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Understanding Your Audience

The basic premise of every business is to sell goods and/or services to consumers. In order to be successful and profitable, businesses have to know who their target audience is. This is what makes marketing such an essential component of every company. Marketing is the process of creating and communicating the value of a good or service in order to promote it to the desired market. In other words, marketing is about convincing the right people that what your company is offering is something of value that they need. If the desire for the offering is strong enough, then consumers will buy your product. Capturing the right audience and understanding their preferences is so critical for companies that they will spend hundreds, thousands, millions, and even billions of dollars on market research and advertising.

Marketing continues to be one of the most popular majors at OSU. According to the U.S. News & World Report, marketing/marketing management was the sixth most declared major amongst undergraduates. A large proportion of you reading this are likely to be marketing majors or minors. With this in mind, I wanted to gain insight from a professional in the field. I interviewed Lesley Horstman, a 2013 OSU alumna. She majored in marketing and was an active member and volunteer committee member in UBWA.

Marketing is a multifaceted industry that involves many different elements. Initially after graduation, Lesley began her career in marketing at Kimball Midwest, a distributor of maintenance and repair products. She spent 4 years there doing marketing promotions. This included “product promotions for the sales team, tracking and analyzing promotions, presenting at sales meetings, and collaborating with design teams”. Next, she changed industries and worked for Henry Schein Animal Health (now known as Covertrus), a veterinary distributor. Here the focus was on “blog writing, communicating promotions, designing marketing collateral, social media campaign assistance, and creating personalized homepage banners”. As of 2022, Lesley has worked with Cardinal Health as a “downstream marketing manager for non-acute markets, which is primarily ambulatory surgery centers and physician offices”. Her job entails “designing and updating marketing materials, planning for involvement in industry conferences and trade shows, strategic marketing planning, and engagement with sales teams”. Even though Lesley continued to work in marketing throughout her career, her work and experiences were very different. Marketing is such a broad term that manifests in many different ways. A marketing job at one company is vastly different to a marketing job at another.

The differences in all these marketing jobs reflect different priorities for each company. These companies don’t have the same target audiences and markets, so it makes sense that their marketing strategies would differ. Lesley explains that identifying and understanding your target audience is “vital for how you go to market and promote your business”. You have to be in tune with “your consumers’ needs, pain points, and demographics”. You have to get inside the minds of your consumers, so you can “market to them effectively, and in turn serve their needs”. In order to identify your target audience, you need to do market research and analysis. This is done by “looking at data trends and identifying customer personas”. Conducting survey and reporting data is also important to determine consumer preferences. To reiterate the main idea, “you can’t just market your product and services without knowing who you are marketing to. Messaging needs to be tailored to your target audience, so you can reach them effectively”.

Marketing is simply one component that plays into the promotion of a product to a target audience. It ultimately ties into a company’s overall brand. Branding and messages need to be not only relevant to your audience but also relatable. The brand should convey “who your business is”. In other words, your brand should “speak to your audience”. Now, obviously, no one expects you to be conducting your own market research or developing a brand as college students; however, being aware and educating yourself on the different aspects of marketing can give you a head start. Lesley found UBWA useful for networking, building connections, and receiving helpful career advice. Use the resources available to you and talk to others. We can all benefit by learning from and educating each other.



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