Hello. I am an audience.
Let's start thinking about our audiences as human beings.
Audience: You are here today
Message: Coming next
Outcome: Coming soon
Let’s dive into this week’s session, focused on the all-important (and all-paying) audience.
Please share this session with your colleagues, mates and network peers.
I’m exaggerating. But B2B suffers from a chronic dehumanization of customers, who want the same things as everyone else: to be loved, respected, entertained and sometimes left alone. They also want pay rises, promotions and to get home to tuck their kids into bed.
B2B is undergoing a crucial shift toward wider-reaching media and more emotional creative, but many marketers are still missing the vital human insights that should be informing this work. To uncover the kind of insights that can drive real B2B effectiveness, you need to look beneath the suit and tie.
While I don’t agree with the premise of this article from The Drum, I do appreciate that they are trying to get at the heart of an audience.
Maybe not necessarily influencers in the way we think about the word today. However, these human beings have some sway in the business decision-making process.
And depending on who we’re targeting (based on the services our organization is offering), these human beings will help us get our message in front of the right individual to make the right decision at the right time.
A few highlights before we get stuck in…
I focus on services as the main business-to-business ‘product’
(Hardware, or product, isn’t where the money is made)
I think of products (or boxes) as one part of a business solution
The other part is services (including software)
Together, they make a solution
Services in themselves aren’t unique; We all provide technology services or financial services or education services
How we deliver the services creates a unique selling point, unique selling value or competitive differentiation
If you somewhat agree with the above, then audience becomes a fairly critical piece of your communications and marketing puzzle.
Our teams and our client relationships are our competitive differentiators.
I mean, what else is different between ourselves and competitors?
Your #1 asset.
Your #1 asset is your relationships.
I’m sure your intellectual property and cozy home-away-from-home offices are very nice and make you feel good.
All that stuff can be taken away and if you still have your relationships (your audience), you still have a fighting chance.
No audience. No shot.
How you define your audience is up to you, however some ways to think about segmenting or grouping your audiences:
This is nice. It’s also super boring and incredibly flat and amazingly obvious. If you’re not segmenting your audience by service today, start tomorrow.
It’s also short-sighted: The assumption is that your audience only makes up current and potential paying audience members.
You agree paying audience members are not your only influential audience though, yes?
In fact, by service may not be a segment at all.
It’s likely a sub-segment of a broader, more longer-term approach.
Also nice. Also super boring and incredibly…(eh, see above).
This might be as or more important depending on what types of services you provide. If you are a global provider of services (say, managed IT services), geo comes less important.
If your services are offered and delivered within driving distances only, then by geo becomes more important.
Still, likely a sub-segment of a broader, more longer-term approach.
<insert-john-mulaney-new-in-town gif here>
You want me to do what?
</insert-john-mulaney-new-in-town gif here>
Hang with me here for a minute.
If we think about our own audience, this makes the most sense.
And it’s scalable to adapt to future services, initiatives, priorities, etc. with applicable segments (and cross-segments when the time comes):
Employees: A segment with an obvious outcome (education, information)
Media: A segment with an obvious outcome (information, coverage)
Investors: A segment with an obvious outcome (information)
Prospects: A segment with an obvious outcome (education, funnel)
Clients: A segment with an obvious outcome (education, upsell)
Segments such as Prospects and Clients can then be sub-segmented into by service, by geo, etc.
Cross-segments: Possible for an organization to fit into both media and client segments? (Yes.)
How many other audiences can you think of where there’s an outcome?
Lots, I’m assuming?
A quick word from our sponsor…
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A word about outcomes.
What is an outcome?
Besides a funny-sounding word after saying and typing it a handful of times, it’s also the reason why we’re doing what we’re doing.
If we think back to the intro to this course, there are three keys to success:
In that opening course, I offered a loose definition of outcome:
Outcome: Are we chasing clicks? Views? Sales? Something else? How do we know if we’ll be successful? (This might also be described as the “why”.)
(More about outcomes in future sessions.)
If we know what our outcome–or, our goal–is, it should be fairly simple to tie it to a specific audience. (It’s also one less question to have to respond to when setting up these campaigns and programs.)
A word about segmentation.
When segmenting audiences, be careful not to think too short-term.
Just because a segment makes sense for this message (and, hopefully, this outcome), doesn’t mean it should be set up as an actual segment.
As additional campaigns and programs are discussed, created and executed, the size of your segments will start to become a management nightmare.
Segments should be thought of as dynamic (ie, not static). In other words, if the criteria of a segment defines a specific contact today, that contact can still fall into other segments in the future with little to no data management.
If geo is indeed a segment (or, sub-segment)
My contact record today is in geo-segment-A
My contact record tomorrow should automatically be associated with geo-segment-B (and all the related messaging)
(Someone needs to update my contact record)
A word about advertisers.
Should advertisers be an audience (or a segment of an audience)?
Depending on your outcomes and business model: Yes!
And think about the value and attractiveness (if advertising is indeed a part of your business model) your audience will be to advertisers.
As an example, I think about the Sunday shows in America. The Face the Nation types of shows.
Do you watch those shows
Have you noticed those ads?
Who is the audience for those ads?
And how much are those audiences worth to those advertisers?
That’s an example of the value of an audience.
Imagine what your business can achieve with a focus on your own specific audience.
The Drum: Is B2B marketing becoming less boring?
This is a nice audience primer; In future sessions, we’ll talk about the importance of advertising and our audience, how we expand our audiences and how we provide value to our audiences
If there’s one takeaway: Think of audiences as human beings with many complexities, attributes and characters
All B2B audiences are B2C while all B2C audiences are not B2B audiences: True?