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Define Your Target Audience: Hit A Brand Bullseye!

The psychology of sales is simple: once you understand why a consumer buys a certain product, you can customize your pitch to speak to their reasoning.

But before you can discover why they buy, you need to know who they are.

Investigating who your potential buyers are is known as market research. In order to help you align your brand with a customer base, you need to find out who that customer base is. And we call that customer base your target audience.

Market research will allow you to define your target audience, as well as other important information such as your competition. It will let you understand your buyers personas, so you can curate your brand persona to fit.

This probably all sounds ideal for your business, right? But how do you actually determine your target audience?

Well, by the end of this article you’ll be able to answer that for yourself!

The 3 Audience Layers

The goal with defining your audience should always be to narrow it down. Niche marketing is the best way to grow a new business, or to expand a brand.

You want to tap into a small group of people with a big interest in your business.

That said, your target audience still has 3 separate layers to keep in mind. They are the people:

  • Who will buy from you
  • Who influence your buyers
  • Who support you

While there may be overlap, it’s worth keeping in mind that individuals may fall into only one of these categories. So how you focus on each layer is important.

People who will buy from you are your bread and butter. They are the largest and most important part of your audience, because without them you literally can’t do business.

People who influence your buyers are worth paying attention to for several reasons. Obviously, they already hold sway in your audience’s minds, so they can exert their influence to create positive (or negative) opinions about your brand. They can also drive actions by having their followers repeat what they see. But perhaps even more valuable is the fact that you can learn from them how to become an influencer as well.

People who support you are the reason you get up in the morning. They are not necessarily customers or clients, but rather the people who are invested in your success because they care about you and your story. These could be people like teachers, mentors, family members, co-workers, and past clients no longer in need of your services. They are people that you want to give back to with your brand, and it’s important to keep them as engaged with your brand’s journey as your potential buyers.

Profiles and Personas

Now that you have a way to categorize your target audience, it’s time to fill in the details.

There are 2 sets of information you can assemble about a member of your audience. They are a customer profile, and a customer persona.

Both are ways to describe what your ideal client looks like, but whereas a profile is real information about their demographic and economic details, a persona is a fictional personality of someone who is deeply connected to your brand.

Profiles most commonly include these details:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Education
  • Purchasing power
  • Social class
  • Location
  • Language
  • Consumption habits

***B2B(Business 2 Business) businesses should also consider the size of their target business, and the positions/titles of people who make buying decisions.

These are all aspects of your audience that are tangible. On the other hand, a Persona details things like:

  • Personal characteristics
  • Challenges
  • Lifestyle
  • Interests
  • Values
  • Social media habits
  • Professional ambitions

For an example, let’s say you were selling a men’s weekend workshop on professional development.

An audience profile could be something like “Men, 18-30, with a college degree who earn $2,000-3,000 a month in Kingston, Ontario, and who have recently bought a self-help book”.

Notice how we could easily tell whether someone does or doesn’t match that profile? Personas are a bit more colourful and less black and white. Something like:

“Young men looking to advance their career but struggling, with a vested interest in business studies, who value being seen as successful, and highly motivated”

Some people might match that persona description more than others. While it’s slightly more vague, don’t you feel like you know who the person in the second example is on a personal level, instead of just as a statistic?

Start by assessing your customers profile, then learn to understand them through the lens of their persona.

Market Research Methods

Now that we know what sort of information we need to build a client profile and persona, the question remains: how do we find out that information?

The short answer is that there’s a long list of techniques you can use to perform market research. We’re going to cover some of the most common and effective methods right now.

Existing Customers

If you’re going to do some digging into “what sort of people would buy from me?”, the best place to start is your own backyard.

Compile a list of data about your current clients and examine it for trends. What is the average age? Or the most common location?

Instead of writing a persona for a hypothetical person, describe what types of personalities the people have who are already engaging with your brand.

A/B Testing

As you market your business, try differentiated campaigns.

These are when you run 2 or more ads simultaneously with only minor variations between them, to see which one is more successful.

For instance, if you want to start a pet sitting business, you could run two Facebook ads — one with a picture of a dog, and one with a picture of a cat — to see which type of pet owner is most responsive to your message.

Social Listening

You don’t have to be a fortune 500 analytics firm to do a bit of research. In fact, you can listen in on customer conversations completely free — right on social media!

You can go anywhere and everywhere to see what people are talking about. People will be brutally honest online, talking about their pain points with certain products or opening up about unmet needs.

Check places like Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any place people talk about the types of things that your brand does.

Surveys

Not finding answers to your specific questions? Try a classic market research survey!

Make sure to get a large and diverse group of people if you’re just starting out your investigation so you can avoid bias. If you already know your demographic, but want to learn more from them, narrow down your group to match what you know about your audience so far.

Try to do surveys in a controlled environment to avoid interference from outside sources. If you need help, consider hiring a team to help you conduct your survey.

Competition

They say if you can’t beat them, join them. But the truth is, you have to join their ranks if you want to beat them in the first place.

Using market reports, social media analytics, or just plain old Google-sleuthing, you should be able to determine your target audience based on the places that you and a competitor overlap.

As you research your competition, keep in mind that you may compete with certain businesses in some aspects, but not all. For instance, you might both sell the same product, but it’s only one out of hundreds of other products you both sell. Be wary not to conflate your brand with wrong ones.

Final Thoughts

Luxury car manufacturer Maserati improved their sales dramatically when they stopped trying to sell their cars at car shows.

Why? Because they started trying to sell them at private jet shows instead. People who just dropped millions on a new plane don’t bat an eye when it comes to spending $300k on a new car too. And because of niche marketing, they removed the competition.

See, what happened is they defined their audience, and got to understand them. They knew exactly who they were, and because of that they knew exactly what context was best to sell them on their product.

They were really able to get into the mindset of their audience by taking the time to define it. And now, you can too.

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