Why You Market to People and Not Your Customer Database


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They obviously didn’t know who they emailed.

We’ve all had this reaction to a spam email that’s missed the mark. Sometimes it’s funny, but it’s mostly annoying. It’s wasting your time because you have no intention of taking action after reading it, but depending on how good the spammer was, you have to read it first before deleting it. If you’re the spammer, you don’t care if the majority of your recipients are the right ones, because as long as a few are, you’re happy.

As a marketer or business owner, however, it’s a different story.

You want your messages to be opened, read, and consumed by the people you send them to. It could be an email newsletter, a white paper, or a social media message, and it doesn’t matter. You want to create such a great experience that your intended market eventually becomes a valued customer.

That’s why you create a marketing database full of information about your customers and prospects. You want to know as much about them as possible so you can create the perfect marketing message for them, so they have no choice but to buy your products.

So, why aren’t your marketing messages getting opened, shared, and consumed by your audience? Why aren’t they booking demo calls or buying your products from their favorite retailers?

Well, it’s because you’ve been marketing to accounts, companies, or demographics, instead of the people behind them. You forgot about the employees who recommend your B2B products to their bosses and decision makers. You ignored the people who share your content online with their network and colleagues. It’s not the account or demographic that buys your products; it’s people.

Effective marketing strategies appeal to people and make a meaningful human connection. Your messages have to be authentic, resonate with people in various situations, and appeal to their emotions. Otherwise, you’re talking to no one.

Your human marketing will engage more deeply with people, create more positive customer experiences, and improve conversations. Here are four reasons why you should make your marketing more people-centric.

It’s People Who Influence Buying Decisions

Whether you’re marketing to a B2C audience or a B2B one, you should always be marketing to people. It’s people who’ll buy your products or mention it to their boss or the decision maker.

Photo by Canva Studio from Pexels

That’s why Slack, the collaboration and messaging tool, aims their marketing message at the people who work in their target market. They know it’s the employees who usually push the decision makers to purchase a subscription. So they amplify the voices of everyday users in their marketing to get their attention.

Their social media feeds are full of messages employees relate to immediately. Their blog, called Several People Are Typing, is full of posts about the people doing the work at Slack or with Slack, creating a deep sense of engagement with their readers.

It’s People Who Listen When You Speak Directly to Them

Engagement is the critical element here. You want to create messages that speak directly to them, so they take action. That’s where personas can help.

Most businesses and marketers develop buyer personas, but we’re talking about marketing personas, in this case. You want to know who the target person is who uses your products and speak directly to them.

DivvyHQ does this well by targeting content marketing managers and those in charge of running content teams and developing strategies. By targeting only that group of people and excluding those who fall outside of it, Divvy can create messages that will resonate intimately with people and create a more engaged audience, as a result.

Quote from Divvy co-founder

As co-founder Brody Dorland explained in a post on the Divvy blog, “It’s valuable to obtain and keep the attention of people who are in your target audience, it can be almost equally valuable to avert those who are not.”

It’s the People That’ll Multiply Your Marketing Efforts

In the previous quote, Dorland used the term “target audience.” Many marketers use the term audience and market interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing.

  • An audience is a group of people who gather willingly to read, view, listen, or consume your content. They do it because they like your content and want more of it.
  • A market is a group of consumers that would buy your product. They can be individuals, groups, companies, and more.

It’s this second meaning that most marketers are referring to when they say “target audience.” An audience is a more engaged group of people than a market or potential buyer pool. They’re more like fans, in the sense of people who follow a sports team or movie genre diligently. Audiences tend to be more passionate about what they like and love talking about it.

Photo by anna-m. w. from Pexels

Marketers that think of their audience in this sense will create a deeper engagement level with people. Your audience comes for that first piece of valuable information and stays for the valuable content you’ll publish in the future.

It’s like when you sign up for the latest streaming app. You subscribed to watch a new series, but you stay because they’ll deliver more entertainment in the future, even though you don’t know what it is.

An enthusiastic and engaged audience will stick around, and multiply your marketing efforts significantly. They’ll help you and your brand differentiate itself from your competitors in parallel to your primary marketing campaigns. Engaged audiences help you develop better customers by reinforcing your messages organically and sincerely.

It’s People Who Should Dictate Your Marketing Strategy

While people want to hear about your product’s features and specs, that’s not what they end up sharing with their friends and family. They share the tweet about your newest product bundle, where you mentioned a blanket fort.

Or the mini Choose Your Own Adventure game that explains your product’s main benefits and encourages downloads of your latest research report.

Zendesk has created an engaging and effective marketing strategy that uses casual and informal language to encourage views, clicks, and downloads. They know that people who discover funny and entertaining content are more likely to share it with their networks. People respond well to funny and casual, so Zendesk makes sure to include it wherever they can. They use different images, tactics, and content formats based on the marketing channel and where people are in the customer journey.

You can do the same with your marketing campaigns by laying out the customer journey for your products and then aligning your marketing to each phase. Use a variety of messages, formats, and channels to engage with different people. Each group responds to different messages, so you’ll need a good mix of them to ensure you engage them all.

When in the thick of a marketing campaign or sales push, it’s easy to forget about the people behind the accounts. The people reading or sharing become numbers or accounts, and we start treating them as such.

By remembering the people behind it all and make them the focus of our efforts, you’ll create deeper relationships that last longer than it takes to retweet a message. You’ll convert targets into audiences and create more positive experiences for everyone.

Syed Balkhi
Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site. With over 10 years of experience, he’s the leading WordPress expert in the industry. You can learn more about Syed and his portfolio of companies by following him on his social media networks.


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