There’s a famous quote often attributed to John Wanamaker, an early American department store entrepreneur: “Half my advertising budget is wasted – the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” The phrase has become somewhat trite these days, showing up often in PowerPoint presentations given by marketers across the world.

But the saying itself speaks to a problem at the heart of many marketing departments: it’s just tough to know which of your marketing campaigns are successful and which are a waste of time and resources. 160 years after Wanamaker opened his own retail store, in our advanced digital age with AI and automation galore, his words seem to ring more true than ever before.

One of the easiest ways to minimize waste in advertising – or any other part of your marketing budget – is gaining a better understanding of your audience. Knowledge about the people you’re selling to and how you can help them solve their problems has been the holy grail of all kinds of marketing and advertising since the inception of human commerce. 

Today, audience knowledge is arguably more important because of the huge volume of noise prospects face every day in the marketplace. Below, we’re diving into more specifics about why knowing your target audience may be the key to unlocking more success – and ROI – from your marketing.

Reduces Content Costs

As we mentioned in the intro, greater audience knowledge means less money spent on the wrong thing. For marketers today, a significant chunk of their resources go towards creating content. From blog posts to social media updates to email newsletters, companies in all sectors spend lots of time and money on creating content.

But what’s actually in all that content? Is it really helpful, or is it only being produced because there’s a need? Robert Rose, a strategy executive with the Content Marketing Institute, frequently talks about the problematic concept of the content team operating as a “vending machine” – you need a piece of content for a funnel, so you push a button and the staff member, team or contractor produces it. The problem with this approach is it creates a siloed attack where different arms of your marketing campaigns function with different goals.

In an ideal situation, audience data serves as a connecting factor that ties the creators of content in your business to all other areas: including the broader goals of the company. When this happens, there is in turn less money and time wasted creating content that doesn’t resonate with your target audience. 

Improves Brand Reputation

The impact of strong audience knowledge on brand reputation might be most apparent in B2B sales. When your audience operates in a highly technical field that requires specialized knowledge, it’s easier for them to tell if you really know what you’re talking about. This can serve as something of a double-edged sword, however – it also means that if you have authentic knowledge of your audience and their goals, you’ll stand out in your marketplace.

When your audience operates in a highly technical field that requires specialized knowledge, it’s easier for them to tell if you really know what you’re talking about. Share on X

The key here is to stay current by studying and immersing yourself in communities of people like your target customer. Whether it’s a sub-forum on Reddit, a Discord channel, or a social media group, it’s important to take time to understand the newest concerns and discussions among your audience. Ideally, these are communities you already are or were present in at one time. This is a big reason why many of the most successful healthcare services and product companies are created by former doctors, nurses or healthcare office employees. They have first-hand knowledge and experience in a highly specialized field where it’s easy for prospects to pick out impostors.

Guides Direction of Your Business

Great companies respond quickly and effectively to the most important requests of their prospective customers. The idea has been ingrained into the modern business community, particularly since the rise of the Lean Startup model popularized by Eric Ries and others in the startup community. 

But the best companies are able to predict what their customers want in the future. Reaching this level has the potential to put a business in rarefied air reserved for the biggest brands in history: Nike, Microsoft, IBM, etc. Steve Jobs once famously paraphrased Henry Ford, believing that he’d once said: “If I asked my customers what they wanted, they would’ve told me a faster horse.”

Over the years, this quote has been twisted into an argument against customer research. If people wouldn’t have asked for a car or an iPhone, why bother paying attention to their input on your product or service? This interpretation neglects the first part of the quote, where Jobs says “our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do.”

You don’t reach that depth of audience understanding by ignoring relevant data. Just the opposite: the only way you can really predict what your customer wants before they do, like Jobs and Ford, is by so deeply understanding your audience that you begin to think the same way. This level of familiarity can only be attained with an extremely strong grasp of prospect data, and typically takes a long time to achieve.

Final Thoughts on Audience Data for Your Funnel  

The specific methods you use to collect data and learn about your audience will vary depending on the kind of product or service you offer. We’ve covered individual tactics like landing page and form optimization on many other posts here on this blog.

We believe, however, what’s more important than any one tactic or data collection method is adopting a broader philosophy about audience data within your company. The truth is, audience data is important to your B2B funnel and almost every other part of your marketing, from the initial creation of customer avatars right on through to the way you hire and build your team.

As your organization changes and grows, you’ll find that the particular campaigns you deploy may change. Sometimes you’ll focus on high-level content intended to make your prospects think deeply; other times you’ll just be creating a simple demonstration video that shows off one of the key features of your product or service. No matter what particular actions you are taking, they’ll always be more successful with a foundation in audience data. If you can pay close enough attention to what your ideal client wants, what’s stopping them from achieving it, and what they need to be convinced that you can help them in this pursuit, all of your marketing endeavors will flow much more easily.

And if you need a little veteran help to give you a better perspective on how to wrap your head around customer data, FunnelEnvy is here to assist. We have a wide breadth of experience helping businesses of all sizes in all different industries get a better handle on their audience. Whether you’re a brand new startup or a seasoned marketer looking to enter the next phase of growth, we can help fill in some of the natural gaps that may occur as your marketing gets more and more developed. The more things you have going on, the more difficult it is to keep your audience central to your mission.

To start the process, just click here to fill out a quick quiz that will help us learn more about ways we may be able to assist.