Good marketing professionals relentlessly pursue a deeper understanding of their target market. In the office, at lunch, making dinner, and even in the shower, great marketers are constantly attempting to eek out a better understanding of the people who will be buying their products.
However, staying ahead of the ever-changing attitudes and behaviors of the modern market can seem impossible at times. Sometimes, the best strategies are revealed through going back to the fundamentals. Keeping up with trends provides a temporary boost, but a deeper understanding of the principles behind those trends can be enduring.
Marketing's Two Headed Monster
Great marketers know how to promote a product and sell a brand. And, even more importantly, they understand the difference between the two. As branding writer and entrepreneur Scott Goodson explains in Forbes,
“Brands are psychology and science brought together as a promise mark as opposed to a trademark. Products have life cycles. Brands outlive products. Brands convey a uniform quality, credibility and experience. Brands are valuable.”
Products DO something for our customers. They have a specific functionality. A brand offers something more nebulous — an emotional connection, a promise, a lifestyle signifier. Most of the time, people fall in love with brands, not products.
Since there is clearly a difference in a brand and a product, why do we attempt to market them collectively to our customers? Shouldn't we be targeting customers from both a product perspective and a brand perspective?
We should. Jim Joseph, a marketing agency president, explains why in a recent article for Entrepreneur.
“Marketing is a never-ending job to just keep up with your customers… because in this day of interactive, social marketing, you have to do both jobs [product & branding] to really understand and engage with your target market.”
The Product Perspective
Marketing a product is all about selling a solution to your customer's problems. Ideally, your product stems from a need you have identified in a particular market. If the product comes first, you must locate that need in the market to successfully sell it. As a result, marketing isn't just about locating an audience and selling hard. It is about locating a specific audience that has exhibited an inherent need for or interest in the product or service.
Great marketers find ways to capitalize on the demand for new products in specific markets. Your new product is much more likely to succeed if you market it to the people who need it the most. Think about it this way: 100% of effort applied to a proven niche is much better than 10% of effort applied to 10 different niches. Marketing strategically to a narrower segment of the population ensures you're not applying your time and money in place where your product cannot or will not sell. ?
Understanding and identifying who your target market is demographically is a great first step. Demographics includes all the facts about a targeted audience that make them an exceptional fit for a product or service. As Joseph explains in his article,
“Demographics include sex, age, geography, income, education, etc. Demographics are the elements you need to know about your target audience to see if your product and its benefits make sense for them.”
As I've written previously, time spent getting to better know your target consumer and their needs is never time wasted. Are you launching a high-end home appliance or an innovative app that coordinates various modes of public transportation? You will be targeting a very different consumer depending on the type of product, so ask yourself “Which segment of the market will have a compelling need for my product?” Marketing your public transportation app in the luxury car market won't get you far.
The Brand Perspective
The power of a brand is unparalleled when building a business or launching a new product. But it can be incredibly difficult to understand how to market your brand, and, as a result, some marketers end up just marketing their products twice as hard.
While product marketing involves selling an individual solution to a specific problem, marketing a brand is about building credibility and enthusiasm over the long-term. Especially if you're new to the market, credibility must be your starting point. You can earn customer trust and loyalty by making your branding and advertising believable, sharing your expertise with valuable information, and spending time developing and maintaining a good web presence.
Good marketers also understand their markets psychographically — which includes a customers personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyle. Demographics reveal data, while psychographics reveal emotions. In order to be successful marketers, we must understand how our brand connects to our target market on an emotional level. Joseph posits a great scenario using Starbucks,
“Psychographic information goes much deeper into how the Starbucks customer feels about community, socio-political issues, relationships and spending time during the week and on weekends. This information is vital to building the Starbucks brand, far beyond the coffee, as it directs how to interact with customers past just what a cup of caffeine can offer.”
You Can Achieve Both
It is a marketer's job to expand both the product and the brand, which is why it is a necessity to consider each separate of the other. The quicker we admit there are two parts to targeting an audience, the faster we can begin creating strategies that will fulfill both aspects of the marketer's job. By incorporating both demographic and psychographic information into your marketing strategy, you can address both of these needs in your target market, engaging your customers and building a community around both your product and your brand.
How do you incorporate demographic and psychographic information into your marketing strategy? Tweet us @EidsonPartners to join the conversation!