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Market: Perception vs Reality

Who is your real audience and what content and campaigns do they react most powerfully to?

Market analysis allows us to see who your real audience is, where they hang out online, and what makes them laugh, rage, share and take action. It also helps us to clarify your "real" audience (versus your perceived one) and identify potential new audiences. Clearly, market research is incredibly important. So, why is it that some organizations miss their targets when it comes to engaging audiences? Over my years in online content creation, I've noticed some really simple misconceptions that audience and market research can help clarify.

1. You may not be your audience

First, it's important to recognize that you may not be your audience. What you like, where you hang out online, what you find funny or compelling... or disturbing... may not resonate with your organization's target audience.

When you create a campaign, videos, designs, even branding, it's really important to let your personal sense of aesthetics or humor, your political leaning or moral code take a back seat to what you find your actual audience engages with. And if it differs too greatly from your sense of what you are projecting online, it may be time to reevaluate what your brand is actually conveying to people and start playing to your actual audience. Or you may want to adjust your brand story so that your target audience shifts to individuals you actually want to engage with.

It is really important, especially if you are established, to research who it is that's engaging with your content, or engaging with other competitive online content that you want to create or emulate.

2. What you think may not be what the data reveals

Be prepared to discover that your perceived audience and your actual audience may not, in fact, be the same people. This is especially true of new businesses or organizations. It may be that you do not have any significant data to pull from to show you who is actually interested in your cause, product, or services, and you may be surprised to find out that your interest group is not the one you thought you would have... or the one you initially are starting out with due to other factors, such as demographics or that you pulled from your personal audience base for business initially. This is where good competitor research can really elevate your organization.

3. Use the right tools

It's really valuable to see what tools people are using to gather their data. Implement them yourself or hire a professional, even if it has to be part time at first, to set up your analytics tools for you. Do this early so you can follow patterns, such as times during the day or even months in which your audience tends to be more engaged. This will help you know when and how much to reach out to your audience and even what times in the year are more lucrative for running campaigns.

If you really get into the weeds, here, you can even discover if certain keywords associated with your organization change during different seasons and adjust your campaigning accordingly. How far down the rabbit hole you go is defined by how much time you have or money you are willing to invest in professional help, but it can be absolutely mind blowing the degree of priceless information that is available for you to glean from your audience. And that information can change everything. There is a good reason dedicated marketing consultants make beaucoup dough. But don't worry, we can help get you set up and rolling.

I'm not going to spend time talking about my favorite systems for gaining knowledge about target markets in this particular post because there's so much information available online for the taking if you want to delve into the processes. There are also a hundred different ways to accomplish successful market and audience research and people will swear by any of them depending on what they have need for.I have a number of systems because the work I do ranges from advocacy animations to lead generation websites.

My personal strategies are catered to the needs of the type of clients that I have and the particular creative or campaign work I tend do and I've streamlined them for those needs through a lot of education and practice. But there are some standards that are important. For example, do you have Google Analytics and Google Adwords set up on your website?

Keep this close to your heart: Know thy audience. Know thy ACTUAL audience. And learn to adjust if the results are not what you were anticipating or what your perception of your audience is. Flexibility and market knowledge are superpowers for any business. “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein

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