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Know Your Audience: A Battleship-inspired Strategy

Know your audience: a battleship-inspired strategy

As a kid, my first real exposure to strategy was in the game Battleship. It’s a simple game with easy setup and rules, but what I liked about it was that you’re really playing the other person more so than you are the game itself. If I knew my opponent, I could predict how they might think or act and, therefore, set myself up to better anticipate their moves. 

Fast forward thirty years (I know, I’m really dating myself), and it turns out that knowing your audience is a key part of any strategy, including digital marketing strategy. You should apply this simple but powerful principle of knowing your audience as the foundation for creating comprehensive digital marketing strategies. 

In this article, I cover how knowing your audience can positively impact how and where you spend your marketing efforts to grow your business well.  

Aligning Digital Marketing with Business Goals

Whether you’re a business owner or a marketing professional, you have business goals — and sometimes they change. Changes to business goals can happen for many reasons, but here are some of the most common we see across businesses big and small: 

Why business goals may change
  • Market Conditions: changes in consumer preferences, competition, technology and even economic conditions impact business goals.
  • Internal Changes: company restructuring, acquisitions,and transitions of leadership can bring new thought leadership that welcomes new direction.
  • Regulatory Changes: if you’re in an industry impacted by regulations, you know well that you have little to no control over mandated changes and how they can impact your business.

When change is needed, knowing your audience is critical to staying at the forefront of the market. Some of the changes may be educational, while others may require a new position for your company or the introduction of a new product or service. In any of these scenarios, you’ll start with the who and determine next actions from there. Having well-defined personas will be endlessly helpful as you look to launch campaigns. Knowing not only who your audience is, but also where they are will be the winning combination in spending your efforts on the right marketing channels. 

Tailoring Your Messaging

As a consumer yourself, you know when you’re receiving marketing messages that are meant for you and ones that totally miss the mark. I remember after graduation getting masters degree programs sent to my inbox left and right that didn’t make any sense for me other than the fact that I had a bachelors degree. Likewise, I remember when I got engaged. My ads and emails were all about wedding planning, honeymoons, registries, etc. 

You can only tailor your messaging to your various audiences if you know them well enough. Common things you’ll want to know are: 

  • Job title
  • Industry
  • Income level
  • Family status
  • Hobbies

This is a starting point, but also understanding likes, dislikes, key concerns and motivators, and even where they find information is critical to getting this right. 

For example, if a new regulation impacts engineers in your target audience, it’d be great to be able to communicate with them directly so they know you’re aware and have adjusted your products or services to meet their new needs. It’d be a little silly if you also targeted the architects and design professionals in your audience who are not impacted by this new regulation. Pushing an irrelevant message becomes noise to them and causes disengagement while getting the right message to your engineers inspires confidence and connection. 


Creating Custom Content

Piggybacking on the idea of tailored messaging, creating custom content is a high-value marketing strategy that requires an in-depth understanding of your audience. Custom content is content you create for a very specific purpose. Your content should aim to: 

In order to address any of the above, you’d have to really know who you’re talking to and care about the things they care about, too. Your audience isn’t looking to skim fluff pieces. It’s important to offer up truly valuable information that helps them on their journey. If they connect with your content, chances are much higher that they’ll dig further, subscribe, or even reach out to speak to someone – your ultimate marketing win! 

Establishing that you understand an industry or niche so well that you’re able to speak to the individualized needs of the people who work in it ultimately builds confidence with that segmented audience. They’ll feel seen and heard and begin looking to you as an expert – all because you took the time to know them before you started. 

Continuous Improvement through Audience Insights 

Once you’ve articulated who you’re talking to, you can align your business goals, tailor your messaging and create custom content — among other things! You now have the opportunity to analyze performance metrics to identify areas for optimization. The value you gain through audience insights is truly immeasurable. Collecting feedback and monitoring audience behavior to test what you know about them will drive better relationships and better results. 

Collecting feedback

And please know, you’re going to win some and you’re going to lose some; it’s the nature of marketing. If it were black and white and easy, everyone would be wildly successful. True success comes from these micro measurements along the way that help you to check in with yourself and your audience to ensure you’re hitting the mark for them. You then have the opportunity to adjust as you learn more which will improve your results. 

This level of detail and caring will shine through, allowing you to stay ahead of evolving customer preferences and market trends. Your audience will appreciate and recognize your efforts when you continue providing them with what they need. 


Hopefully you’re encouraged to lean into knowing your audience as the foundation of your digital marketing efforts. It’s so critically important when it comes to balancing priorities with budgets and channels, and ultimately sets you up for success. If your interest has peaked or you’re already doing some of this but need to get more organized, I have some resources to recommend to you. 

Check out this introduction to creating buyer personas to gain a better understanding of the value of creating personas (aka: audiences). If you’re ready to dive in to fully define personas for your business, here’s a full guide to creating buyers personas that will be helpful to you. 

Enjoy the process of getting to know your audiences and being able to care about their needs more deeply. I’m confident you’ll find direct benefit to your efforts and you’ll drive stronger results for your business. 

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Cortney Ayers
About Cortney Ayers:

Cortney Ayers is a digital marketing professional with a big passion for helping people meet their goals both professionally and personally. She is highly regarded as resourceful and organized, which shows in her love for planning.

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