How to Reach Your Target Audience by Not Marketing to Them

Imagine this; you’ve got a piece of content or even a product and you want to promote it but you’re struggling to get more eyeballs on it, get more shares, more traffic or more sales.

You know where your audience hangs out but marketing to them directly just isn’t working for you.

Sound familiar?

In the following post I’m going to show you how to reach your target audience by not targeting them in a straight forward step-by-step process.

It’s easier than you may think.

If you’re directly targeting your audience and it’s working for you then that’s great, but I encourage you to give this a shot because you may just find that what I talk about will extend your reach significantly.

Why bother?

Before I go any further, it’s important to highlight exactly how this is going to benefit you so you know how important this is.

By following what I am going to talk about in this post you will get more of the following:

  • More social shares
  • More followers
  • More comments
  • More editorial given links to your site
  • More traffic and better rankings in search

And the big one… a return on your investment, whether you’ve invested time or money, this will help you get a return.

Identify your target audience

Before you do anything you need to know who you want to be reading your content or buying your product and as the title rightly says, this is all about reaching your target audience without marketing to them directly.

You will most likely know who your target audience is, but if not, then now is the time to find out.

You need to start off by thinking; who would benefit from my content? Will it help solve problems for someone?

The best way to really get to the core is to develop a customer persona, this will really help you understand who they are, what they do, what media they consume, what they like to do, what there problems are etc.

You will need to conduct research and possibly do surveys and interviews to make sure that this set of data is 100% but if you truly understand your market you can make educated guesses if you don’t have the resources to go out and start interviewing people.

Although I would recommend that you survey your existing audience and conduct whatever research you can. Give Poll Daddy or Survey Monkey a shot – it’s as easy as just putting some questions together and putting it out where your target audience is.

If you’ve got a mailing list then send the survey directly over to them.

Here are a few things you’ll need to include in your customer persona:

  • Who are they? What’s their background?
  • What about demographics? Gender/Age/Geographical location
  • Do they have any particular challenges?
  • What are their goals?

You can leave it at that or you can get even more in depth, but that’s up to you, there’s a lot of information floating around the web on how to create these personas – like the one at Hubspot.

They also have some great examples that you can find here.

Identify who influences them

Now that you have identified your target audience it’s time to identify who has the power to influence their actions and decision making process.

When I talk about influencers, for the purpose of this post I am talking specifically about bloggers, not because there aren’t other individuals or organisations that influence people’s decisions but because 86% of influencers are in fact bloggers according to a report published by Technorati.

Influencers will have a network of followers that trust their advice and their opinions and make decisions based on that but it’s important to remember that some influencers could also be part of your target audience.

There will also be cross over between experts, friends and the media.

Map of Influence

Here’s an example of how this works:

Let’s say that you’re launching a WordPress theme or plugin that would help solve a problem that everyone with WordPress has, maybe improving security for example.

So now, you’d need to ask yourself – who is influencing the decision making process of WordPress users?

Here are a few names that come to mind; Joost de Valk, Oliver Dale, Devesh Sharma, Ileane Smith and Ana Hoffman.

This part takes some research but once you think of the niches or industries that influential bloggers fit into, the rest falls in to place.

People often makes this part complicated but it doesn’t have to be – just look at the blogs or bloggers that people are talking about.

Finding top lists of blogs can be an easy way to start but a mention on a single list isn’t always enough so dig through a few more lists and you’ll have an idea of who has the most influence.

More ways to find influencers

There is a tool called InkyBee that can be incredibly useful here, I talked about it in a recent post here. In the post I explain exactly how you can use it to find influencers.

You can also use Triberr to find influencers across a range of topics, (as a side note, there are some great features in Triberr that I wrote more about here).

Pro tip: you may feel the urge to exclude a blog/blogger simply because they don’t have as many comments as everyone else or as many social followers.

BUT – big numbers may look good, but they can often have no bearing on a bloggers ability to influence others.

Here’s an example, some people have 150,000 Twitter followers and others have 15,000 followers yet have the ability to influence more people in a greater way, so just bear this in mind.

“Influence – it’s not just about the size of your network or how many people hear what you say – it’s about your capacity to impact the actions and opinions of others.” – Darren Rowse,

Market your content directly to them

By now you will have found a number of influencers to promote your content to (or whatever the hell it is that you want to promote).

So, how do you do it?

It’s easier than you may think:

Link out to them in blog posts

It’s crazy to think what effect just linking out to someone can make but what about if you were to make someone the focal point of your blog post and tell them about it?

I was watching a video that Adrienne Smith recorded (you can find it here) about how to find links back to your site using Google Analytics.

To my surprise, my site and Dino Dogan’s site were both used as an example in the video.

I then went and shared the post across all of my social networks.

If you can get influencers involved directly with your post then that can work even better, you can see a great example right here by checking out my group interview on reader engagement.

Retweet their updates or mention them on Twitter, G+ and Facebook

This is all about getting on the radar of influencers and the more time you do it the better.

Don’t just share someone’s post without mentioning their Twitter username.

Even if you don’t try and engage in any other way, you can eventually get most people to come over and check out your Twitter profile if you mention them enough times.

Mentions on Google+ and Facebook can work very well too, but these aren’t used as often as Twitter so you could potentially get better results.

And remember –

“The true power of social media is not to reach your own followers, but to reach the followers of influencers in your market.”

Feel free to quote me ;)

Leave engaging comments on their blog

Another great way to get in front of an influencer is by commenting on their blog, that’s providing that they actually respond to comments.

There are some that don’t respond to comments, it’s not great for user engagement but I understand that there are only so many hours in a day and there are other ways to engage with your audience.

A word of warning though, I said ‘engaging comments’ for a reason, but to be 100% clear, don’t think about commenting and just saying ‘nice post’.

If you do, then, well – you need a slap!

The purpose of this isn’t to just get a link, it’s to make you more visible and get on the influencers radar.

Setting up a Gravatar account and uploading a personal photo of you will make a big difference here.

If you’ve not come across this before then I’ll explain, Gravatar is a service setup by the creators of WordPress – it allows you to setup an avatar that is automatically pulled in by a number of other services (namely, WordPress sites, but it doesn’t stop there).

Offer to guest post on their blog

Guest posting is typically associated with link building, and while the reason why I’m suggesting you guest post isn’t because of link building it’s important that you remember that the number and quality of backlinks your site and its individual pages/posts have do have a strong correlation towards positive rankings.

The reason I am suggesting this is because it’s still a powerful way to immediately get directly in front of your target audience.

You need to think about this as a way to make you and blog or brand more visible in the market place.

From an SEO perspective, it’s true that the first few links you get from a domain will be the most powerful and any you get after that will not pass as much value but remember that the more times you have a post published, the more visible you will be to your target audience.

It’s important to remember that the majority of an influencer’s audience won’t read every one of their posts, especially since more and more people are following a selection of different influencer’s blogs, rather than just 1 or 2.

There’s not enough hours in the day for us to read every post that comes through our RSS feed reader, hits out inbox or is shared with us on Twitter or Google+.

By contributing to these influential blogs more than once you’re exposing yourself to a larger audience.

If you can time your guest posts to go live within a similar period of time then that will have a profound affect and immediately increase your circle of influence.

Nurture, nurture, nurture 

There may be a point where you become so time poor that you can’t keep up with nurturing so many connections with influencers, which is understandable but remember that the more you connect with influencers, the more influence you will end up having yourself.


You have just had a crash course in how to use influencer marketing at the tactical level.

You can use this to promote absolutely anything, not just your blog content.

My aim with this post was to make the process of promoting whatever you want as easy as possible because for some people, this influence marketing thing conjures up thoughts of some elaborate strategy or series of tactics that are incredibly complex.

The truth is that it can be complex, but it doesn’t have to be.

It’s also true that there are a lot of different ways that you can do something; for example, there are more ways to market to influencers than I’ve listed here.

The tactics I have listed have been chosen because they are something that everyone can do.

What tactics can you add to the list?


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