Target Markets: Audience, Listeners, Followers and Buyers

As technology changes, so does the way we look at and interact with target markets. It’s not that buyers and segments of buyers have changed - those are still the same. What has changed is how we send out messages, how customers find us and how we interact with our Audience.

In the days of mass marketing and marketers had two broad choices: media advertising and direct marketing. Both forms of marketing rely on interrupting a person’s attention with a commercial, a phone call or a letter - all of which are annoying. As technology changed the techniques for advertising changed but not the process of annoying interruptions. So we ended up with pop-up windows, interrupt pages, telemarketers and email spam.

With recent developments in search engines and social media, however, buyers are able to look for information when they want and filter information that they don’t want. Consequently, how marketing is done is changing. In recent years the acceptance of interruption based advertising is tolerated less and content base marketing is accepted more.

With this trend in mind, I have changed my language and the models I use during discussions about marketing strategy with clients and students. I changed because marketing technology and techniques have changed. I am now using the diagram below to help explain the changing landscape of advertising and marketing. My clients and students have found the diagram and the related discussions valuable. Let’s look at the model in more detail.

Audience
This group includes anyone who is not yet aware of your brand, your company or the products that you offer - but they should be aware. The Audience is your target market - people who need or want what you have to offer. Somehow, as marketers, you have to reach this group with your message (Outbound Marketing) or help them find you (Inbound Marketing). In an earlier post I outlined the Acquisition Funnel that we use at Mx3 Metrics. You can reach your Audience by creating Impressions from advertising and publishing interesting and relevant content (articles, pictures, videos). Eventually, a subset of this group will be Buyers – assuming they like what you have to offer.

Listeners
This group includes anyone who is paying attention to the messages that you are sending and the content you are developing. Although this group is listening and paying attention they have not identified themselves to your organization and as a result you don’t have a way to communicate or interact with them. But they will interact if you make an effort to engage them.

Followers
Followers are people who are interacting with you and your brand. Followers are easy to identify - they have liked your Facebook page, followed you on Twitter, subscribed to your channel on YouTube, subscribed to your blog or connected with you on LinkedIn. You know these people. You can communicate with them directly. This is your community - the people who support you and are committed to your brand. In this group you will find Prospects, Referrers and Buyers.

Buyers
These are your customers. They purchase your products and services. They love you.

But there is a catch. Creating blog posts, status updates, tweets, and pins is not enough. As marketers and advertisers, we still have to create Impressions in order to reach our Audience, find Listeners, get Followers and secure Buyers. But how we create those Impressions has changed. 

On a search engine like Google we can use techniques like keyword marketing: Search Engine Optimization and Pay-per-Click advertising. On a social media platform like Facebook we need to combine status updates with advertising like Promote Page and Boost Post. You start by creating posts that link back to stories, events, pictures, promotions and videos. But in order to get an adequate volume of Impressions you have to do more than just post or tweet. It is now standard practice to set-up an account on Facebook, add your credit card and pay for advertising. Same thing with Twitter. And LinkedIn. And in a few months, Pinterest.