Who are your potential customers?
Many business owners have absolutely no idea.
Not just companies like Apple, Nike, and GE should know who their target audience is—you do, too.
Have you ever considered that the people you're spending your marketing dime and efforts on aren't interested in your offer?
When you know the people who actually want your product or service, you can refine your message to directly communicate with those people.
And when you target the right customers, you'll boost subscriptions, conversion rates, and long-term and immediate sales.
So I'll give you the stripped down basics of determining your target market.
That way, even if you have a limited (to no) marketing budget, you'll be able to set up your ideal client profile and stop barking up the wrong trees.
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Take A Look At Your Business Plan
(Don't have one? Oh boy... We'll get there in a moment.)
The first step in defining your target audience is to look at the goals you set up for your business.
If you're "winging" things, you might want to create a simple business plan I set up for solopreneurs, freelancers, direct sellers and some small businesses.
Next, you'll want to analyze your products and services.
Check out my post on determining the focus of your business before answering the following questions:
- How many services/products are you offering?
- On what product and/or service do you make the most (or could potentially make the most) income?
If you're relatively established, take a peek at your sales history within the last year: what have people been buying the most?
When you look at your highest grossing product or service, you have a pretty good idea of what you could be focusing your marketing efforts on.
EXAMPLE: Let's say you're a mompreneur blogger focusing on building a consistent passive income.
You primarily sell eBooks that help new bloggers to start on the path to success.
But, sales aren't consistent and you're looking to remedy that.
So you do some research using your sales for the past year.
Your highest selling product is a step-by-step eBook on setting up a blog for success (using any platform) and how your reader can maintain and steadily grow with your system in place.
With that, you have an easy starting point to discover more about the profitable areas of your business. And giving your audience more of what they want.
(You can do this using Google Analytics on blog content, too.)
At this point, I'm going to assume that you know what you have that's working well.
You have an idea of what you should do to promote it further—maybe create more images for Pinterest or Instagram? Writing up your blog posts to include your product in it? And so on.
Now, it's time for the research.
Research potential customers
Start with conducting secondary market research.
Use existing resources to help pull together information about your industry, the market, and your competition.
The goal is to begin painting a picture of your ideal target customer.
Let's refer back to the example Mompreneur Blogger.
Simply put, Google the top competitors in your niche.
From there, select specific competitors from the first or second page results—those are the businesses you want to consider your competition.
Take a look at what your competitors are doing:
- What are they using their website for? A showcase for their product or service? An introduction to what they do and how they can help? A sales machine—strong focus on lead collection and conversion funnels?
- What is their main offer? Focused on one offering? Focused on numerous offerings? Offering a "limited time only" deal?
- Who are they targeting? Is there website "hip and fun"? Is it classy and clean? Is it simple and easy to navigate? Is it dated?
- What are they writing about? News on their own offerings? Advice and tips to help their clients or industry followers?
- Who follows them? Influencers? Customers? Industry followers?
These are some general questions you should take notes on when scoping out their website, blog, and social media accounts.
Next, it's time to conduct primary market research.
Primary research is the tedious and often takes a lot of time.
This is the point when I received calls from people seeking out my previous marketing services.
Primary research is the nitty-gritty, in-depth "ideal" client summary phase that most everyone who isn't a marketer hates. But you know you need it.
NOTE: The following is going to be a very basic introduction to market research.
You can dig deeper into marketing and exploring demographics and psychographics in the #4DayGoals eBook. (Enter your email and I'll send you a free chapter, plus a 7-day growth email series.)
For now I'll deliver a simple peek at primary research so that you can begin discovering your target market.
This funnel graph shows the basics of defining your target audience. The fundamentals cover the simple demographics and emotional (psychographics) covers what your target client actually wants.
It all trickles down to your niche markets.
Your niche market and all this research that comes with defining it will direct your product and/or service features to satisfy specific market wants and needs.
The fundamentals narrow down the focus of who wants your offer. The emotional communicates why they want it.
Okay, I know this is getting complicated, so let's go back to Mompreneur Blogger as an example to help lighten this load.
Let's say you've determined with the secondary market research—by studying your industry and first and second page results of your Googled competitors—in addition to your existing sales history (or by popular content from your competitors).
So, with an existing online business, you should've had Google Analytics, or some form of analytics set up.
NOTE: I use the Squarespace platform to run my website, hosting, etc. It has Analytics built in, however, it's not as thorough and you don't have any customization ability. I'd recommend opting for Google Analytics (it's free) or another trusted platform. Simply Google "analytics platforms" to see what's available.
Within your Analytics platform, you find that your target audience is between the ages of 25 and 44, and predominantly female.
You also find that those two age brackets (25-34 and 35-44) are your highest conversion rates—visitors and/or subscribers becoming customers.
You go deeper into the Audience tab of Google Analytics, under Geography and then Location to see that the highest visitors, conversions, and earnings are all from people in the United States.
Then (still under the Audience tab) you go into Technology and to Browser.
From here you can see that predominantly iOS (iPhone mobile) users visit your website. But coming in at a close second are Windows and Mac users.
With this information (still using our example Mompreneur Blogger), you can gather that:
You should focus on appealing to the female (other mompreneurs) visitor between the ages of 25 and 44—how will that affect your language? References? Examples and stories used in your content?
Your product and/or service should be geared toward the United States. With a whopping 15,000 more visitors than Canada, it's apparent that your target market is English-speaking and primarily in the "sunnier" states—which can be found when you click on the Map or location text in Google Analytics. (How can you customize your content to cater to them more now?)
You should have a responsive website that's clean and simple. Because your primary visitors are iOS (iPhone) mobile users, having a quick website load time (no massive images or loaded down with scripts), and a simple design that correlates well to mobile is important to your visitor's experience (UX) on your site and easy of comprehension.
Now that you've done a little demographic research, you can begin building the image of your ideal customer.
I know many marketers go as far as building a detailed persona of your ideal customer. Or even a few, depending on how varied your audience is.
(I have two general types, so I created two detailed personas.)
By defining your target audience in this way, it doesn't mean that you're excluding anyone. It means that you're choosing where to spend your time and money marketing to the audience that actually wants what you have to offer.
The more people you want to reach, the more time and money it's going to cost to connect with them.
A targeted profile keeps your message focused on the people who will make the most impact on your business.
Develop a customer profile
By defining each of your target audience's key personas as a single person (each) with a life and a story, you're essentially making it so simple to have a conversation with him or her.
Imagine that you're writing a novel.
You go in with an incredible story idea. You're so excited, you just get to writing.
You find yourself writing and writing, and all of a sudden after 14 hours at your desk, you've cranked out 250 pages of your story.
In the heat of excitement, you decide to take a break, grab some coffee (we're not robots...) and hop right into editing.
Within the first 5 pages, you realize your heroine is completely hollow.
No one would read and enjoy your story.
So, you go back before you try to find a publisher and embarrass yourself, and decide to create a profile for your main characters.
In the case of blogging and/or simply running your business online, you only need one or two. (Lucky you.)
Creating a targeted profile keeps your message focused on the people who will make the most impact on your business.
For the sake of examples, I'll give you a brief rundown on what the Mompreneur Blogger's target reader looks like simply using the information gathered from Google Analytics.
(However, I suggest digging into your competitors' audiences and studying how they communicate with them.)
You'll find a much more successful finished profile with a thorough scope of what your prospective audience truly wants and needs.
With that, let me introduce you to Becky.
In short, you could bullet-point the important parts from your research as a "rolling list" of your target prospect.
The whole point is that you have the details for whenever you're updating your website, blogging, writing content, or marketing your business online and off in any way.
So, if you're a lister, stick with a list.
If you're driven by the story, create a persona for your prospects.
Then, find how you can solve their key "problem" or main concerns through your product or service.
Discovering how your product or service can benefit your potential prospect starts with a targeted client profile—whether listed or in a persona format. Then address the problem they're having. How does your product or service solve that problem for them?
SUGGESTED: The Content Planning Workshop
Monitor, change, and grow
With a targeted prospect profile, your marketing efforts have a foundation for all avenues of communication.
While keeping on tone and voice with your brand, you'll be able to reach the people who are actually interested in your offer. And are much more likely to become brand ambassadors for you.
After launching your website, offers, or marketing campaigns, it's important to track your efforts.
- your sales, interactions, requests for information, and more.
- and identify trends, patterns and possible areas of improvement. By monitoring these activities in addition to continual research to stay current on market and industry trends, you'll be able to make adjustments to your campaign and allow continual growth as opposed to potential stagnancy in your objective. Check out Google Trends for email prompts regarding specific industry trends. Also, I've found using LinkedIn Pulse's app to be quite helpful with keeping up on news and professional trends, too.
So, who wants what you have to offer?
Your email subscriptions, sales, and conversion rates are ready for a qualified boost.
Are you ready to do the work?
(I know you are.)
If you're a current blogger with Google Analytics set up, start there.
You can set the timeframe you're looking for information in to as little and as far back as you'd like.
And be sure to check out my post on finding your audience from your Google Analytics Reports. It's a much more thorough walkthrough than this post.
If you're just starting out or looking to appeal to a different audience (been there...), start by researching your competitors.
Use this post on finding what to blog about (which covers exploring your audience a bit), or you can check out the introduction to my Content Planning Workshop which gives step-by-step instructions and examples to help you dig deep into your competitor's audiences, as well as develop a rock-solid content plan.
So, whichever way you chose, the next step is to take action.
P.S. Comments, emails, running a business and being a mom of 3 were just too much for me to handle. So, blog comments got the boot. But the lack of a comment box doesn't mean I don't want to hear what you think! Share your thoughts with me via @GoffCreative on Twitter or directly via email.
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