Decide who you’re talking to

Before I started earning my living as a commercial writer, I was noticing marketing; the bad marketing.

I was noticing it on estate agents’ websites, estate agents who spoke to tenants at the same time as landlords. I was noticing it on builders’ vans, builders who were apparently specialists in everything. What these estate agents had in common was they hadn’t decided who they were talking to.

I then started noticing a similar problem in other forms of communication, such as certain types of workplace emails: the everyone email that everyone ignores. Of course, these emails weren’t marketing, but they were an illustration of the problem affecting some publicity.

Then I noticed that some people really knew who they wanted to talk to. Sales people calling door to door, love them or hate them, know who they need to talk to. They’re calling door to door because they’re selling utilities. They ask to speak to the householder because they know they’re wasting their time talking to anyone else.

So I started being a bit more precise, and planning who I was going to talk to. When I was selling drama workshops to primary schools, I prepared my leaflets not just for teachers, but for teachers with literacy management responsibility in primary schools, because they held the budget that I would be paid from. ‘Selling’ to anyone else was a waste of time.

I now recognise some form of audience profiling as a hallmark of good planning for marketing. A potential client approached me last week and she said “I want your opinion on this piece of marketing. My audience is Guardian readers aged 25 to 60, living in Chorlton.” I said to her, “I love how specific you are!”

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