If anyone has ever told you something like, “This strategy will definitely help your marketing and get you more sales,” they weren’t telling you the whole story.

Without one VERY IMPORTANT part, no marketing strategy is going to work for you.


The #1 Reason Why Marketing Goes Wrong =

Not Knowing Your Audience!


Before even trying any marketing techniques – YES YOU, PUT INSTAGRAM DOWN! – you have to build the basic understanding of the specific people you are marketing to.

Think of it this way…

When’s the last time you trusted someone for advice who didn’t understand or relate to you?

Um yeah, probably NEVER. (I hope…)

You’re going to trust your bestie who knows what you want out of a relationship, and what kind of lifestyle you live for advice on “is he right for me?!” not your estranged aunt who thinks you should just be married by the time you’re 30.

You want to make your target audience think and FEEL, “Well daaaamn, they totally get me!”

Psychologically, that feeling builds trust. And your customers have to trust you if they are going to buy from you.

So let’s make sure you know your audience well enough to get you to those sales…



No matter how many different Twitter and Facebook ads you try, how much thought you put into those Instagram contests and newsletters, your business just isn’t getting the growth or sales you’re after.

And you’re either thinking, “I have no idea who my audience is, all I know is how I want to portray my brand” or “Yeah, yeah, Rachel, I have defined my audience, I know their demographics” gender, age, etc…

Well, in either case you’ve got a problem.

Problem 1: You are NOT always your target audience

Problem 2: You have to know your target audience on a DEEPER level than you think…


Problem 1: It Ain’t All About You

As Caitlin Bacher of Little Farm Media says, “Just because you like what you make, do NOT assume that YOU are your target market.”

If you make custom wedding invites (for example), you are definitely NOT your target customer. Someone like you isn’t gonna pay for custom wedding invites when they could just make their own…

And using the #makersgonnamake hashtag isn’t going to get you followers that will buy – it’s just going to get you more people like you.

On that note, lots of people are afraid they will lose themselves if they make their brand all about their customers.  

But at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself what you want from your business…

Do you want to sell your products?


Then target the people that will actually buy them!


Problem 2: You Gotta Get Deeper

What you aren’t usually told is that there is a right way to define your target audience, and a wrong way. And if you’re feeling frustrated by a lack of business traction to match your effort, then I’m willing to bet you’re doing it the wrong way…


A lot of people think they know their target audience well enough.

But when I say you have to know your target audience I’m not talkin’ the usual basics (that they’re female, middle-aged, etc). That’s all great, but it’s not specific enough to get the sales you need.

I’m talkin’ really knowing your target audience on a deeper, more personal level. Like what they care about most in their lives, and what basic problems they have that you can fix with your product.

But you might be thinking, “Oh,t if I get too specific with my target audience I will be turning other people away.

And yeah, sometimes that’s true. Your marketing strategies won’t work for everyone because not everyone will relate to them. But the thing is, if you aren’t specific enough, you are also turning off the people that actually would buy your product because they can’t relate to you.

So stop marketing to a mass, overgeneralized blob of not-so-potential customers. YOUR MARKETING WILL NOT WORK.


So here’s the dealio.

You just have to find the people that already do really care about what your products are about, and focus on them.

Point blank: The more targeted (specific and relevant) your marketing is to the right potential buyers, the more successful it will be. So what can you do to get away from this overgeneralized mindset?

Defining your target audience is as simple as getting to know ONE person at a time.


What’s a buyer persona?

It’s literally just a detailed and super helpful description of one individual type of customer.

Your customers will fit under a few general categories (how many depends on your product and audience), so it’s best to make a couple buyer personas if your people vary. If you sell cool indie women’s clothing, then you might have a buyer personas like:

  • Heather: single, boho indie chick, 20’s-30’s, activist for environmental and animal rights issues, PDX scene, free-spirited and values creativity, uses fashion as a way to express herself and make a statement.
  • Bree: 20s, in college, loves art, hipster, always up to date on the latest trends, cares about quality and brand names, status.

So now you know that an Instagram post promoting, “the highest quality leather” would probably send Heather running for the hills. What would grab Heather’s attention (ahem, make her want to buy from you) is if you promoted how your tees and tanks are made of only organic, recycled cotton.

See, you aren’t changing what you are about, you’re just focusing on what you can give potential customers that they care about – and making it super obvious to them.

The trick here is to think of one person at a time – and describe them as actual people, down to the details. Because when your people realize that you know them this well, they are going to listen to you when you say, “you should buy this…”

Your “Heathers” should be based off actual people that would buy your screen printed shirts, not faceless demographics you kinda sorta know something about… which means you have REAL ammo to use in your marketing.

Now It’s Your Turn

Let me break it down for you with this exercise. Bust out that Buyer Persona Template you downloaded earlier and get ready to fill in the deets with a real person:

Remember, you may have 2 or 3 different buyer personas, and that’s okay! Not all your personas will fit under one description, and even the ones that do, don’t have to have every little detail in common. The whole point of the exercise is to get you to start thinking about more specifics and values rather than generalities and demographics.

How do you know what these detailed and personal specifics are?

The best way to get to know your target audience is to talk to someone who has already bought from you.

Guesswork, GONE.

Contact some of your more loyal customers and ask if they have time for a brief 20 minute phone call.

Here are some example questions to ask during your interview:


  1. Were you comparing my product to any from other brands? If so, why did you choose mine?
  2. What’s your favorite part of (your product)?
  3. How does my product make you feel?
  4. Have you had issues with this kind of product in the past?
  5. What kind of things do you like to do for fun?
  6. What does the perfect day look like to you, and how does it make you feel?


Yes, some of these questions are cheesy as heck, and seem unrelated, but if you’re going to get down to the nitty gritty of what they value and how you can get them that, you’re gonna have to ask.

PS. You can make these questions more specific or tweak them depending on your products.

Hey, but what if you haven’t had any customers yet, or you can’t get them on the phone?

Honestly, nothing can replace the unexpected, deep insights you get from having an actual conversation with someone, BUT some people are phone-shy.

That’s okay. Survey them!

Sometimes a quick survey they can fill out whenever, wherever is more appealing to people – so it’s okay to give them that option if they won’t jump on a call.

You can ask them the same kinds of questions as phone interviews above (you just can’t do follow up questions based on their answers).

TIP: Keep your survey short enough (long surveys are major turn offs!) between 3-7 questions. Google Docs has the “Google Forms” option to create pro looking surveys really easily. You can always just email the person with the questions too though!


Okay so now that you have the specific and detailed ammo necessary, what I want you to do is print out your buyer personas. All of them. Tape them, pin em, glitter glue them, use whatever you’ve got to post them up on your wall where you work.

These are the details you need to reference for EVERYTHING in your business.

Posting on Instagram? Buyer Personas.

Writing a product description? Buyer Personas!

Not sure what kind of giveaway to do? BUYER PERSONAS!

No matter what images you’re taking, what you are writing, or promoting, first stop and ask yourself,

“What would my target audience think? Will this make them stop and think, ‘Wow, this totally relates to me’”?

If the answer is yes, then your marketing has the foundation to seriously kick butt. If the answer is no, or you aren’t sure, there’s probably something a little off – something you can change to relate to them better.


Get in their head, and they won’t be able to get you out of theirs ;)



Rachel Daley
Rachel is the resident Content Fairy at MadeFreshly, the ecommerce platform that makes your passion pay off. Click here to get her actionable tips and inspiration for entrepreneurs every week!