Jessica came to our first coaching session dejected. “I’ve tried everything I can to market my latest offering, and nothing’s working. What am I doing wrong?”

As I always do with new clients, we went back to basics. My first question was, “Tell me about your audience”.

After stumbling around for a while as she tried to describe her audience without much success, I stopped Jean and said, “That’s your first and maybe your only problem. You don’t know who you’re marketing to.”

This problem comes up more often than you might think. You may know that you need to know your audience, your ideal client. But you may not know them well enough to move on to the next step in your marketing.

The response you want from your prospects is, “Yes! That’s me!” You want them to immediately recognize themselves, so they know right away that you are the company for them. To get that ‘aha’ moment of recognition from your audience, you need to know them and what they want.

Your entire marketing plan is built on this one foundation: knowing your audience. Everything else is built on this knowledge: your strategy, where you’ll market, and how. Your copy, your timing…well, you get the idea!

You have to know who these folks are in order to reach them effectively. Otherwise, your money is wasted.

Teri, another new client, said to me recently when I provided her with 9 questions to answer to start to build her marketing plan, “These questions are really simple.” I agreed with her. But they’re not necessarily easy to answer.

Even though she breezed through them on her own, when we spent a session trying to answer even the first one, she saw that there were significant gaps.

Until you have clarity about your audience, your marketing is a scattershot approach that may or may not land where you want it to. Most small businesses don’t have the budget or time to use a trial-and-error approach. And you don’t have to.

To find out more about your audience so that you can market to them, here are 3 questions you can start to answer to immediately to expand your knowledge:

  1. The easy question first: What are the obvious things about them? What can you see or measure? Male or female? Age? Big city or rural? Income range? Homeowner or renter? Single or in a relationship? Children or none? Note that not all of these things may apply directly to a buying decision around your product or service (though they may have an indirect effect), but they do help you get to know them.
  2. Now on to the next level: What do they believe about your product or service? This is their pre-existing belief, before you market to them. Do they know they want or need it? Or will they have to be convinced? It’s much much easier to market to people who already recognize that your product or service is something they want. If they don’t, you need a very different marketing approach.
  3. Next: What do they know about you and your company? Are you dealing with people who know you and trust you already? If not, have they ever heard of you? If so, what made them notice you? What do they like about you? What do they think about you? Would they refer you to their friends?

These three (and more) questions are just the beginning, and touch on a few areas that are crucial. They will help you get started in getting to know your audience better.

A big truth: the better you know your audience, the better off you’ll be in every aspect of your business, from marketing and sales to customer service. You’ll be able to tailor everything so that your particular crowd buys and is happy throughout their experience with you. That leads to the holy grail of every business: word of mouth referrals.

Keep in mind, your business almost certainly has more than one audience. You’ll need to get to know all of them well in order to be an effective marketer.

Marketing can get pretty complex, with a lot of moving parts to it. Before you even get to that stage, make sure your foundation is solid.

My single best tip for better marketing results? Know your audience.

Author's Bio: 

Ursula Jorch is a speaker, business coach and consultant who helps entrepreneurs grow a successful business that makes a difference in the world. A 21-year successful entrepreneur herself, Ursula helps you define the difference you want to make in the world and develop strategy and marketing so you have ever-expanding impact.

Find Ursula on her podcast, Work Alchemy: The Impact Interviews where she interviews impactful entrepreneurs and leaders like Seth Godin and Marianne Williamson, and at for free resources for you and your business.

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