Of course, your product or service is amazing and you want as many people as possible to benefit from it, so why limit yourself by defining a specific target?
Well, getting specific in defining a target audience means that you can address the problems that they are facing, it means that you can speak to them in a way that will resonate with them, and it means that you can target them in a time- and cost-effective way.
How specific do you need to get?
Well, last week I heard about a business targeting women seeking happiness … who want to do yoga during their ‘time of the month’. The woman who created this business is, understandably, the leader in this niche and making a six-figure income as a result.
So how can you go about identifying your target audience?
As a startup or small business, you’re not going to have the big budgets to spend on focus groups and statistical research – but the good news is that there’s still plenty you can do without this. Here are 5 steps from shopper marketing expert Eveline Bettels to get you started…
5 steps to identifying and building on your target audience – by shopper marketing expert Eveline Bettels
1) Be clear on both the shopper and the consumer
The consumer and the shopper can be two different people. For example, when it comes to toys: the end consumer is the child but the shopper is actually the parent, most likely the mother. Your toy marketing should include some message to the shopper to convince her to buy your product, whilst making the toy itself desirable and fun for the kids (obviously!).
Where these are different, you will want to target both the shopper and the consumer. This is the case, for example, when it comes to gifting at key consumption periods such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Your ‘who’, and therefore your message, will be different at different ‘touch points’.
2) Look at the demographics of your potential target
Consider factors such as age, gender, social status, education, location, and so on. For instance, if you’re offering financial tax advice: whom are you going after? Are you targeting people with a simple one-income, no-kids household, or a married couple, double income, with two kids and a mortgage?
Once you have identified that, try to understand their concerns and possible needs in order to provide solutions to their problems. In the end, your product or service has to be relevant to their needs in the moment, and connect them to the answers that they’re looking for.
In the example of financial tax advice: A young family doesn’t necessarily have the time or knowledge to do this kind of tax calculation and your advice would be making something that is complex and time consuming very quick and easy for them. Hence, your marketing could be about how problem solving will lead to something even better (e.g. less hassle, more family quality time).
In the case of the toys example, try to understand the concerns of today’s parents, the shoppers: they may want to give children educational toys, made of sustainable material, without any harmful chemicals, and so on. Think of where they would be researching these topics and what the current search terms are within that category.
3) Think where and how you want to sell your product or service
What’s the right channel for your product or service? Purely online, or is it better to have face to face time with the client? The latter may be the case especially for highly emotional categories where personal advice is preferred, like cosmetics, skin care, fragrances, but also career advice, and so on.
Wherever you choose to be present, don’t underestimate the business-driving power of the internet. Even if you’re only selling offline, a nice website and the right ranking on a search results page can drive your brand awareness significantly. Also think about how the customer journey will bounce back and forth between online and offline.
When it comes to online, where exactly are your customers active? There’s no point in writing beautiful articles on your blog if your target audience is never going to read them! You can make some assumptions here based on age and gender, for example, Millennials are often found on Instagram and Snapchat, Pinterest has a largely female audience.
Today, mobile marketing is also a key enabler for driving brand awareness. 51% of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product when conducting a search on their smartphones.*
In essence, you have to anticipate the moments when and where potential future clients may interact with your brand or product, and then commit to being there to help answering their needs.
*Google Consumer Survey in the US, August 2015
4) Keep in mind today’s digital technology
Today’s technology allows anybody to be connected, at anytime, and anywhere in the world; make sure you’re present where your target is.
With an ever-growing smartphone penetration, shopping as we once knew it has evolved tremendously. Shoppers want to want to know, go, and buy swiftly. Your brand presence has to be appealing, fast and frictionless.
Thanks to social media, consumers have nowadays become key brand ambassadors. Use them to your advantage and respond equally to negative impressions. If somebody tweets something bad about your brand, product or services, respond immediately and prevent a negative spiral that will give you a bad word of mouth.
By the way, the number one key purchase influencer for any category is still family and friends – before any advertising or in-store communication. It’s the connection and exchange between family and friends that has changed, i.e. massively increased.
5) Do your research
You may not have the big budgets that big companies have to do quantitative research or fancy focus groups but there are still plenty of ways in which you can do effective research. Here are some ideas:
- Leverage your own circle of friends and family for feedback. There are free online questionnaires that you can create and send out (e.g. Zoomerang, Survey monkey, etc.).
- If you want to get unbiased comments and insights, you could potentially work with schools or universities and get them to do the research for you as a project.
- Depending on the client relationship, you may want to bounce some ideas with a handful of loyal clients or consumers. Make sure you reward them for their opinion and time; make them feel that they’re part of something important.
- Using your website, you can test and learn real time for a given period of time. Do a pre-/post- scenario, or simultaneous A/B test, and assess the immediate impact.
- Use free tools that are available online: Google Analytics, Google Trends and Think with Google are just a few examples. Consultancies also regularly publish articles on various topics: for example, BCG, Deloitte, Harvard Business Review, etc.