A few months ago during a meeting, I asked a prospective client who his target audience was. His answer was, “Earth.” For many new business owners, this may seem desirable, because you’ve just spent an exorbitant amount of time and money planning and creating your business. You need customers and you need them now!
Does narrowing your audience to a specific target audience seem constraining to you? If this is the case, it will help to think of it in terms of money. The more people you want to reach, the more money you will spend. Wouldn’t it be better to reach the ideal person than hundreds or thousands of the wrong people?
Whether you are just launching a business or have been in business for years, it’s important to keep a clear focus on your target audience. Creating a smaller group of audiences, than say ‘Earth’, allows you to form deeper relationships with your audience, and communicate and engage with them in a more meaningful way. To get started, answer the following five critical questions about your audience.
1. What is your value proposition or the problem you solve?
Begin by clearly defining the value you offer from your product or services. What makes you unique in the marketplace? What problem do you solve for your audience? I was reminded by a colleague last week about an IBM strategy. He recommends you think of your audience in terms of emotions and how your product or service addresses these emotions. Can your product stop an anxiety, worry, or frustration in their life? How do you make their life easier or better?
2. What does your ideal customer look like?
Now that you can tell the story of what you offer, determine who would benefit most from your product or service. You may have a few different types of customers who may benefit, and each audience will need to be addressed with unique messaging.
Within each market define the demographics of the group: (Demographic Information)
- Marital Status
- Family Status
- Income Level
- Education Level
- Occupation types
Dig deeper and really get to know your audience: (Psychographic Information)
- What are their likes and dislikes?
- Where do they get their information? Media, friends, colleagues?
- Who are their influencers?
- What types of social media do they use? What magazines or blogs do they read?
- What are their interests or hobbies?
- What do they value most in life?
Exercise: When you post on your own personal social media channels, do you ever consider your friend list and think of the people who will most enjoy your post and those who probably won’t like it? This is audience segmentation. You know your friends well and can probably answer most of the questions above about them. Get to know your target audience the same way.
3. What drives your audience to buy?
The psychology of sales once had us convinced that everyone could be talked in to buying at any given point using various sales tactics. Today, however, consumers prefer to do business with someone they trust and with a company they already have a relationship with, or at the very least, the company was referred by a trusted friend. Sales has shifted from “the pitch” to “convince and convert” and much of this can be done through content.
In your market research, seek the reasons that generally make your audience buy what you offer. Is it an everyday need or more of an emergency? Keep in mind who the decision-maker is in your audience. For example, if your ideal audience is young families, statistics and consumer buying trends will be very important. Marketing to Women reports that women are the decision-makers in 85 percent of households when it comes to consumer goods. Do you know this type of information about your audience?
4. Do they already buy your product or service?
If your product is already in sharp demand, chances are your audience already owns what you’re selling. This presents a new set of challenges because they may already have built trust with another company. In these cases, the unique features or services your company offers will be very important.
5. What has changed about your target audience in the last year?
Number five is important because it requires ongoing evaluation and monitoring. Once you’ve defined an ideal audience(s), it’s important to remain current on industry and market trends. Include extensive competitive analysis in this step to ensure that you maintain your market advantage.
Remember step four above? Your competition is busy pointing out their unique features to your valued customers. By closely monitoring your audience, you will identify opportunities for improvement and ensure you stay relevant to your audience.
How much time do you spend researching your audience? What benefit has this provided for your business? Share your experience in the comments!