Struggling to pinpoint your audience? Here are several ways to find your target consumers.
- When you target your audience, you save the time and money of advertising to groups that aren't likely to be interested in your product.
- Taking the time to research and plan out your marketing campaign strengthens your connection with consumers and improves customer engagement.
- It's important to have a clear and consistent message in your branding, which makes it easier for consumers to connect to your business.
- This article is for business owners who want to learn how to better relate and market to their target audience.
Knowing who will buy your product or service is a key part of creating a thriving business. Businesses need to specifically define their target audience early on. If you are looking to improve the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and boost customer engagement, you need to follow seven steps to create a marketing plan that reaches your target.
What is a target audience?
A target audience is a group of consumers who are likely to be interested in your product or service. Many companies base their search on traits like gender, age, occupation, location, socioeconomic status and education level.
It's in your best interest to find your target market, because when you know which groups to advertise to, you save money, time and resources that would be wasted on marketing to consumers who aren't interested in your products or services.
Key takeaway: Your target audience is the group of consumers who are most likely to be interested in your product or service.
Why is it important to identify your target audience?
Getting the word out about your business is important, but each consumer wants something different, so it could be a waste of time to advertise to some groups. Putting more time and resources into a region, demographic or class of buyers who are more likely to purchase your product will help you effectively allocate your marketing budget.
"At the beginning, most people have a pretty good idea of who will use their product," said Lindsey Myers, founder of Concrete Blonde Consulting. "The more specific you can get [with your strategy], the easier it is to reach those people for less money … and also to find new audiences and grow."
It's valuable to know whom your product appeals to. This gives you audience insight and the opportunity to conduct a market analysis on what your ideal customer looks like. You can also research and study their needs and interests to improve your content marketing strategy. Doing this can help you foster relationships with customers, which can build trust and loyalty while also boosting customer engagement.
Key takeaway: Identifying your target audience is important because it can save you the time, money and resources of advertising to the wrong prospects.
Tips for identifying and reaching your target audience
It is key to your business's survival to understand who your consumers are. Myers suggests these seven tips to uncover and connect to your target audience.
1. Have a concrete plan.
To reach your target customer, you first need a definite marketing plan.
"The more specific you can be, the more bang for your buck you're going to get in your conversion rate," Myers said.
To draw up a buyer persona (your target customer profile), consider where your customers get their information, what other interests they have, their social media use, their geographic region and other demographics. You can use your company's Facebook Insights or other social media analytics as a guide. A clearly defined customer profile and marketing plan allows you to reach your target demographic as economically as possible. [Read related article: Everyone Is Not Your Customer, and That's OK]
"The more specific you can get [with your strategy], the easier it is to reach those people for less money," Myers said. "Don't spend money for 10 people to hear your message when only three people are going to buy it."
Key takeaway: Research your target consumers beforehand so you can prepare the proper marketing materials and strategy for your audience.
2. Create benchmarks.
In addition to a concrete plan, Myers recommends setting clear benchmarks to track your performance.
"Start with your goals," she said. "You need something to reach for and also something to benchmark against."
Set benchmarks for how well your marketing strategy converts leads into customers, what you're spending on your marketing campaign and the revenue you earn as a result. Be sure to track not just the overall results of your marketing, but how specific strategies convert. For example, if you run an ad, include a discount code that customers can use when they make an order. Otherwise, you won't know whether they found your company through the ad or another source.
"Track where leads are coming from so you know what is and isn't effective ... so you can adjust your spend later," said Myers. "Then, if something's not working, you try something else."
Key takeaway: Create a way to track your marketing so you can determine whether it's reaching consumers.
3. Clarify your message.
Marketing is all about message, Myers says. One of the most common mistakes she sees businesses make is not having a clear message.
"A lot of business owners ... typically aren't great at crafting a message because they're so incredibly invested in [their business]," said Myers. "[You should] communicate in one sentence or less what you are selling and why someone should care."
Giving your audience a reason to care is an essential part of creating a marketing plan that reaches them. Use your target customer profile to identify their pain points, then create a concise, clear message that focuses on the ways your business solves those problems.
Key takeaway: A clear message is key to connecting with consumers. Be direct and straightforward about your vision to give them a clear understanding of what you offer.
4. Bring in an outsider.
Because business owners are so personally invested in and knowledgeable about their products, someone outside your company should look at your marketing plan to make sure your strategy will resonate with your intended audience.
"This is the biggest piece of advice I always give," said Myers. "You can't do everything yourself. Consider a marketing consultant to help you put together a strategic plan, or at least talk to an expert to help you come up with a strategy. If you can't afford a marketing consultant, ask a friend. Bounce some ideas off someone on the outside."
By sharing your plan with someone who has some distance from your business, you'll get a clearer sense of how likely someone is to respond to your marketing the way you want.
Key takeaway: Ask for an outside opinion about your marketing plan. When you're knee-deep in building your strategy, it's easy to overlook issues or lose sight of the customer.
5. Consider strategic partnerships.
Part of your target customer profile should be about where your audience can already be found: the media they consume, activities they enjoy and locations they visit. These are places where your marketing is most likely to be seen by your target customers.
"Think about strategic partnerships," said Myers. "The best place to start in terms of marketing is to think about where these people are already gathered together in one place."
To identify potential partnerships, think about what businesses or media channels have already attracted your customers.
"Look for businesses that aren't competitors but already service those audiences," Myers said. Then, you can approach them with ideas for mutually beneficial partnerships, such as advertising, joint promotions or discounts.
Key takeaway: See if you can partner with other businesses your audience visits to boost your consumer traffic and expand your marketing reach.
6. Have a realistic timeline.
Though you want to start making sales quickly, a key part of reaching your target customers is having the patience to allow your marketing to work.
"The biggest mistake I see businesses make is … they don't give something enough time to work," said Myers. "Marketing is like using a personal trainer … You're not going to see results overnight."
Your marketing plan should include a timeline, allowing each strategy enough time to succeed or fail before you move on to the next step. This includes being realistic about the time of year and how seasonal changes will affect your customers' needs and interests.
"If you see that something is failing terribly, OK, scrap that, move the money somewhere else," Myers said. "But most people don't read something about you once and then buy ... there is a frequency of impressions you need to make on one person before they move to action."
Key takeaway: Be honest with yourself about how long it will be until you see results from your marketing strategy.
7. Focus on relationships.
In many cases, the best way to market is to think less about marketing and more about relationships. Rather than focusing on how you can sell to your target audience, create a plan that builds their trust in your business and shows that you understand them.
This process takes time, which comes back to being realistic about how long you should give each part of your strategy to work. It also takes a community, including those strategic partnerships.
"Marketing is really about building relationships ... not just taking, but something you can offer them too," said Myers.
She says the most successful companies she has worked with focus on investing in that community around them, from their customers to their colleagues.
"No one ever becomes successful on their own ... if you watch the Oscars, people always have a lot of other people to thank," she added. "Givers gain."
Key takeaway: Build a relationship with your clients to show them you're listening to their concerns and interested in what they want.
Simone Johnson contributed to the writing in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.