If you own a business or if you’ve spent any time developing your marketing strategy, you’ve probably heard about target audiences.
The general idea behind defining your target audience is that you need to know who you’re trying to reach with your messages if you want them to hit their mark and to have a serious impact on the way that your business is performing.
Let’s say that you’re a software development company.
In this instance, you might define your target audience as small business owners who need help developing bespoke business management software. You might go further and identify specific industries or specifics software use cases.
Another good example of a specific target audience comes to us via a classic example of content marketing.
When tire manufacturers Michelin first launched their iconic Michelin Guide, it was to deal with a problem. People weren’t driving their cars enough for them to need to buy new tires, and so Michelin came up with an idea.
They released a guide to all of the best restaurants and sent it out to car owners. Before long, they were jumping behind the wheel and driving to the restaurants – and buying more tires as a result of it.
Carrying out target audience analysis is important because it helps to make sure that every element of the customer journey is created from the ground up with your target market in mind.
The more you can improve relevancy for the people you’re creating and distributing content for, the more likely they are to convert into customers.
In fact, once you have your buyer persona, you should be using that to inform every step of the customer journey, from on-boarding through nurturing and finally to the point of purchase.
But how do you define your target audience in the first place? Let’s take a little look.
What You Need To Create A Buyer Persona
The first thing to mention is that if you want to create an effective buyer persona, you need to go into detail and combine multiple characteristics to really get to know your target customer.
The examples that we’ve given so far, while enough to give you a general idea of what a buyer persona look like, are far too high level to offer any real value in the field.
On top of that, just one buyer persona is unlikely to be enough, because most companies work with multiple different types of customer.
At the same time, developing too many different buyer personas can force you to take the eye off the ball or leave your content marketing department stretching itself too thin in an attempt to cater to everyone.
Some of the audience insights that we’d recommend monitoring include:Demographics: The most obvious type of data to look at, demographics specify age, gender, religious beliefs, physical location and other key information about human beings.
Interests: When we talk about your audience’s interests, we’re talking about the different types of content they consume and the verticals that they’ve expressed interest in through their behavior, such as by following Facebook pages.
Psychographics: Psychographics is the art of studying psychological attributes such as personalities, values, opinions, altitudes and lifestyles.
Activity: This is based on specific actions that people take, such as signing up to your email list or taking a free trial. Identifying activities that a prospect takes can help you to better cater to them with the content that you create.
By now, you might think that you’re ready to get started with your buyer personas, but we’d encourage you to hold off just a little longer.
We’ve still haven't answered the question of “what is a target audience?”
We still need to talk about audience analysis and how you can use this research to build a more comprehensive profile of your target customer.
Here are ten steps that you can follow to identify the specific target audience that you want to reach.
10 Steps To Find Your Perfect Audience
1. Learn The Needs, Wants And Pain Points Of Your Target Audience
This is probably the most important step when you want to identify your target audience.
Picking up these pain points and being able to position your product as a solution will ensure that people are more than happy to spend their money with you.
Of course, it’s hard to get a solid idea of what those pain points might be until you’ve started to narrow down who you’re trying to reach.
With your audience in mind and a thorough understanding of their needs and wants, you can identify how your product/service can help to address those pain points and make the lives of your ideal customer that much easier.
2. Analyze Your Competitors
One of the most important aspects of developing a marketing strategy is carrying out competitor analysis so that you can learn from their marketing efforts and see what worked (and what didn’t).
You can then take these learnings and apply them to your own marketing efforts and essentially learn for free without having to make the cash investment to run marketing campaigns that aren’t going anywhere, like your competitors did.
With that said, you should also remember that just because someone’s your competitor, it doesn’t mean that they’re targeting the same group of people that you are.
When you define your target audience, don’t just make a carbon copy of what your competitors are doing.
Instead, invest some time to develop a more accurate target audience of your own. If your ideal customer overlaps with the group of people that your competitors are targeting, so be it.
3. Build A Community
If you want to be successful as a marketer in today’s day and age, you need to take full advantage of the opportunities that social media has to offer.
Facebook in particular opens you up to a huge audience of potential customers, with nearly 2.5 billion monthly active users. If your audience is online, they’re probably on Facebook and other social media sites.
Building a community isn’t easy, and it takes a lot of time and dedication.
It also requires much more than simply trying to sell to people. You have to build honest relationships.
You need to thoroughly define your target audience and then create content that adds some value to their lives. Again, we can’t stress this enough – you need to make sure that you’re adding some sort of value.
If you’re not creating value and establishing a safe place for like-minded people to come together, you’re going to struggle to build a healthy, vibrant community.
4. Document All Existing Audience Insights
By this point in your journey to define your target audience, you should have a strong set of insights already under your belt that you can start to use to build a user persona.
Before you go ahead and get started, though, take some time to document all of the insights so that you have all of that information gathered together in a single place.
Feel free to include as much information and to go into as much detail as possible. Sure, when you build your final user persona, it’s true that less is more.
That’s because when you define your target audience and create a persona, you want to be as succinct and to the point as possible to make them useful and usable. In the research stage, though, you’ll want to gather as much information as possible.
5. Address Potential Pain Points And Potential Objections
Building on from our first point, once you understand your customers’ pain points and the objections that they might have when it comes to purchasing your product, you can start to address them.
Part of this comes down to education – you’ll need to provide content that shows how you can help people. At the same time, you need to get the balance just right.
If you overwhelm people with product information and educational content, you’re going to lose their attention and drive them away instead of building your community.
6. Use Social Media And Your Website To Carry Out Further Audience Analysis
Your website and your social media profiles are an untapped mine of analytics and demographics information.
In fact, one way to define your target audience is to look at who’s already consuming and enjoying your content.
The risk here is that you might have built up an existing audience that isn’t relevant to your business, especially if you’ve already been creating and distributing content but with no strategy behind it.
7. Create A Webinar To Attract And Sell New People
Webinars are a default part of inbound marketing, and with good reason.
They can provide a huge amount of value to your audience whilst simultaneously presenting yourself as an expert.
When done well, they’re arguably the most powerful type of content that you could hope to create, as long as your business makes sure not to come across too “salesy”.
They can be especially useful for B2B companies and those who have a longer sales cycle.
They’re great for service businesses too, because it allows them to show off their unique insights and abilities in a way that allows people to try before they buy.
8. Create Social Media Ads To Attract/Warm-Up New People
Now that you know who your specific audience is, you’re ready to start creating social media ads to reach out to them. This comes back to the #R3MAT method, which we’ll talk about a little later on.
Once you define your target audience, you can start to create Facebook and other social media ads to reach out to people and to introduce them to your brand.
Remember that your ads need to direct people to take an action, whether that’s to make a purchase or whether it’s simply to like your page.
9. Give Away Free Content That’s Worth Paying For
This is something that we hinted about when we talked about webinars, although that’s just one type of content.
You also need to think about social media updates, blog posts, videos and more. Reaching the right target market is one thing, but reaching them with quality content is something else entirely.
You need to make sure that your content is so good that it’s worth paying for and then you need to give it away to people for free with no expectation of an immediate return.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t keep an eye on insights and metrics to monitor and improve your performance though. Just remember that these numbers aren’t the be-all and end-all.
10. Give More To Receive More
Once you define your target audience and set up your content marketing campaigns, it becomes a gift that keeps on giving.
This is especially true if you’re able to build up a following on Facebook and Instagram or if you can create “evergreen” content – content that never goes out of date.
After you’ve narrowed down your strategy and got your approach just right, you can start to deploy more and more content campaigns to witness ever increasing results.
Remember that this approach to marketing is all about adding value, and so the more value that you give to your audience, the more value you’ll receive from them in return.
Can You Have More Than One Target Market?
The answer to this question, as you’ve probably guessed from the rest of the article, is a resounding, “Yes!”
In fact, it’s almost always a good idea to have several different target audiences because even if you only service one kind of customer, you’ll service them at different points in the customer journey and so they’ll require different types of communication.
The biggest challenge is making sure that you don’t go overboard when defining your target audience.
There’s a real risk that you’ll accidentally create too many different target audiences and struggle to cater to them all. The important thing is to establish a balance.
Let’s take a look at an example.
An obvious one would be Netflix, which makes it its mission to create original programming based upon market segmentation and clever audience targeting.
The original programming that it creates to reach children and families is very different to the content that it’s creating for students, and indeed it tends to vary drastically from region to region.
Another example with multiple target audiences would be a business like Johnson and Johnson, which owns a range of medical and lifestyle products ranging from Clean & Clear to Band-Aid, Listerine and Benecol.
With all of these different products on offer, Johnson and Johnson had no choice. It had to develop different audience targeting strategies to sell different products in different markets.
Why Knowing Your Target Market Is So Important
Understanding your target market is of paramount importance if you want your business to make any money.
That’s because if you get this part wrong then you’ll invest a lot of time and money into creating content that doesn’t resonate with people and which ultimately doesn’t have any effect.
If you try to sell to everyone, you’ll end up selling to no one.
Your business can’t afford to waste its time with a scattergun approach and instead needs to think more like a sniper. It’s better to be focussed and to pick out your shot than it is to try to sell to absolutely everyone.
For us, we swear by the #R3MAT Method, which largely revolves around trying to reach the right person in the right place with the right message at the right time.
Relevance is the name of the game, and the more relevant you can make your message to the target market that you’ve identified, the more likely you are to see a return on investment from your marketing campaigns.
Now that you know everything you need to know about how and why to identify your target audience, it’s over to you to start profiling your ideal customer and figuring out who you want to reach and what message you want to reach them with.
The good news is that once you define your target audience, your business will start to see increasing returns over time.
As your business aligns itself more closely with the audience that you’ve defined, you’ll find it easier to reach your target when it comes to everything from sales and marketing to business growth and more.
By now, you should have all of the skills you need to define your target audience and to reposition your business, and so all that remains is for you to go ahead and do just that.
Be sure to come back later and to let us know in the comments how your business gets on, and good luck out there!
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