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No matter what kind of business you run, you’ll inevitably have to accept a hard truth: You can’t make everyone happy all of the time.
Even with lots of money and time on your side, your offerings will appeal more to some people than others. Therefore, it becomes essential to figure out who your target audience is and how to reach them.
But how exactly are you supposed to figure out who your target audience is? What is the difference between target audience and target market? Is there a difference?
We understand these terms and questions can be confusing, which is why we’re here to help you solve those problems and give you examples of companies that successfully marketed their products the right way to their audience.
If you’re familiar with the term “target market,” you’re halfway to understanding target audiences. A target market defines the group you’re targeting with your products or services. It’s the group of people you believe will engage with you most often and spend the most money.
A target audience is an even more specific subsection of your target market: the people you’re trying to reach with your current marketing and promotion efforts.
Targeting a specific audience doesn’t mean other audiences don’t buy your product or use your services. Instead, target marketing allows you to focus your marketing efforts on a specific type of consumer that is more likely to buy from you versus a broad audience.
By honing in on who they are, what content they interact with, and what media they consume, you’ll reach a more relevant group with your hard-earned marketing resources.
Target audiences are sometimes also defined in terms of how much knowledge they have of your business’s industry.
Lay audiences have essentially no knowledge.
Managerial audiences have a working knowledge of the industry but may not grasp fine details.
Expert audiences have skilled knowledge and a generally deep understanding of the relevant material.
No matter which audience you target, they’ll expect the content to meet their level of understanding.
The process of finding your target audience can roughly be broken down into five steps…
- Analyzing your product or service
- Perform competitive and comparative analyses of your competitors
- Analyzing your social media insights
- Use Google Analytics to learn more about your current customers base
- Determining HOW your product or service will fit into your ideal user’s life and determining WHO that ideal user is
Let’s break these steps down one by one.
Whatever products, services, or other value you are presenting to potential customers and clients…think about who needs your offerings and what problems you’re solving for them.
What pain point does my product or service solve?
Is my produce or service easy to use?
Why would someone want to buy my product or service?
Once you figure this out, you next need to determine what kind of product or service your product or service is. If you’re selling athletic apparel, some questions you might want to ask yourself are: Are you selling high-end or bargain athletic apparel? Is this athletic apparel for men, women, youths, fitness instructors, people looking to lose weight, or seniors?
The second step is to research your competitors. A competitive analysis focuses on direct competitors who provide almost the same products/services. In contrast, a comparative analysis focuses on both direct and indirect competitors, including competitors that only offer a small portion of features similar to you.
Performing competitive and comparative analyses of these types of competitors helps you learn the benefits these alternatives offer, which can help you make and market your product better.
Creating a SWOT analysis is a great way to put all of your research into one place. A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning system used to help a brand identify its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to business competition or campaign planning.
All social media platforms have basic insight information into who is engaging with your content, how old they are, what their gender is, and even where they are from. These insights will immediately give you a general breakdown of who your target audience is comprised of.
You can also look at which posts do well and which are shared outside of your immediate network. Figuring out why these specific types of content are shared will help you determine what sort of value your audience enjoys the most.
Performing “social listening” is an excellent way to determine where your product or service needs adjustments.
Fourth, you should use Google Analytics to learn more about your customers. This platform can be used to discover how users find your site, what search words (keywords) they use, and a deeper understanding of their demographics.
Being able to comprehend how to use Google analytics for marketing purposes will help you find your target audience and learn how to help shape all of your marketing strategies and efforts.
The best part? Google Analytics is essentially free. They call it a “freemium” service, meaning that small businesses can use the service without paying a monthly charge, but if you want more advanced features or the ability to do more with the service, there is a recurring fee.
Neil Patel has an excellent blog here about taking full advantage of Google Analytics to create your marketing strategy.
By the time you get to this step, you should understand who you what your product or service is, why it’s different from your competitors, and who your target user really is based on social media and website insights.
The only thing left to do before you start reaching out to those audiences is to determine the answer to the following questions…
- How does my product or service fit into my audience’s life?
- How does it make their life better or easier?
- Who specifically would use my product or service?
- Who would benefit most from my product or service?
Once you have a firm idea of who your target audience is, do you know how you’re going to reach them? Like many small business marketing efforts, the answer is as much art as science, but specific techniques have proven pretty effective over the past few years.
First, you need to discover what social platforms your target audience is most active on. If they’re staying off Facebook, it doesn’t make much sense to pay for ads on that platform, after all. Compare engagement numbers on the major platforms and see what’s causing the most noise.
Almost every social network has a mountain of data allowing them to understand their users very specifically. You’ll be able to use all the information you’ve collected thus far to create the most effective and specific targeting of their ad programs.
It would help if you also were sure to utilize existing online communities. Your audience has a favorite gathering place on the internet, whether a Facebook group, Youtube channel or independent forum. There are often productive and exciting ways to use these communities to spread your message.
Above all, make it easy for your target audience to find you.
Engage with them, and let the world know your brand remains active and relevant. Keep a sharp eye out for anyone talking about your business online.
Amplify positive experiences, and do your reasonable best to make up for negative ones. Answer questions, and celebrate interesting or humorous observations made about your work. Use popular and relevant hashtags to connect with people enjoying the trends of the day.
Ultimately, reaching your target audience is about knowing your brand and how people respond to it. Target is an excellent example of a company that understands its brand and its target audience.
Target is known for being a store with tons of appealing impulse purchases for your home and kitchen, all at reasonable prices. You’ve probably heard this joke or something similar: “You don’t bring a shopping list to Target. Target tells you what you need!”
Taking advantage of this reputation, Target posted this image on Facebook:
It racked up over 23 thousand likes and nearly 2.5 thousand shares. The audience responded to this fun, humorous take on an experience they could relate to.
Target also makes it easy to shop for anything featured in their Instagram photos by linking the images on its feed to their corresponding weblink. Additionally, they often repost photos uploaded by shoppers and bloggers using their products on Instagram to humanize their social-media campaigns. Again- amplifying that “gotta have it” impulse purchase mindset.
Coachella, on the other hand, has cultivated a more exclusive image. It’s today known for being a music festival for the hip, unique, and trendsetting. However, the inaugural Coachella festival in 1999 was a financial disaster.
Less than half of the target audience for the event showed up. Coachella organizers analyzed what went wrong, and a large part of the problem was the perception of the festival.
They started cultivating a more “authentically cool” image by reaching out to popular influencers, websites, and outlets that projected a sense of being more exclusive and tied to the cutting edge.
Since then, attendance has gone up over 500%, reaching a record-breaking $84.2 million in 2015. Coachella found out what their target audience wanted to hear- and they found a way to say it to them through word-of-mouth and influencer marketing.
While you may not have the resources of these major corporations, the principles of how to reach target audiences remain the same. Research, analysis, and comparison are the building blocks of discovering your target audience. Once this hard work is done, your marketing efforts will benefit tremendously from this smart, targeted approach.
However, it takes a lot of effort to keep up with this research and put your insights to use. Don’t go it alone- go with Zoek. Our SEO strategies will allow you to reach your target audience with less time and effort, and our experienced team will be here to help you along the way.
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