Without customers your business is just an idea waiting to hatch. Without customers your business with surely fail. So it is imperative to understand your customers thoroughly whether your company is new or established.
Your customers should determine just about every aspect of your business. This includes how you market, what you market, your growth strategy, the names of your products or services, and even how much you charge.
The types of people who are most likely to become your customers are called your target audience. Oftentimes businesses fail to dig deep in the early development stages to clearly define their target audience. Sometimes established companies neglect to reevaluate their audience as the company grows. These are huge mistakes.
Without a clear understanding of your audience, it is hard to find success marketing, make sales, and build a culture around your brand. You’ll spend more time speaking to people who are indifferent instead of nurturing those who are interested.
Using blanket statements such as “my product is for men ages 25 to 35” is simply not enough. Why? Because every man who is 25 to 35 years old does not have the same experiences, lifestyles, values, or interests. In this article we will teach you how to define and refine your target audience to help strengthen your branding and marketing to build a successful business.
Defining your target audience
To successfully define your target audience you need to know who they are, what they are seeking, and why they are seeking it. While it may sound obvious, it takes deep thought and research to get it right.
You can start by seeing who your competitor’s customers are and how they are reaching them. If you have a new product or service, spend a little time browsing through Google to see who is asking for something similar to what you are building. Question based websites such as Quora are a great resource this kind of research.
Doing audience research often maximizes your marketing efforts and helps you to build a solid brand. Use your research to create clear, concrete definitions of your audience to focus your efforts and build a connection with them.
The “who” portion of your target audience is the first thing you need to determine to build your business. You will use it to understand what your audience is looking for and why.
Your audience can be broken down into many groups: age, location, gender, background, income, and interests (just to name a few). A well-defined target audience is a combination of three or more of these groups.
In example, if you are opening a local mixed martial arts gym, your target audience could be:
Men ages 25 to 35 in the Denver area that are physically fit and interested in learning mixed martial arts.
The example target audience includes gender, age, location, and interest. Defining a target audience in this way allows you to understand where exactly to find potential customers and how to interact with them.
After you understand who the target audience is, you can research what they respond to. This will heavily influence your company’s language, visuals, and marketing channels. Creating a company and product name that appeals to your audience helps generate genuine interest and build culture around your brand.
You also use the “who” to figure out why your audience is seeking a product similar to yours. Understanding the “why” helps your company successfully fill the needs of your target audience and anticipate other needs to come.
The next step in defining your target audience is the “what” portion. This step is important because it helps you focus on the uniqueness of your new product or service in a way your target audience can appreciate.
There are two questions to ask yourself when defining the “what” portion of your target audience:
- What exactly is your target audience looking for that is different than what your competitors offer?
- What is important to your target audience?
Spending some time answering these two questions will help you determine many of your company’s core principles including your value statement, mission, and how you will separate yourself from your competition.
Knowing your “what” helps to focus your offerings to your client. This will be paramount in the development of your company for getting investors, forming your brand, and creating a standard for consistency.
In example, in the previously referenced mixed martial art gym, your “what” for your target audience could be:
A 24-hour fitness facility with retired world renounced MMA fighting trainers.
This “what” statement includes two value propositions that separate the business from the competition. Some of the competitor’s gyms may be only open during certain hours. Or maybe they lack trainers with in-ring experience. Either way, with your defined “what” you are able to articulate exactly what separates your company from others.
The final step to defining your target audience is your “why”. We’ve all experienced it. You tell someone about your dreams of starting a new company and they respond “Why?”
Why is your product or service necessary? Why will your audience value what you are offering? Why will your audience trust you for their products or services? Hmm, good question.
These questions have stumped even the most serial entrepreneurs. Finding your “why” is a difficult process. However, you can develop your “why” by asking yourself these two questions:
- What motivates your target audience to buy your product or service?
- What concerns could your target audience have about your product or service?
Developing a clear understanding of why people are looking for a product like yours and what could make them hesitate when purchasing it will help your company determine how to position itself in the market.
Your “why” will help to create strategies to combat any challenges that you can foresee that would prevent you from being able to make a sale. It will also allow you to ease your audience’s foregoing concerns through your marketing and presentation.
In example, the “why” statement for our mixed martial arts gym could be:
To create an accessible place to learn multiple fighting disciplines from the professionals.
This “why” statement strengthens the value proposed in the “what”. Placing focus on the accessibility, expertise, and staff of the gym helps to persuade the audience that your company is the best choice. It also helps to ease doubts that may arise in the first encounter with your company.
Keeping up with your audience
People evolve daily. Once your audience is defined it is important to put measures in place to keep up with what is important to them. There are many tools that you may use to track your audience and their interests. Here are some of our favorites.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool for your website. It allows you to monitor who is viewing your website, for how long, and what pages they are viewing the most.
Google’s Audience section helps to understand your audience further. There are tabs that break down your viewers by their demographic, interests, location, and behavior for you.
Utilizing this tool allows you to watch the patterns and changes in your target audience to use for your marketing and product development. It will also be a good indicator of the type of content that is doing well and when you should consider pivoting.
Quora and Reddit are both question-based websites that allow members to ask and answer a broad range of topics without much filtering. These sites are great for searching about how your customers are speaking about your company, what they are asking about your company, and how people are responding.
This tool is great for reputation management and designing your new campaigns. You can use it to manage the shortcomings of your current brand and leverage them when rebranding or expanding.
These sites are also great for competitor research because the feedback is raw and unfiltered. You can see what your competitors are lacking, and use it to strengthen your offerings to your audience. You can also see your competitor’s strengths so that you can position your company in a more strategic manner.
Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are full of “trending topics” that show what is popular in the media at the time. These platforms, and others, are also equipped with searchable hashtags (#) that can be used for research as well. On Instagram you can see the number of posts made with a particular hashtag, while LinkedIn allows you to search hashtags in posts and articles.
Knowing what’s trending with your audience can help with your content creation and strengthening your social connection. People prefer to buy from brands that share the same values as they do. Use social media to align your brand with causes that are important to your audience to build an emotional connection with them.
Google Adwords is used to create paid advertisements for your company. It has many tools for planning your marketing including keyword planners and forecasting.
The keyword planning tool allows you to search keyword trends by date, volume, and location. This tools is a great asset not only when seeing what exactly people are looking for within your industry but also when doing search engine optimization (SEO) for your company.
Brandwatch Audiences is a paid service that allows your company to do social media listening from a defined target audience. This tool allows you to search your target audience to help discover their other interests, demographics, and favorite social channels.
This is a great tool for campaign planning, market research, competitor benchmarking, and reputation management. Understanding how your audience likes to spend their time creates a channel for engagement.
Your audience is the most important part of your company. Spending time defining your target audience clearly will help you have an understanding of where to start with your company and how to grow. You can use the defined target audience for creating campaigns, brand visuals, and even events for your company.
Creating target audience profiles for your business will help to develop your company with the customer in mind. Strong, concise profiles will help to structure your brand strategy, business plan, and marketing plans. None, and we mean none, of your business development should be done without this crucial step.
Knowing the habits of your target audience will help you to grow with them, reach them on their favorite channels, and speak to them in a language that they will appreciate and understand. And as they evolve, your company will be ready to evolve with them.
It’s never too late to reevaluate your company’s market. Successful companies such as Google (formerly Backrub) and Pepsi-Cola (formerly “Brad’s Drink”) understood the power of changing your name to reach your audience. Pivoting to cater to your audience insures that your company stays relevant and attractive to the customer.
Full service agencies and business consultants can help you strategically define your target audience. At TC Creatives, a defined target audience is the foundation of all of the work we do for our clients. We match our clients with their customers through research and planning. Reach out to us to get your business matched with the right customers to maximize your growth.