The performance potential of any marketing initiative your small business invests in is limited until you know who your target audience is, what they care about and how to reach them.
Here are some simple tips all small business owners can use to pinpoint their correct target audience.
Have vision for your product, service or message. Resist the urge to cram several messages or value propositions into one postcard, social media post, letter, phone call or advertisement. If you can’t identify the one or two reasons your business is unique and worth a prospect’s consideration, they won’t be able to, either.
Before you identify your target audience, define the unique features and benefits your business can offer. From there, you can start to understand which audiences are most likely to respond to your brand. Consider these questions:
- What problems do your product(s) or service(s) solve?
- How is your business different than alternative solutions?
- How would you describe your business in 10 words or less?
Be willing to walk away. Truly pinpointing your target audience requires you being willing to accept you can’t be a solution for everyone — nor will you try. While that may, in fact, mean that your message doesn’t connect with or reach all of your potential customer population, your ability to speak to the values and beliefs your target audience holds dear will (ideally) mean you build a loyal customer base that will stick with your business for the long haul, and refer it to others.
Eventually, your business message may appeal to additional customers whom you didn’t originally identify as your target. That doesn’t mean they can’t buy from you, but you’ll be armed with a distinct message and brand identity that won’t change — even as you grow.
Write their story. Once you have a sense for what makes your business unique, determine what kind of person might respond to your message. Start by defining basic demographics such as the age, gender, location, occupation and average income level of your target audience. Then, consider psychological profiles:
- What types of magazines, TV shows, social media networks, podcasts, radio stations and websites do they engage with regularly?
- What’s a typical “day in the life”?
- What obstacles do they face on a fairly regular basis (and how do they currently overcome them)?
- What are their hobbies, interests, values and future goals?
Write three to five personality profiles that represent your target audience; create a short story about what they do for a living, where they live, what they care about and what types of interests or issues fill their thoughts. When you craft your marketing messages and choose which mediums you’ll use to reach customers, having this literal reminder of who you’re talking to can help you identify which features and benefits will most likely resonate.
Adapt your strategy to fit them. Once you understand to whom you’re talking, consider what aspects of the buying experience your customers value so much that it’s non-negotiable in order to convince them to buy. If your target customers frequently shop online, for example, you’ll likely need to invest in a seamless checkout experience to compete with the other businesses they buy from, and win their business. Likewise, if you know that your target audience typically pays with credit cards, you may need to invest in the payment processing solutions that ensure you’re equipped to process their order from anywhere, whether it’s a physical storefront or remote location.
Ask for their opinion. Social media has made it simple for small business marketers to solicit customer opinions on topics including which products or services they’d like your business to offer, and reasons they buy (or don’t) from your business. Whether you choose to conduct large-scale quantitative surveys consisting of a few multiple-choice questions, or a qualitative survey that asks customers open-ended questions, using this free medium to connect with customers can help you uncover insights that will further develop your understanding of your target audience.
Identifying your target market isn’t difficult, but it does require that you explore what type of customer is most likely to care about your products, services and brand values. Try these simple tips to figure out which customers are most likely to respond to your messages, and, ideally, be willing to buy.
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