If you have a product or service to sell, one of your first concerns is figuring out who will be interested in purchasing it. When you are starting a new business, the first aspect to address is…
How To Find Your Target Audience
A company needs to know who it is catering to in order to appropriately gear its planning and investment to market to as many potentially interested parties as possible.
If you don’t know your target market, you are likely to spend a lot of money setting up marketing campaigns to demographics that will ultimately not result in leads, rather than focus your advertising on those customers more likely to convert.
This is financially wasteful, causing your ROI to sink. In fact, it can mean the difference between your company’s success and not being able to even get it off the ground.
There is a litany of reasons that a startup could fail to succeed. A breakdown can be found in this analysis of businesses that have quickly gone under. The two top reasons for failures however are:
- No Market Need For Product or Service
- Drying Up of Cash Funds
No Market Need for Product or Service
While a problem may be an interesting one to solve, there might just not be enough of a market or enough interest from consumers to justify spending money on your product or service.
The offered solutions are only viable if they serve a need that is universal enough to permit scaling its implementation, otherwise, it is simply an idea that burns out quickly.
Unfortunately, when there is not sufficient demand, even the most creative solution can fail to persevere.
Drying Up Of Cash Funds
Poor market research also leads to inefficient marketing campaigns.
When millions are poured into a marketing effort aimed at the improper market demographic, that money is largely wasted as it does not generate many actionable leads.
While these funds could have gone to improving product quality, enhancement of a service, or hiring talented staff to help move a company forward, it is often the case that the money is funneled into ill-fated marketing campaigns to people who are not in the market for the product or services.
As there is little ROI in these situations, many startups simply run out of cash and are forced to close.
Defining The Target Audience
So how does a startup figure out the correct audience to market to? It’s likely best to start by defining what a target audience is.
This is a specific group of people to whom the marketing of the company’s product or service will be geared toward. The operative term in that definition is of course: specific.
In that regard, a target audience will be those people who:
- Require your product and are willing to pay for it
- Are in the same general demographic
- Connected by similar characteristics
“If you build it, they will come” is a movie quote often adopted by marketers.
While this statement has a lot of valid power behind it, in its fullest context, it will come if the right people know about it being built.
There are a number of reasons to invest the time and money in finding the right audience to cater to, but if we had to pick the top three, we would defer to CoSchedule findings in having them be:
- Your content would be created for the right people
- Content creation will be easier as it will more readily connect with the needs of the consumer
- If the above two are done well, the number of conversions will increase
Understanding The Target Market
In order to fully understand your target market, you will need to figure out the answers to a few key questions:
What need is your service or product trying to help provide a solution to?
To address this question, we decided to use Tesla as a case study. The company’s aim is clearly stated on their website: their goal is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
As they state more fully:
“Tesla builds not only all-electric vehicles but infinitely scalable clean energy generation and storage products. Tesla believes the faster the world stops relying on fossil fuels and moves toward a zero-emission future, the better.”
The company, therefore, has a clear vision for what they are looking to achieve, understanding a problem that exists in the world, and trying to solve it in ways that will benefit their users.
Any owner of a company producing a product or service needs to be able to speak to the product’s usefulness in addressing a particular need, otherwise, they need to scrap the process and start over with their idea.
Who is the competition?
While you might know the biggest, most reputable brands in your industry, that knowledge alone is not sufficient.
There might be a handful of ‘big’ names, but there will be a litany of mid-tier brands on the market who will serve as even more fierce competition in fighting for a share of the market.
No one can anticipate competing with a major Fortune 500 player straight away, so the initial focus should be on drawing the target market away from smaller competitors first, then scaling upwards.
Such research can start with a simple google search of the pertinent keyword for your industry with ‘company’ appended to it.
For Tesla, the search would be something like ‘electric cars’ + company. Another way is to look through the social media listings of pertinent companies through social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.
Once the competitors are found, you can review their ‘About Us’ pages as well as the descriptions of their product or service attributes and features.
While this will be a great way to find out who is out there and what they are doing, deeper research can educate you about the specifics of those particular competitors.
This research ties into the final question you should be asking.
What reasons would consumers have to choose your brand instead of another?
With some knowledge acquired about the market and prospective competitors, you should be able to assess what makes your brand, as well as your service or product, different from others in the industry.
What distinguishes your product or services’ approach to a solution from others available?
If you have not studied your competition, you are unlikely to be able to answer these types of questions.
Needless to say, this is not the entirety of the process, but this is a pivotal set of early moves in understanding the process of finding a target audience.
Vital Target Audience Finding Strategies
Start Wide, Narrow Gradually To Your Final Niche
Many marketers are too quick to narrow their niche. In doing so, they end up missing out on key demographics.
The better strategy is to start at a wider range of prospective customers and narrow down from there as you refine your marketing approach.
The ideal way to determine your target audience is to start by determining which of the following three important attributes are representative of your desired customer base:
These are very broad groups and you can chop off a lot of excess in terms of who you will market to just from those. For instance, let’s take the Fenty beauty product line.
Their products include foundations, lipsticks, and makeup accessories for women with different shades of skin.
In other words, Fenty’s beauty line’s primary target audience is women, so they would be wasting resources if they targeted men, who, while they may purchase makeup, do not make up a significant enough portion of the target market.
Having established the gender aspect of it, the niche can be further refined by considering that seniors and young teens are unlikely to use these products.
So the age range of women being marketed toward would narrow the age parameters to women between the ages of 18 and 60.
This gives you a good idea of your target audience, but as you read on, you will get an idea of how your niche would be even more finely refined.
While narrowing down your marketing scope is important, it alone cannot achieve the accumulation of information you require.
It’s important to remember that as the customer is the most vital part of any successful, sustainable, and thriving business, it is important to talk to customers to get their input about your product or service.
After all, it is possible that the assumptions you are working with currently could be completely off.
In order to test your hypothesis about who your target market is, you need to use focus groups to affirm or disprove your stance.
To continue through with your Fenty example, simply knowing that 18 to 60-year-old women are the target market is not enough to formulate an efficient strategy.
The target audience is simply too wide using only age and gender as attributes, so the scope needs to be parameterized further.
Market segmentation should be further broken down by other customer characteristics. A helpful graphic shows how the market can be segmented with 4 additional breakdowns.
To get started with this approach, a focus group needs to be established. The group would include anywhere from 7 to 10 participants and would be shown the product or service that you are getting ready to offer.
Once this has been done, pay careful attention to the members’ initial reaction and listen closely to the feedback of their opinions and first impressions to see how receptive they are to your offerings.
Whether the reactions are positive or negative, it is important to give the reasoning behind them equal consideration.
There are several reasons why focus group members may not react favorably to a particular service or product.
- Social Class Or Financial Constraints: The product’s price range could be out of its financial reach, and is therefore unappealing.
- No Visible Benefits: They may not see how this product benefits them, causing them to not have any desire to purchase it.
- Feels Unnecessary: How does your product save them time or solve a common issue they may have. If you are not clear in communicating that information explicitly, and the audience must make their own assumptions on the matter, they may not be keen on bothering with the product at all.
Deriving as much detailed feedback from your focus group is pivotal.
This group will be a sample of the overall target audience population, so the members are representative of a template that you would encounter in the general market.
Keep in mind that the opinions of less than a dozen people are not going to be sufficient either since the market goes through changes, making sure your product or service is still relevant is something that should be done regularly.
The more focus group based interviews you conduct, the better you will understand the needs and expectations from your product type from the target audience. Using this information you can continue to optimize your product.
Developing Buyer Personas
A buyer persona is a fictional depiction to represent the idea custom for a particular company.
This persona is created so that we as a business know exactly the type of customer we want to market our product or service to.
It’s hard to make a sale if you are not sure who is buying. Of course, multiple personas can be applied as many products overlap personas, with people using your product.
That means developing different personas for different types of people.
Using a generic template does not help you establish your desired customers’ personas, so it’s important to tailor them specifically to your own company.
There are several great tools to assist in the development and establishment of buyer personas to help ease this process.
- Xtensio’s User Persona Creator: This tool provides you with templates that include customer personalities, motivations, goals, frustrations, and preferred shopping channels.
- HubSpot’s Buyer Persona Template: This tool has four sections that help you map out the who, what, why, and how aspects of customer demographics.
- Filestage’s Buyer Persona Template: Available in PDF and PowerPoint versions, this well-designed tool gives you the ability to set up a full scope of your buyer persona.
Questions To Ask When Developing A Buyer Persona
Buyer persona aspects divide up into a multitude of categories, and there are important questions to be asked with respect to each one to narrow the scope and focus on who would be an ideal customer for your particular brand.
Demographic Based Questions
These are questions regarding what would be the buyer’s name, gender, age, geographic residence, line of work, and annual income.
Backstory Based Questions
These questions deal more with the person’s origins such as where they were born, where they grew up if they have siblings, who they were raised by, whether their parents are still married if they attended college and if so, what did they major in.
If the persona didn’t attend college, what is it they did after high school? What was the person’s first job?
These questions aim to find the buyer’s current state of life and their favorite preferences across multiple category genres.
These questions include whether they are married and if they have any children.
If they do have children (or plan on having any later), how many do they have, what are their genders, ages, and if they live with them.
Other pertinent questions have to do with whether they are close to their extended family, have pets (what kinds), have nearby or distant friends, and what kind of house they live in.
Additionally, relevant personal questions can ask if the person is religious, if they have a favorite hobby, play sports, enjoy coffee, smoke, like traveling or vacationing (where?), and how they spend their weekends.
It’s always good to find what their preferences are as far as cooking at home or eating at restaurants and what type of entertainment they enjoy.
- Career Based Questions: What industry is their job in, what does their work entail, do they work for a big company or a small business, what types of tools do they use at their job, what do they earn and how are they compensated. It’s also interesting to find out if they enjoy what they do for work.
- Financially Based Questions: It’s often pertinent to establish the persona’s financial state and behaviors. This includes finding out their net worth, if they carefully consider finances before making a purchase, are they in debt, what drives them to make a purchase (need or impulse), are they the breadwinner in the home, and are they the ones to make the big financial decisions?
- Goal-Based Questions: These questions address what the persona is looking to achieve. What are their goals (short and long-term), what is on their ‘bucket list’, what stresses them out, what purchases do they regret, and what are they seeking to gain from using your product?
Conduction Of Surveys
Once your startup begins to convert into sales, it’s time to start utilizing the power of surveys.
These surveys should then be performed on a regular basis in order to gauge what the target audience thinks of your product and what they currently expect from it.
These are also important to use when a customer stops using a service you provide.
Finding out why that happened can help determine the necessary adjustments that need to be made in order to improve your offering and not turn away more customers because of the same reasons.
Because the market changes periodically it is important to keep conducting these surveys in order to keep up with changing customer expectations and views and to adjust accordingly.
A helpful free tool like survey.io can help to get started with survey creation. When creating a survey it’s important to make it short and straight to the point. Surveys should focus on questions related to:
- Geographic locations
- Behavioral trends
- Psychographic traits
Utilize Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a fantastic tool that can help in getting a lot of information about who your audience is. A custom dashboard from Coschedule can be added to Google analytics to get useful data.
Some of the vital data include:
- Demographics: Age and Gender: What gender are the people visiting your site and what age ranged do they fall into.
- Interests: Analytics can help assess audience interest, an important aspect in helping you create an advertisement of your products as well as give you ideas of how to better cater to an audience that cares enough about looking into your product to visit your site.
- Geography and Location: By knowing where the audience comes from, you can tailor-make advertisements that resonate most optimally with their culture. Knowing this information is key to not making confusing content, offensive cultural blunders, and picking the right times of the year to weigh more heavily into the region’s advertising (i.e. holiday season)
Be Socially Active
By keeping active on social media, you can also derive more information about your target audience.
When the audience reaches out with comments or questions, try to interact with them to the best of your ability.
You should even seek out groups that are related to your industry through LinkedIn and Facebook, and use them to establish connections.
This will potentially help you grow your audience base. You can also use these groups to send out ‘feeler’ inquiries to see what your audience is most interested in.
Finding your target audience is a long term project that begins at the very start of your business’s conception and continues throughout its life.
When you first begin, you simply do not have enough data to work with. To figure out your target audience, you have to drill down with the previously suggested strategies to attain your niche.
Engaging your audience with interviews and surveys is an important factor in understanding what problems they have for you to know what to develop a solution for.
If you know what drives your buyers, you know what products they are likely to want to purchase.
Surveys should continue through the duration of the life of your business so that you can stay on top of the demands and needs of a changing market.
Using tools like ahrefs can help you conduct an analysis of your competition in the industry and decide if you would like to take their approach or carve your own path.
Buyer personas are very helpful to narrow down your focus to the ideal type of client you would like to cater to.
Using analytics provided by Google can also help you assess who comprises the audience that is visiting your site, and help you better tailor your approach to catering to them as they are already showing interest in your products.
Interactions with customers (existing or prospective) are also essential in order to derive confirmation about what your audience needs and wants, reducing the guessing aspect.
As you find out more information, let that data drive your marketing and production approach for your products.
Now it’s time to get out there and start the process!
Need more help with a marketing strategy read this: How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy for 2021
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