With years of experience building custom marketing strategies for small businesses, we know how it is to feel lost when trying to reach the correct target audience. The stress that comes from constantly competing with larger companies and other small businesses with services similar to your own — on top of trying to successfully sell a product — is exhausting.
We often hear the phrase “everyone is our customer!” when discussing who their ideal customer is.
It’s common for small business owners to assume they need to target everyone and consider everyone their client to sell more products. When you fail to target the right audience, you can potentially waste thousands of dollars — and as a small business, we understand that every dollar matters.
Stop throwing money at broad marketing campaigns and seeing where it sticks!
Targeting a niche group doesn’t mean you’re excluding other potential customers. Instead, you’re putting yourself in a position to craft a better marketing strategy that speaks to your ideal buyers and helps you dominate your industry.
So… what is a target audience?
A target audience is a specific group of people who are most likely to engage with and be interested in your services. Most target audiences are united by common characteristics, like age, economic status, gender, consumption habits and location.
At Collective Alternative, analyzing a client’s target audience is one of the first steps in the creation and implementation of our marketing strategies. With a defined target audience, it’s easier to tailor your marketing strategy to effectively reach your customer base and make the most impact.
Why do you need to define your target audience?
When you don’t define your target audience, your messaging can’t effectively reach people. You just become another source of chatter that will ultimately be ignored. Humans consume so much information every day, so general messaging that doesn’t hit the pain points of a target audience will not have any impact on the population. And when you can’t reach customers, you can’t do business.
How do you find your target audience?
Depending on your small business, your target audience might be extremely niche or a little bit broader. No matter which end of the spectrum you fall on, there are six things we recommend that you do to define your target audience.
- Compile data on your current customers
Start with those who already engage with your product or service. Since your current customer base is most likely to do business with you again, you should look through it and identify any trends like age, location, gender and socioeconomic status.
- Conduct social listening
See what people are saying about you, and your services, online. Searching specific keywords on social media platforms like Twitter or forums like Reddit will help you better understand the frustrations, appreciations and interests of those who would engage with your business.
For example, if you’re a small business owner who sells eyeglasses, searching ‘glasses’ on Twitter or Reddit will help you uncover what people think about other eyeglass sellers, what they dislike about their current glasses, and maybe even what they’d prefer in a new pair of specs.
Don’t be afraid to devote quite a bit of time to social listening. At Collective Alternative, we believe deep diving into your industry helps you better understand those who use your product and figure out how to stand out against the competition. We use the knowledge we gather from social listening and other forms of research to create more strategic marketing strategies for our clients.
- Look at your competitors
It is highly likely that your target audience will be like the target audiences of your competitors. Research your competitors and see what types of people are buying from them. This is a great way to establish a baseline for your target audience and then better create a plan for segmenting even further to develop your specific niche.
Continuing our eyeglass seller example…while doing research on other eyeglass sellers in your area, you noticed that none of them sell protective eyeglasses for athletes to wear during competition. If that’s part of your business, you would know that you should target athletes who prefer to wear their glasses during their sport.
- Define who your target audience isn’t
This may seem silly, but sometimes one of the best ways to start is to cross out any individuals who would not engage with your services. As an eyeglass seller, you’re not going to sell glasses to those who do not need them. Removing these individuals from your potential target audience makes the process of defining even easier.
- Create customer personas
Customer personas are profiles of your ideal customers. Each persona is a fictional character with their own story that gives a deeper dive into what exactly they want from your brand. Most businesses will have an average of 3-5 personas that make up their overall target audience.
As an eyeglass seller, one of your personas might be high school athletes who wear glasses during their sport. They could be tired of breaking glasses during competition and desperate for a solution that saves them, or their parents, money and feels like a natural extension of their uniform. You could also have another persona that is a child. They’re afraid to wear their glasses due to potential teasing from their peers, so they want glasses that are stylish and don’t stick out.
When you create customer personas, you can better understand the pain points of your target audience and create marketing tactics that address solutions to their problems.
- Revisit and revise
The needs of the general population changes over time, as do yours. Don’t be afraid to revisit your target audience and adjust as you bring in more business. As you gather more data, you’ll develop a more accurate understanding of your target audience and figure out how to better serve them. We recommend compiling and assessing data monthly to see how your business is performing.
How do you reach your target audience?
Once you’ve defined your target audience, you need your messaging to reach them in order to make an impact. A comprehensive marketing strategy ensures that your business is heard within your industry, and by your customers and community.
There are various tactics within a marketing strategy that can be used to reach your target audience, including social media, email campaigns and paid advertising. We recommend working with industry professionals who can serve as a guide for your marketing efforts to ensure you’re effectively reaching your target audience. At Collective Alternative, we are experts at creating marketing strategies that are as unique as your thumbprint and best help you reach the target audience you worked so hard to define.
Interested in learning more about defining your target audience?
In the latest episode of our Making Business Personal® Podcast, our host, Levi Tragesser, sits down with Johnny Goode, Vice President of MSP Manufacturing to discuss how we helped his small business adjust its target audience to stay competitive amid the COVID-19 pandemic.