Finding your target audience in China - don't go at it blindfolded

Posted by Mike Golden

Dec 16, 2016 3:03:00 PM

Marketing in China doesn't have to be a stab in the dark, yet many marketing departments become overwhelmed quickly, and as a result, their message falls flat on the wrong audience. Persona mapping is an integral part of marketing in China, and there are several key questions about your target audience that you'll want to answer before moving forward.

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We run into a lot of China marketers who have trouble figuring out their target audience. Usually the idea is too broad: in consumer marketing we always hear things like “moms,” “rich Chinese,” “everyone in Shanghai between 21-55.” In the China B2B marketing field it’s usually something like: “everyone in the company: C-level, purchasing, sales and engineering. We need them all onboard.”

As a result the marketing department becomes overwhelmed and starts firing randomly with their marketing shotgun, hoping to hit one of the targets. Guess what? It doesn't really work, and then the Sales division blames Marketing for not bringing any qualified leads. If you are building content, how can you possibly know what to write or create if you don't really know what your target audience is interested in?

We’ve talked a lot about building Personas and Persona Mapping before– a popular part of inbound marketing that can be applied to most of your marketing efforts. At a very basic level, we are trying to understand the target audience needs, goals, pain points and preferences.

Needs – what do they need in their daily lives?

Goals – what do they want from life, from work?

Pain Points – what is stopping them from achieving their goals?

Preferences – what channels do they use for information? What types of content do they gravitate towards? Who influences them and how?

Putting this all together, we create a sketch of our target audience, and try to identify common pain points and preferences. Then, we can start to think about what types of content we can create that solve their pain points, and help them achieve their goals. The target audience is the center of your marketing – not your product or brand. This is the heart of modern content marketing, and it is just as effective in B2B marketing as it is for consumer marketing, in China and beyond.

How to realistically develop Personas?

Interviews – talking directly to the target audience, and with the sales and marketing team to understand the people they are trying to reach.

Workshops – workshops are a wonderful way to deep dive into the issues and flush out the Persona map.

Research – going backwards from the channels and content to understand the types of people interested in the content and the channels they prefer.

We’ve even used advanced market research techniques – factor analysis – to find the different levers that most influence the target audience. A lot of these research techniques do not necessarily require a big budget – but you should always be careful about how you set up the research so that you don't end up with empty results.

Putting it all together forms the basis of a targeted, effective marketing campaign. In digital marketing we have wonderful tools to analyze and really understand the customer journey, and this feeds right off of the target persona process. What techniques can you apply in your marketing?

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Topics: China Marketing