One of the hardest things to do in marketing is put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. When you know your industry backwards and forwards, when you know every detail of your product and company, it can be extremely difficult to remember what it’s like to know none of that. But that’s often the reality of your audience. So your success comes down to one thing – can you think like a beginner?

The most recent example I’ve seen of this is a non-profit that has confused a “take action” campaign with awareness-raising. When I read their mission, it was clear they are trying to target people who know nothing about the environmental health issue they address. Their whole purpose is to educate people and get them to take a specific action to help mitigate the problem.

Fine, so far. But there are a lot of steps between getting someone aware of a new cause and getting them to take action on it. A LOT of steps. In the for-profit world, you would never expect someone who just heard of a specific credentialing problem to immediately purchase your solution. So what do you do?

1) Talk to your target audience.

The best thing you can ever do in marketing is get to know your target audience. This is what voice-of-customer marketing is all about. After all, why theorize about your audience when you can find out for sure?

Discover what they know of the problem you address. What surprises them? What do they misunderstand? Where are they confused? Have they even heard of the problem? Do they think it’s relevant to them?

2) Create a roadmap.

Once you know what they know (or don’t know) about your area of expertise, it’s time to build a roadmap. You need a plan to help them, step by step, feel ready to purchase your solution.

Think about what knowledge they already have about the problem you solve. Do they have any misconceptions? If so, that’s probably your first step – clearing up those misconceptions. Is there a way the problem impacts something major, like patient care or hospital finances, that they haven’t realized? If so, your next step should be linking the problem to its impact, so they can see it. Proceed along this path, being careful to avoid making big leaps, until the next logical step is helping them purchase your product.

3) Design a content campaign.

Create content for each step in your roadmap. This can be anything from a video to a blog post or a lengthy LinkedIn post, as long as it’s able to get in front of your target audience. Ideally, create a more expansive option for those who are interested in even more information. For instance, a white paper or a webinar.

Wherever possible, offer a download or “register now” option so that your audience can self-select when they want more information. This allows you to send them content specially targeted to their stage of understanding of your product.

When in doubt, focus on your customer.

Whenever you hit a roadblock in marketing, always – always – go back to your target audience. Put yourself in their shoes because they are the ones that have the answers you need.

Photo by Gia Oris on Unsplash.