” treadmill could do a lot better for themselves if they followed the above.
Nobody would try endlessly spamming or creating naff Facebook ads if they simply went with the “find problem, present solution” model.
Yet many companies get this wrong, even when they get out of the “throw ad money at the problem” stage of their business.
It Still Isn’t Easy To Market. Why?
People get their aspirations confused with their target market’s aspirations. Some marketers have a self-generated view in mind of what an advert should look like or what marketing should be. They then refuse to consult reality to the detriment of everyone’s budget.
I know I’ve written about this elsewhere, but I’ll do a little anecdote instead of re-iterating the same point.
A few weeks back, I had a little disagreement with a client. They are in the self-help niche in a sense; they have a company that deals with people with social anxiety.
I’m not going to go into specific details, but they wanted to run ads about a person with social anxiety being comfortable with being the centre of attention.
This is a confused aspirational message – you’ll rarely find a person with social anxiety who aspires to be the centre of attention. It doesn’t happen very often. Thinking that a person with social anxiety wants to be the centre of attention is what a person who doesn’t suffer from the affliction would prescribe the problem as.
It’s the same with companies who target people who want weight loss with adverts about being jacked and muscular.
Being jacked and muscular is an aspiration for the fitness business owner. Most people who are having problems with their weight don’t have that aspiration. They want to fit in their old jeans or not suffer from diabetes or whatever.
It’s a different market, different set of problems. As a business owner or marketer, your aspirations should be invisible.
So, What Do Your Target Market Want?
Alright… so, mistake clarified.
Let’s talk about what your customer actually wants.
This is important, because when you’re copywriting – or advertising/marketing in general – the product you’re advertising is the solution to their problem.
If you don’t know what their problem is, you’re going to have a hard time creating sales material for the product.
Also you’re going to have a hard time differentiating your business. To go back to the weight loss example, there are millions of completely cookie-cutter supplement companies that are all driving up the price of Facebook Ads for no reason whatsoever. They all sell the same products from the sae wholesalers and they’re all using those same ads with the guy who goes from puffing his stomach out to having a chiselled six-pack in thirty days.
Again… they aren’t solving the problem. They don’t know what the problem is, so instead it’s a race to the top of ad-spending and a race to the bottom on price.
Or, in the case of fitness, it’s a race to find the next “weird chemical” that has miracle properties.
Let’s instead of that go on a journey and think about what our customers actually want.
Start With Their Feet On The Ground
Here’s how I described the issue to the social anxiety company.
For whatever your target market is, literally do the following:
Imagine you are the person you’re marketing to before they see your message.
Where are they in the world? What are they doing? What’s infiltrating their senses?
My particular question is always, “How do they process information?” because I like the MBTI psychological map and I think it’s crucial to how you construct a sales letter. (More on that another day.)
Only when you’ve thought about these base questions will their problems start to make sense.
For a person with social anxiety, there are going to be strong emotions and hooks that keep them in their own head. That could be your starting point.
Take Them On A Journey
Once you’ve profiled your target market, (Note: you’re talking to the “average” of your target market. Don’t try and literally pin down a specific person,) you need to think about their journey.
Remember, they’re going from “having a problem” to “not having a problem.”
This is aspirational, and it’s their aspiration.
If you’re an extrovert, life of the party kind of guy, then you might imagine that you’re taking William the Wallflower on a journey from “possibly a serial killer” to “George Clooney in a room full of girls.” That’s the problem from above, and you aren’t going to make that mistake, right?
Instead, you’re going from “This kid freezes up at the sight of another human” to “never stutter ever again during small talk.”
Remember, you’re fixing a problem. That’s what’s aspirational.
Neither of those situations are more “boring” than the other. One solves the actual problem, the other transplants a different judgement on what the problem is.
But how do you know what the problem is and what the aspiration is? After all, it’s hard to not transplant your aspirations onto someone else.
The Easiest Way To Do This (If You Have An Audience)
The easiest way to find out about people’s aspirations and the problems they face is to ask them.
It’s that simple. A lot of businesses marketing companies could send out a simple survey or email saying, “What’s your biggest issue?” and get a ton of ideas.
They could also straight up ask, “What would you do if you could solve your issue?”
I’d be willing to bet that a lot of marketing companies would be fired if the people that hired them did that, because the answers would be completely different to what those marketers thought the audience wanted.
If You Can’t Ask Your Market, Split Test.
There are some situations where you can’t simply ask your audience.
Namely, you don’t have one yet. Or you haven’t built a relationship with them.
(In other words, don’t just blast your email list with “What the hell do you people want?!”)
Providing you can create content, you can start split testing. You can learn a lot from just optimising your headlines, for instance. But just in terms of general content, you can see what people are into pretty quickly if you pay attention.
- Which Instagram pictures get more likes?
- Which articles get more clicks?
- Who shares your content on social media, and what do they share?
- Most importantly, take the above and figure out what people
This is a dense article. I’m going to condense it into a few bullet points now, but it’s fascinating because it’s the real meat and bones of marketing and copywriting and all the good stuff.
- Marketing is aspirational. You take a person from “Have problem” to “don’t have problem.”
- That aspiration has to be the target market’s aspiration, not yours
- To start with, think about where your target market are and how they think/what they feel
- Then, take them on a journey to where the problem no longer exists
- The easiest way to get the information you need is to ask people for it.
- If you can’t do this, then find out yourself by creating content and testing it for popularity.
If you do this consistently, your marketing message will magically hit the target market, and you will build an audience that loves you (or the company that hires you) for solving their problems and helping them reach the state they aspire to.