When you are thinking about starting a brand or running one, one of the most important questions to ask yourself is 'If this brand didn't exist, who would care?' The answer to this question cannot be everyone - it is more likely a very small group of people with specific demographic and psychographic information. This is your target audience - the ones who will love your brand as you start out and be with you as you grow.
Too many brands drift along thinking that they have an offering and people that want it will buy it - simple. But while other brands are like lost souls drifting through the cold darkness in a world filled with ineffective brands, you can be different by simply knowing who you are truly providing value for. While I've seen a lot of blogs and content about what a target audience is, I haven't seen a lot of blogs explain how to use data to find out the ideal target audience or what to then do when you have found your target audience. If this appeals, this blog is for you. I will cover:
1) What is a target audience
2) Why is a target audience important to have
3) Does having a target audience limit your business growth
4) How do you find a target audience
5) What to do with this information
This is the group most interested in buying your product or service. This group has distinct demographic and psychographic information which makes them particularly likely to be interested in your brand.
Psychographic Information - psychological variables (such as attitudes, values, or fears)
Demographic Information - these are the characteristics of population groups eg. age, social status, wealth, gender, location, Occupation, education etc.
Often, businesses make the error of trying to cater to everyone. The problem is that not everyone has the same needs, aesthetic tastes, fears of desires. If you try and cater to everyone, you will be an ineffective, beige and forgotten brand.
In 2021, we now see on average 6000 - 10000 pieces of advertising every day (compared to 500 – 1600 ads seen daily in the 1970’s). There are 5.9 million businesses operating in the UK alone. If your business is an e-commerce website, be aware the there is plenty of competition - the UK is the leading e-commerce market in Europe with $141.93 billion in e-commerce sales is perhaps worth knowing.
What I’m trying to illustrate is that the average consumer is there is more business competition now than any other time in history and people are bombarded with noise from companies constantly. If you don’t have a clearly defined group of customers you’re trying to reach, it will be hard to create a brand identity, brand messaging, marketing etc. that truly resonates with anyone.
For people to truly resonate with your brand, you need to make them feel like you are speaking directly to them.
Nb. When you start a business, it is far more risky to try and appeal to everyone than a very tight target group (also known as a minimum viable audience).
I often get asked ‘If I have a defined target audience, will that deter other groups that don’t exactly fit in to that target audience group?’
No. You choose a target audience to directly speak to and resonate with a very tight group of people – you know their fears and desires, their favourite social media platform, the language they speak, their hobbies, they brands they love etc. However, this is not to say that other people won’t find your product or service appealing and may well buy from you –they are just not the target.
What you’re trying to do is identify your ideal client – these are the ones who will be the first to try your brand offering and enthusiastically use your new product or service. They will tell their friends, share your social media posts, and be key to your success.
As you business grows, this core group of followers who truly love your brand will grow. This will attract the early adopters who will further promote your brand and act as trendsetters.
The point is though, you need to identify a tiny section of a potential market who you think will love your brand the most. This is critical or your brand will be forgotten about because it won’t truly resonate with anyone.
Don’t try and be liked by everyone. Just try and be loved by a few.
Read Purple Cow by Seth Godin to understand this idea further.
What people normally do is have an educated guess at who their target audience is. If I’m working with a start-up, I always ask who they believe their ideal client is in the first meeting with. Normally, the client will say something like ‘Men and women between 18 – 35,’ as if that really narrows the field. With technology, we can look at objective facts.
Look at the clients you already have and then work out patterns. Even if you a tiny start up and have had only 20 customers so far, what are the trends? What is common among them? Where do they hang out online?What is their social status? What brands do they buy from? What is their income?
I recommend putting all the data in to an excel sheet so that you can start to see clear patterns.
If you’re a start up with no customers yet, I recommend looking at competitor data. Go through their social media and see who comments on. their posts. Who is most active and engageing with their brands? What is working well? Which brands are they collaborating with? What isn't working well? What kind of person is loving their brand and who isn't being served particularly well by them? Then you can make a specific target audience group having got some data.
Other methods and tools to do this are:
See key words, demographic information and other useful things to inform who is looking for what.
Similar to SEM Rush, find out what people are search for and the interest depending on geographic location. Free too!
Trust Pilot allows a deep dive snoop to find out the good and bad of individual brands but also the different kinds of people that are loving and hating the brand.
Find out very intense granularity different segments of populations that are engaging with Facebook pages. A bit creepy but very powerful to find out data for target audience research.
Then put these insights together and find patterns. Then, you can have a really clear picture of the demographic and psychographic information of the target audience you are trying to truly resonate with. Below, I used the example of research distilled for a yoga studio that already has some users but wants to work out who their target audience is to grow their client base:
With this info, you can see patterns. In this example above with a fictional yoga studio, it’s obvious that the yoga studio has patterns with it’s customers. What this means is that rather than focus it’s efforts trying to get men who are over married 30+ years old with kids to come to their studio, they would be much better off attracting more women like Lisa.
But then how do they go about attracting more Lisa’s to their yoga studio? Well now you know who your target audience is and the problems they face, you can go about making useful content that provides value to them. You can also cater to them better in your business services. You can connect with them deeper than any other brands in your niche because you can provide more value to them than any other brand. Here are some examples of what I mean looking at the Yoga studio as an example:
Interestingly, 65% of the current yoga studio users we recommended by a friend. Perhaps the studio could do a 2 for 1 night on a weekday when the studio is quieter – then, people may be encouraged to bring friends.
Or, we could note that 61% of current studio users have an income of over 50K a year. Could they offer a premium package alongside their current offerings to encourage the more wealthy yoga users the chance to feel premium and cared for – access to exclusive yoga tutorials online as well as in person, a courtesy yoga mat and yoga retreats to the south of France for example.
Perhaps we could look at the reasons why people are doing yoga – Lisa works in an office and therefore has back pain after sitting at her desk all day. She’s also anxious because of the office politics and depressed because she feels undervalued in her corporate job (can you tell I wouldn't suit a corporate job?).
Creating blog posts, IG content and perhaps YouTube videos about these topics might attract more Lisa’s by providing answers to problems they may also have.
There are so many different ways that you could take the information you have gathered from a deep dive on your target audience and it completely depends on what you’re brand is.
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