UNDERSTANDING YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
If your product, service, or overall brand isn’t resonating with your consumers, you have a major problem. But you can’t fix it until you understand who youraudience is and what they care about.
The difference in your strategy could be anything from changing the image in your display ad to changing your entire branding to resonate with your audience–but in the end, the efforts will be so worth it.
In this guide, we will help you understand who your audience is through strategic research and consumer reflection and help you build your buyer personas for better marketing.
Step by step, we’ll help you understand your target audience through these five sections:
1. Who Is Your Target Audience And Why Do You Care
2. How To Understand Who Your Target Audience Is
3. Identifying Overarching Ideal Characteristics4. Research Process
5. Building The Buyer Personas
WHO IS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE AND
WHY DO YOU CARE?
Before you decide what your message is and how to deliver it, you need to understand your target audience.
A target audience is a particular, defined group that your marketing efforts are aimed to, who are more than likely going to be interested in your product or service.
For example: if you own a lawn care company, your target audience is going to be owners of property. If you own a boat dealership, your target audience is going to be owners of waterside property.
It’s important to keep in mind your audience should include decision makers and influencers (those who influence decision makers).
For example: if you own a store at Disney World, your target audience is more than likely parents, grandparents, and anyone else with children in their lives (decision makers) and the children (who will greatly influence the parent’s choice).
This audience, once defined, should be on your team’s mind during the creation of every asset,from business cards to blogs. That’s why it’s imperative that everyone is on the same page about who this audience is.
If not, you risk your assets (branding) being steered in a negative direction or a multitude of directions, ultimately confusing your audience and creating a bad fit and poor quality traffic.
For example: imagine coordinating a 5K event with your health enthusiast audience. If your team decided to do an advertisement of someone napping, your marketing efforts would likely fall flat.
This is because your health enthusiast audience will not resonate with the advertisement. You might get traffic–but it will be an audience that is interested in a good nap, instead of interested inbeing active and outdoors.
High traffic might seem exciting when you initially see a spike in Google Analytics, but when you watch the majority of those contacts unsubscribe and fall out of your CRM, you’ll understand the disappointment of poor quality traffic. You’ll be stuck with a lot of traffic at the top of your funnel, and nothing for yoursales team.
(You can also see this in Google Analytics when your website has a high bounce rate and/ or low pages per session.)
At the end of the day, if your marketing efforts aren’t aligned with your audience, you won’t see the conversions you need.
HOW TO UNDERSTAND WHO YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE IS
First you need to understand your own product and service at the basic level.
Who is buying this product/service?
Who could benefit from buying this product/service?
(Which is not always the same.)
After answering these questions, you might find your target audience becomes either very narrow-focused or very broad.
For example: if you’re selling pageant bows, your audience is limited to pageant contestants. But, if you’re selling bows for different occasions, your opinion of your target audience could open up to themany, many people that could benefit from bows.
If your audience is broad instead of niche, consider targeting a “goal” audience. A goal audience is a micro-audience (that your company wants to target) within your entire audience (that your company could target).
A restaurant, for example, could do marketing for anyone (because everyone can benefit from eating) but it wouldn’t be impactful marketing. Instead, McDonalds, Subway, and Cheesecake Factory go after their own specific audiences (and occasionally catch a few people out of their audience).
You’ll need to ask yourself different questions depending on if you are B2B (selling to other businesses) or B2C (selling straight to customers).
If you’re selling your product or services to other businesses (B2B):
What is the vertical you have the most success in? Is there a goal vertical that you want to get into or vertices you definitely do not want to get into?
If you’re a marketing consultant, maybe you prefer companies that are B2C or companies that are in the technology industry.
Or maybe it’s a size concern. You can measure size of companies by many different metrics, but most commonly it’s by the number of employees or revenue.
For example: I want to work with companies that have over 50 employees.
Or I want to work with companies who make over $5 million in revenue.
Your price per service and bandwidth limits have to be taken into
consideration. If you’re expecting a huge company to work with your startup, take a step back and think about what your team can realistically handle. You might need to focus on smaller companies to proveyour value, first.
If you’re selling your product or service straight to consumers (B2C):
Think about your product and service and think about who it makes the most sense for.
Is it expensive and exclusive or is it budget-friendly?
Is it something that would benefit a specific lifestyle?
(For example: diapers for new moms, or cleats for young boys who like soccer, etc.)
Thinking about these things early on helps you establish who you want to target.
Some companies are fortunate to fit their target audience with their current product, while others have to change their product or service to accommodate the community they want to enter.
For example: refining your sunglasses design for a more modern look (for millenials) or making your diapers more hip for your mom demographic.
IDENTIFYING OVERARCHING IDEAL
In general, your company wants clients who are...
To really nail down your goal audience, it’s great to layout your core overarching characteristics you want from every customer.
This can be things like “minimum budget of x”, or has a need for “x product”, or even personality traits like “is organized” or “is timely” if that is the best client-fit for you.
Look at your current customer base
The first place to look is within your current customer base. B2B or B2C, there are many different waysyou could potentially interact with your audience: maybe you encounter your customers in a retail setting or have them as lists in a CRM, or maybe your only tracking of them is to look at followers of your social media accounts.
Any way is a good way, because you will be getting an interpretation of who enjoys your product or service and brand personality.
Ask yourself: Who are your customers/clients? Who do you feel like is having a positive experience withyour company? Why do you feel this is?
Check out your competition
In your reflection, it might be helpful to look at your competitors’ websites and social media accounts.What content are they putting out and who are they going after?
It most likely won’t be as simple as copying their target audience (because your services and personalitiesare not the exact same), but it’s a good indication of which industries and customers could benefit fromthe solution you offer.
Get industry data
Finally, head to the computer. Do a deep search of your industry’s current trends and the current trends in your customer’s industry. If you’re focused on teachers, maybe you will find news about their current challenges with the wage gap that you weren’t as familiar with (because it’s not your day-to-day.)
Knowing the challenges and day-to-day of your decision makers andinfluencers will help you understand why they could benefit fromyour product or service.
A great place to start is by defining your industry through industry codes. Companies can be categorized by their SIC and NAICS codes, found here. Using these codes, you can research publications and statistics on your industry and your customers’ industry.
BUILDING THE BUYER PERSONAS
The result of all your work - and the beginning of great marketing efforts.
A persona is a fictitious profile that helps describe who your ideal buyer is, how they behave, their pain points andthought processes.
Building out personas will help you define who is in your market segment and enable you to create content thatwill connect them with your company. It is not uncommon to have multiple personas which can be categorized into primary, secondary and negative personas.
Buyer personas are determined by the different buying patterns operating within your target audiences.
There are three buyer personas to consider.
These personas, coupled with where they are in the buyer’s journey, should help you to tailor more effective messaging:
COMPETITOR COMPANY: potential client is dissatisfied with current servicer.
PASSIVE BUYER: potential client doesn’t have a service.
(Identified through industry triggers)
ACTIVE BUYER: potential client doesn’t have your service but expresses interest.
The final product you build will be the buyer personas, which will be the most detailed section. These are detailed fictional people you can imagine you’re speaking to in your content.
They are based on the decision makers and influencers you found in all your research. You can identify their challenges, their day-to-day operations, their salary, etc.
Then, when you’re writing content, you can speak to these challenges and really relate to your audience on another level. You can identify areas of your product/service that help these challenges and become a friend to your audience.
It’s this mindset that changes a brand from general and mechanic to “your friends at x company”.
Here are a few examples of personas (for a company wanting to sell a vegan supplement):
VEGGIE LOVIN' BRIANNA
Age: 23 years old
Location: Suburban/ Urban
• Researches vegan/ vegetarian products frequently
• Vegetarian groups, influencers and health trends
• Pill fatigue, wants more convenient supplement options
• Finds vegan recipes and huge for diet recipes on Pinterest
HEALTH NUT KEVIN
Age: 32 years old
Location: Suburban/ Urban
• Studied Sports Nutrition
• Interested in healthy topics and trends
• Exercises at least 3-4 times a week
• Follows fitness influencers onYouTube, Facebook, and Instagram
• Member of a localfitness group
Wants to lean out - plant-based diet
Vegan lifestyle change
Wants to switch up training
Influential bloggergoes plant-based
Age: 50 years old
Married empty nester
Active lifestyle (walks,
goes to gym, does
Actively seeks healthy
choices and growing old "gracefully" trends
Suffers from "pill fatigue"
Spouse or self- diagnosed with illness
Needs to pay greater attention to health
NEED HELP? REACH OUT!
Use this guide to get started on your personas. Try to remember that while it’simportant to reach a lot of traffic, focusing your efforts on certain segments that will be a good fit for your company and that are genuinely interested inyour service/product will ultimately put more money in your pocket.
People need a personal connection with the brand to “buy into” a product or service.
They need to relate to the tone and content of the message. By striking a chord with someone, a personal connection is made, and trust is established.
If you find yourself stuck, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be more than happy to answer any questions and help you get back on track.