[Editor's Note: This blog series is taken from Richard’s seminar given at Creative Expo 2017.]
In last weeks blog, ‘Who the Heck are you Selling to? Part One’ we talked about the importance of knowing who your target audience is - or more importantly - who it is not.
Many small business owners aren't clear about their ideal customer. For this reason, you can waste a lot of time and money trying to sell your product or services to people who aren't good potential customers.
Your ability to clearly define and narrow your focus to the audience who are most likely to connect with your brand and buy your product or service, is essential to your business success.
So how do you find your ideal target audience?
Sometimes it's obvious. If you're a plumber, you're going to be targeting home owners. If you're selling clothes for newborn babies, you'll be targeting parents.
For some businesses, it's not so easy: selling artwork for example, or other creative products.
Here are some tips to help you find your business's ideal customers:
1. Analyse your existing customers: If your business has been around a while, take some time to assess who is actually buying from you. Has it changed over time? Is it who you intended your audience to be? Gather information from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.) or use tools like LinkedIn to gather as much information as you can on these people.
Ask yourself basic questions first like...
- What age are they?
- What gender?
- What type of company were they from: Large corporate / Small one–person business
- Where are they located?
Use a spreadsheet–or just pen and paper to note down similarities and themes you see appearing.
Analysing your current customers can give you a good picture of who you’re actually selling to and you can then combine some of that data into what's known as personas.
2. Check out the competition: For businesses similar to yours, who do their messages seem to be targeting? How do they differentiate themselves in their marketing efforts? What does their brand say about their audience?
Look at their website, brochures, logo, shop–if a bricks and mortar business–and anything else you can get hold of. Check out their Twitter, Facebook or Instagram feeds and see how they communicate with their followers. More importantly, look at the types of people who follow and interact with them on these various social platforms.
3. Think about your ideal client: Imagine placing an advert in a newspaper for your perfect customer. What qualities do they have? What is his or her age, education, occupation or business? What is his or her income bracket or financial situation? What newspaper would they read?
Thinking about your ideal client focuses the mind more than looking at your current clients or customers–some of whom may well not be your ideal. It forces you to assess what are the qualities of a good, if not the best, client.
4. Create Personas of your ideal client: Personas are defined as:
“fictional characters created to represent the different user types that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way.”
Personas help you understand your prospective customers better. This makes it easier for you to tailor your content, messaging and services to the specific needs of different groups. In other words, you may know that your target audience is small business owners, but do you know what their specific needs and interests are? What is the typical background of your ideal buyer? In order to have a real understanding of what makes your customers tick, it's helpful to develop detailed personas for your business.
Be specific! Instead of describing your customers in typical marketing speak - i.e. 25–35 year old female, living in London and the Home Counties, personas allow you to focus on individuals rather than a group.
- What type of personality are they?
- How tech savvy are they?
- What books & magazines do they read?
- What music do they listen to?
- Where do they shop?
- Where do they live?
- Where do they eat?
- And so on…
And most importantly, what is their specific problem that your product or service can solve?
Your target audience is not everyone. There are many people who–no offence–will not touch your product or service with a barge-pole. This is not a bad thing. It’s just not for them. You don't want to be wasting your time trying to communicate with them.
Your job is to get inside the head of your real audience. Understand how they think. What are the challenges in their life right now? What are the things that keep them up at night?
So, in summary:
- Analyse your existing customers
- Check out the competition
- Think about your ideal client
- Create personas of your ideal client
Once you've done all that, assess your own website, your sales emails, social media posts and brand personality and see if they are aimed at the right audience. If not, change them or chat to me about how we can help you change them.
Understanding your audience will help you go a long way in defining the right messages that connect with the right people, that solves their problems, increasing your sales, giving your business the success it deserves.