Growth Hacking
Jun 18, 2021

How to Really Know Your Audience


Marketing is all about promoting a certain kind of product to sell to a certain kind of customer. Sometimes the marketing world focuses so much on the product that they forget the second half of that sentence: the customer. Understanding who you are selling to is just as important as understanding what you have to offer. But why is this important? How do you achieve it? Here are some tips to help build a stronger connection with your customer base and know your audience like the back of your hand.

What to look for

Before discussing strategies to best connect with your audience, it is first important to have a clear image of what you, as a marketer, are seeking within your clientele.

Illustration of the Iceberg Model, Courtesy of the University of Minnesota

A common marketing conception of its audience is often likened to an iceberg. What we as marketers initially perceive of our target audience is only a small piece of a much bigger picture, much like how only a tiny portion of an iceberg is visible above the ocean water. The lesson to take away from this model is to embrace the endless possibilities for better knowing your audience. There is always more room to get to know your customers just that little bit better. Here’s what to look out for when trying to accomplish this:

Knowing the Conversation of Your Audience

It is always important to keep track of trends and the overall pulse of your audience. There are many ways to do this (which I will discuss later on in the article) but what’s important is to have open ears to listen to your customer base. Look out for any popular trends or topics that seem to have caught your audience’s attention. Just try to assess the overall flow and direction of your customers.

Here’s a similar scenario of this principle in action: think of your own family. When you know your family intimately well, you know exactly how to converse with them. You know what they are going to say before they say it, and you know what to say to garner a certain reaction. You can apply this same type of connection–obviously on a less intimate scale– with your audience. The more you connect with and relate to them, you will begin to know the conversation so well,

it will be like conversing with one very, very large family.

Monitor the conversation of your audience–what direction are they headed? Are you headed in the same direction?

What Are Your Audience’s Other Interests?

Beyond monitoring their conversations, try to expand your scope in order to get a better grasp of your customers. Don’t restrain yourself to just your field of expertise! Try to find out as many additional things as possible about your audience. Keep an eye out for any hobbies or interests that you may be able to incorporate into your research and development. Passions can yield all kinds of new opportunities for your business. Just remember that iceberg model and the limitless creativity that can happen when your innovation meets your clients passions.

Problems Your Audience Is Facing

In addition to finding any interests, you should also look for the opposite as well. When learning about your audience, seek out any dissatisfactions or troubles they may have. This can give some key insights into new marketing avenues. Frustration is almost like the flipside of passion. Both can drive someone to innovation or success. As marketers, you do not just want to focus on positive responses. Don’t shy away from the negative ones–they can be an equally powerful motivator. In the end, a problem on the part of a consumer indicates a need. Any possible need can lead to further opportunities.

Moreover, pay attention to attitude, tone, and mood during any interactions with customers. This can provide valuable intuition into the desires (or lack thereof) and state of mind of your audience. It can be difficult to deduce such emotions from datasets or surveys. Always remember you are dealing with real people with very real emotions. The voice and tone of a client during a simple, everyday interaction may be more telling than even the most strenuous quantitative study.

Competitive Differences

Always pay attention to customer’s preferences, especially between competitors and your own firm. If a customer is using a competing firm’s product, are they satisfied or seeking new endeavors? If they are indeed satisfied, what can you do to penetrate that market? If unsatisfied, what aspects of their product are displeasing? How can that further teach your own marketing strategy? These are all vitally important questions when evaluating not just your own marketing vision, but that of your competitors within the same industry.

What to do

Always seek out new opportunities and relationships with your audience, whether it be direct interactions or researching other aspects of your industry.

Now that you know what information to look for, here are some strategies that can help you find it. Keep in mind there are lots of other ways you connect with your audience. What’s important is that you constantly evaluate your own product and your customer’s own preferences. Don’t get caught up in the same way of doing things for too long, be creative and be adaptable!

Spend Time With Your Audience

Reaching out to your customers can be a valuable source of marketing knowledge. Whether it is face-to-face, on a phone call, or via an online Zoom meeting, it always pays (literally) to sit down with some members of your audience and learn more about what makes them tick. This helps to build that personal connection with your base. It also helps you to understand why they are your customers in the first place and what you can do better to keep that relationship going.

Think of this time as a sort of miniature survey. If you have a conversation with 10, 15, maybe 20 clients, you can paint yourself a neat picture of what they like, what they don’t like, and perhaps what more they are seeking. It may not have the massive numbers of an official statistical survey, but it does have the personal touch that no mathematical algorithm or questionnaire can convey.

Utilize Social Media

Taking advantage of social media goes right along with spending time with your audience. Take to online forums like twitter or social hotspots like Twitter to check in on the buzz around your business or product. You can also check review sites like Yelp or Google Reviews to get valuable information about your customer’s preferences. If you can, maybe even reach out to influencers within your field. These social media influencers are great potential partners to expand your reach with your target audience.  

Spend Time With Co-Workers

Never forget that there are plenty of your own co-workers that have plenty of firsthand experience with your very own audience. A great source of feedback is customer service, basically your company’s very own Yelp review page. Utilize both the positive and negative responses for some insight into what you can improve upon.

You can also spend time with the sales division of your firm. Listen in on their potential customers and look for interesting or difficult questions and patterns in behavior or preference. Pay attention to what the sales team says to these prospects as well. These guys know how to interact with your audience.

Evaluate the Competition

Always keep an eye on your competitors. When you’re browsing social media, don’t just look for the conversation regarding your own firm. Branch out and evaluate the talk around the competition. What do people think they are doing right or wrong? When reaching out to customer’s or prospective customer’s, inquire about their perspectives on the competition. This can provide a great base knowledge of the general consensus around your competitors and your industry as a whole.


Experimenting with new ideas is a great way to learn more about what your audience really wants.

Don’t be afraid to test out new products and ideas on your audience. If this idea resonates with your customers, congratulations! If not, you have still gained valuable information about your clients. Always be looking to push the envelope a little farther. The more creative and innovative you are, the more you will learn about your own audience. The more you learn, the more you can funnel that creativity and innovation into rewarding pursuits.

Don’t reduce everything to numbers

Lastly, it’s important that you NOT rely too heavily on surveys or hard data. Statistical information like this provides a very surface-level understanding of your audience (remember the iceberg). You miss much of the emotion, the passion, and reasoning behind the perspectives and preferences of your customers. Sometimes as a marketer, you just have to roll up your sleeves and conduct research the old-fashioned way. Marketing is not just about knowing numbers, it’s about knowing people.

Always think of your audience as individuals–they are more than just statistics!

Understanding your audience is all about being inquisitive and adaptable. Make an effort to be curious and open-minded. Don’t be afraid to be creative and seek new avenues if need be. Remember, there are always new opportunities just waiting to be explored. No matter how long your business has been operating, it is always a worthwhile investment to explore and evaluate your audience just that little bit further.