Even if you could afford to target everyone, it’s not a good idea.
Why? Because the success of our digital marketing (and business) happens based on determining our target audience and creating a strategy focused on reaching that group of consumers.
And no small business can afford to target everyone.
The way small businesses can compete is by identifying and targeting a niche market that makes sense for the products and services that are offered.
Even if you’re opting to say that you target “stay-at-home moms” or “homeowners” rather than “anyone interested,” that’s still too general.
But keep in mind that specific targeting is not intended to officially exclude people who don’t fall within your target. Rather, it’s about reaching the right group (who is more likely to buy from you than other groups) with the right message for them at that moment.
About 40.5 percent of consumers say they prefer seeing online ads for products targeted to their interests rather than random ads.
Of course, the importance of a target audience goes beyond marketing and actually plays a key role in your business plan that can be used to secure financing as well, as explained by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The following are seven tips to help you determine the target audience for your business.
Examine your customer base
It’s important to start by digging deeper into your customer database. Ask yourself:
- Who are your current customers?
- Why do your current customers buy from you?
- Which customers bring in the most business (i.e. are the most loyal)?
Be sure to take note of all common characteristics and interests among your best customers. It’s very likely that similar consumers would also benefit from your products and/or services as you’re looking at getting specific with your target audience.
A customer survey can help supplement some of the more detailed information about your customers. In addition, consider examining your social media following. Most platforms have various tools to better understand your audience, including:
Conduct a competitive analysis
Understanding who your competitors are targeting and who their current customers are can help give you insight into targeting opportunities.
This is not because you should similar target the same group. You definitely should not.
Instead, understanding who’s being targeted by your competitors can help you find a niche they might be missing (and that you can hone in on).
Doing so will help you gain insights into the audiences your competitors are after.
Analyze your products and/or services
Take the time to review everything you offer as a business. You can do this in a structured way by creating a list of features for each product or service you offer.
Then, break this down further by documenting the benefits each feature offers. Once you have a detailed list of benefits, you can brainstorm the people whose needs would be fulfilled by those benefits.
While this may still be too broad of a grouping to officially identify as your target audience, it can definitely get you going in the right direction.
Use social listening for deeper insights
Social listening is an excellent way to discover online conversations about your business, industry and/or products or services.
This tactic involves monitoring relevant keywords and hashtags that show what people are saying about your and even your competitors online (whether or not you’re tagged). Of course, the flip side of social listening goes beyond monitoring where you should actually be engaging with those consumers.
In the end, not only can social listening help you generate leads, it can also deepen your social media research that can feed into determining your target audience.
Identify specific demographics
Now is the time to get into the nitty gritty of your target audience. Based on the characteristics of your best customers and those who would most benefit from your products or services, determine the following demographics:
- Education level
- Income level
- Marital or family status
- Ethnic background
Evaluate what demographics are the most crucial for the growth of your business.
Go beyond the demographics
Once you’ve solidified the demographics of your target audience, take it one step further. Consider their psychographics, which are the personal characteristics of people.
- Interests or hobbies
Of course, psychographics go deeper than the surface demographics you’ve already determined.
Start by thinking through how your product or service fits into your ideal customer’s lifestyle. Ask such questions as:
- How will your ideal customer use your product or service?
- When will your ideal customer use it?
- What features of your product or service are most appealing to your ideal customer?
- How does your ideal customer consume media? Does he or she read the newspaper, attend particular events or search online?
- What social media channels does your ideal customer use?
Your questions don’t have to end there, of course, the better you build and understand the persona of your ideal customer (i.e. target audience), the more specific you can target.
Confirm your target audience
Once you feel confident that you have identified your target audience, it doesn’t hurt to evaluate and confirm your decision-making result.
It’s key to consider whether your target is large enough, or has it swung from being too broad to being too niche? Will your target audience actually benefit from your products or services? Do you fully understand what drives your target audience to make purchase decisions?
Of course, simpler considerations include whether your target audience can actually afford your product or service and whether you can actually reach them with your message (or are they not easily accessible)?
It’s entirely possible that you’ve identified more than just one target audience. This is absolutely fine as long as you differentiate your messaging between niches. For example, you wouldn’t address stay-at-home mothers the same as about-to-graduate college students.
Just know that while defining your target audience can be difficult, it’s worth the effort. You can then be that much more successful in your digital marketing efforts, which can lead to more sales.