No matter what type of business you have, one of your first tasks is to identify your audience or target market. This informs your entire marketing strategy. Your website, social media pages, advertisements, emails, and other promotional tools must all be directed towards the people who are most receptive to your message. If you're not targeting the right customers, your efforts will be in vain. Here are some of the best ways to identify your audience.
Focus on Pleasure/Pain
Traditionally, marketers are told to identify the most pressing problem their business solves for customers. If you're a dentist, you're helping people with painful issues affecting their teeth and gums as well as general oral health. If you're an exterminator, you help people rid themselves of troublesome critters like ants or termites. However, other businesses cater more to pleasure. If you're in the travel industry, you might be appealing to people's sense of adventure. On the other hand, you might also alleviate the misery of suffering through a brutal winter by tempting people with a tropical cruise. No matter what you're selling, think of how it relates to the pain-pleasure spectrum.
Who Needs It Most?
Now it's time to get more specific and ask yourself who benefits most from your product or service. One approach to this is to create a buyer persona
. The paradox about buyer personas is that they are typical yet fictional. Statistics may reveal that the average family has 2.34 children but no family actually has fractional children. Your typical customer may be a 38-year-old, college-educated, married woman who lives in the suburbs and drives a Honda Accord. This is useful to know but remember that most of your customers won't fit this exact profile.
How do you go about constructing a buyer persona? If you've been in business for a while, you already have tools to work with. Study analytics of your customers, using tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook Insights. The best sources to use for research depend on your business. Pinterest analytics
, for example, is very useful if you're selling physical products that are popular on that social media platform. If you have an email list, you can send out surveys. If you're looking for data on sensitive topics such as people's income, it's best to keep the surveys anonymous and to use ranges (e.g. check a box such as "between $50,000 and $75,000 rather than asking them to fill in the exact number).
Where Do They Spend Their Time?
Once you've identified your customers' needs and typical characteristics, you want to find out where they hang out. This includes social media sites, which provide one of the best testing grounds to find and connect with your audience. Facebook is fairly universal but different groups are more likely to use Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, or SnapChat. If you're not sure, test different platforms and find out where you get the best results. If you're doing offline marketing, you'll want to identify the best places to reach your target market, which may include print publications, billboards, TV and radio stations, colleges and universities, and events such as conferences, trade shows, and festivals.
Speak Their Language
Part of understanding your target market is knowing their preferences for certain words, images, and styles. You wouldn't use the same approach when selling a financial product to investors as you would an energy drink or smartphone app. Does your audience prefer a casual or formal style of communication? Are they driven more by logic or emotion? What keywords do they respond to? The latter is important for writing effective copy and also for optimizing your online content for the search engines. Your competition provides some clues in this area. Look at the most successful businesses in your niche or industry and see how they communicate.
Keep Studying Your Target Audience
Understanding your audience isn't a set-and-forget task. It's a constantly evolving process where you're always refining your knowledge. The world changes quickly as new social media platforms rise and fall. People's preferences also change. For example, many beauty care products and salons now target male as well as female customers. Demographics and market trends are always evolving. By constantly asking questions and accumulating data, you gain a better understanding of your audience that helps you serve them better.
How Can Act! Help?
Having a customer relationship management software is quickly becoming an outright necessity instead of a luxury. Mobile apps like Act! Companion make it easy to access vital customer information anywhere you go. Additionally, Act! helps business owners manage customer information, track performance, and plan for the future. Combined with dozens of integration options, from Outlook, to Dropbox to Facebook, Act! is built to be the center of your business’s world. Making it easier to do business instead of just managing it.