Marketing & Networking strategies should be vastly similar in their approach to connecting with their audience. Marketing wants to appeal their product & branding to a target audience, and networking has that same goal except that the product and branding includes a person’s own identity. But the common goal is the same: understanding your target audience. When approaching this problem, you must find some commonalities between what your goals are for your product or branding, and how to divide the groups into specific categories. In this way, you will come up with an easy, and straight-forward way to approach your target audience with a more specific game plan.
Let’s breakdown the approach into 3 important steps for creating your marketing/networking plan:
- What are your goals for your product/brand? — To answer this question, you really have to delve into the purpose of your product, and what you really want to get out of it. Is this product useful in the home? Is this product meant to have a worldwide appeal or simply just a domestic one? How rapidly do you expect to grow? How do you measure success of your product/branding? How much time/effort do you wish to put in to marketing/networking? All of these questions are viable and necessary for you to answer before you can go into creating an identity for your product by which your audience can start to identify.
- What is my ideal target audience for this product/brand? — This question is actually a spin-off of question #1, but what you really want to get out of it is, “If I could have my perfect audience to whom I sell 100% of that product or identifies 100% of my brand, who would it be?” Keep in mind that #3 addresses the categorization of these target audience. However, what you want to ensure is that your product isn’t too scattered or too focused. For example, a musician might make a CD with 10 songs, and 5 of those tracks would be exactly targeted at his “ideal” audience. The other 5 songs, however, would be slight off-shoots in different directions that might fuse his/her style of music with other styles of music, such that it encompasses a slightly wider circle of people that might be interested in his/her music. This brings in the mathematical principles of distributions and confidence intervals. In your ideality, you’d have an audience that is 100% interested in your work, everyone else would be 0%, so that you could do what you like, and be done with it. However, there are very few people who would be 100% interested in your work and probably a lot more people that would be, say, 68% interested, or 50% interested, etc. But how to determine this? That brings us to #3.
- What criteria should be setup that would (a) successfully categorize the various types of audience members (b) accurately measure the probability that a marketing/branding strategy would work? To answer that, you need to do a little bit of market research. Say you’re trying to network to attain your main goal of becoming a CEO of a technology company…how would you discern your target audience? You could split them up into different categories…like for example, major industries? Biomedical, Semiconductors, Defense, etc…Now what? Well, you can devise a way to approach different job types that you need to have to becoming that CEO. So, you’d want to meet and connect with high-end Operations Managers, Directors, Technical Gurus or Subject Matter Experts, and most importantly, Shareholders (or Board members if its not publicly traded). These categories of people probably intertwine to some degree, meaning that they probably have shared experiences, etc, but the main point is that you attack you have your target audience. The final thing you might want to do is understand psyche or their point of view. Maybe you split them up by generation (X, Y, Z), demographics, and finally location. And perhaps, additionally, by hobbies. That way, your goal of being a CEO, is now split up into these other categories that define you, and thus you are able to find the most probable connection with the best suitable combination of factors.
Just remember, when formulating a solid marketing, branding or networking strategy, you have to know what you want for yourself or your product, what audience members currently exist out there, and how to relate the two to formulate the most successful combination. That way, you can be certain that you’ve created the most probable occurrence of a winning formula for your product.
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