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Your customers are smart – so your audience strategy should be, too

Kelsey Agnew
Written by Kelsey Agnew  October 24, 2016

The 2016 edition of Advertising Week in New York City featured a full five days of events and hundreds of sessions, but despite the number of people and perspectives involved in bringing this event to life, there were definitely a few topics that came up over and over again in conversations and presentations — your audience strategy.

One of the common threads I noticed was best summed up by author & marketer Seth Godin in his Tuesday session: For the first time in the history of this industry, we have the opportunity to speak to different people differently – and yet we refuse to do so.

For the first time in the history of this industry, we have the opportunity to speak to different people differently – yet we refuse to do so.

Seth Godin, Author & Marketer

What Seth and so many other speakers & panelists noted over and over again during Advertising Week was that, in 2016, marketing and advertising should not and cannot be ‘one size fits all.’ Consumers are used to content that is tailored to their interests, whether they’ve explicitly expressed them or not. Their social networks are powered by algorithms created to show them more of what they like and less of what they don’t. Publishers have also adopted this approach. Your customers know that you know things about them – and they expect you to use that data to speak to them in a way that’s authentic, natural and engaging.

As advertisers, we have the ability to slice and dice our campaigns in countless ways – and if we’re not taking the time to customize our messages to the users who will see them, especially if those messages will reach the user in environments where everything else is customized – we’re not doing digital the way it should be done in 2016.

The other thing to consider when you’re crafting content for your audience is this: quick and efficient doesn’t necessarily mean dumbed-down. NFL CMO Dawn Hudson shared during her Advertising Week panel discussion that NFL fans in particular are smarter than ever. They have more access to more data on more players, and they’re not afraid to leverage that knowledge in their interactions with each other or with the brand. Even if you don’t have a built-in, rabid fan base, the core idea here still applies: Listen to your audience, understand what they know, and give them an opportunity to build upon that knowledge.

So, how do you make sure your digital strategy is smart, forward-thinking, and takes full advantage of the opportunities that present-day digital platforms present? Ask yourself a few key questions in the very, very early stages of your next campaign:

  • Who am I talking to, and what do I know about them? Your answer shouldn’t just be “my customers” – what demographic, geographic, behavioral and/or interest-level data do you have on this audience?
  • How do I fit into their lives? Know what problem you can solve for these users, and why your brand is the best option to do so.
  • How do they talk to or about me (or people like me)? Listen before you speak – someone may look or behave a certain way, based on the data you have, but you may very well be surprised by how they interact with others. If you don’t consider this, don’t expect them to interact with you.
  • What’s different about me, what’s different about them, and where is the overlap? You’re unique. They’re unique. Be unique together.
Kelsey Agnew

Kelsey Agnew

Long before joining the Vert team in 2012 as a Digital Brand Manager, Kelsey was spending her time kicking around a soccer ball, cheering for the Steelers, and building Angelfire websites in northwest Pennsylvania. Currently, Kelsey leads the web & social content charge at Vert, working with clients to develop and execute robust, engaging strategies.