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Your target audience should be at the heart of your marketing efforts. Over time, misconceptions about your audience may have crept into your thinking. Check out our list of common marketing myths to better define your target audience.

Marketing myth #1

My target audience is everyone.

Many business owners are afraid to define their target audience for fear of missing out on other potential customers. Unfortunately, without a clear audience your messaging becomes unfocused and inconsistent. Spend the majority of your marketing budget connecting with your most reliable audience, and consider running a smaller campaign that targets a new segment. At the very least, make sure each individual piece of marketing collateral speaks to a clearly defined audience.

To define your audience, think about which types of customers are most loyal. According to the Pareto Principle, most of your business will come from a small portion of your clients. Who makes the biggest purchases? Who makes the most frequent purchases? Once you have that customer in mind, put yourself in his or her shoes. Think about how they spend their day, where they hang out, what they do for fun, and what causes them stress. Plan most of your marketing around this group of people.

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You can’t target the whole world. Define your audience.

Marketing myth #2

My audience needs to know everything.

This myth usually manifests in lengthy lists of services and wordy websites. Just as your marketing should target a specific audience, it should have a clear and focused message. You don’t need to worry about lost business thanks to the Halo Effect. The Halo Effect is a form of cognitive bias that helps our brains make decisions more quickly. Basically, when we think a person or company is great in one area, we assume they’re great in all areas.

Most businesses do two types of work: profitable work you want to do, and the other stuff people ask for. Your marketing should be designed to gain more of the first. You’ll always have the second.

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Market what you do best and let the Halo Effect do the rest.

Marketing myth #3

My audience doesn’t care about print media.

By now, most businesses have realized their audience spends lots of time online and on mobile, and have adjusted their marketing toward these outlets. By all means, engage in digital marketing. But don’t forget about print!

According to a 2017 study, 55% of participants responded favorably to print ads and billboards, while only 17% found online pop-up ads favorable. According to research out of Temple University, physical advertising elicits a greater emotional response, creates a stronger subconscious desire for the product or service, and associates a higher value with the product or service than digital advertising. According to Canadian neuromarketing firm TrueImpact, paper marketing requires 21% less cognitive effort to process. This makes paper both easier to understand and more memorable. According to the report, “When asked to cite the brand (company name) of an advertisement they had just seen, recall was 70% higher among participants who were exposed to a direct mail piece (75%) than a digital ad (44%).”

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Paper isn’t done yet! Print marketing is still a strong option.

Marketing myth #4

My audience knows how to respond.

Your target audience is intelligent but busy. That’s why your marketing should include a measurable call to action (CTA). Make sure your audience knows what to do after engaging with your marketing. Do you want them to call for an appointment, visit your website, like your Facebook page, donate money, vote for a candidate, or shop your sale?

Be sure you can track these responses to evaluate the effectiveness of your campaign. Before you send out that coupon, turn on those AdWords, or promote that post – define your CTA and take a baseline measurement.

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Guide your audience’s response with a clear call to action.

Marketing myth #5

My target audience will be curious.

They’ll see this weird looking billboard and they’ll stop and think, “Huh, I wonder what that’s about?”

False. There is a difference between creative and confusing. And the human brain has a natural aversion to being confused. The scientists and marketers behind The Physics of Brand share that the brain seeks alignment between visuals and written text. When your message and visuals clash, the brain finds it disturbing and untrustworthy.

To a certain extent, people need to see what they expect to see. There’s plenty of room for artistry and innovation within that realm, but marketers should be aware. Thanks to selective attention the brain won’t even process things that are too far outside expectations as demonstrated by the folks behind The Invisible Gorilla or Brain Games. No business wants to spend money on marketing that’s invisible.

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Your brain ignores the unexpected—even a gorilla playing basketball.

What marketing myths and target audience mistakes have you observed? Share with us in the comments.

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