Start Defining Your Target Audience With These 10 Questions

The very first step in any communication or marketing strategy is defining your target audience so you can tailor your message or pitch appropriately. For businesses, this is usually your typical potential buyers of a product or service. For a nonprofit, it could be potential clients for a program, volunteers for an initiative, advocates to spread a message, or donors to support a cause.

One of the biggest mistakes that budding personal branders make is trying to appeal to everyone. Think about the game of darts: You have to aim in order to hit the board. If you don’t have a dart board you’re aiming at nothing.

There are many ways to go about discovering the ideal person. You must define their demographics and psychographics.

Below are some examples of things to think about that would get you started.

1. How Old is my Ideal Client?

Defining an age range for a your ideal audience is a very basic but great first step that has to be considered. You may feel that you appeal to all ages. In that case you need to create segments and prioritize them. If you try to reach everyone, you won’t reach anyone.  If you were running a socially conscious progressive media platform, anyone can read that but you’d likely get more attention from the younger generation, therefore, you’d probably want to prioritize your efforts around them. You can always expand your targeting later when you have captured that first segment.

2. Is my Ideal Customer Male or Female?

Women make most of the buying decisions in families, but some products or services tend to garner men’s attention more. If a small business caters to both sexes, that’s also important to know. If you’re not sure, you can always run a test using platforms like Facebook to collect a bit of data on who is most receptive to your offer/message.

3. What is my Ideal Customer’s Income Level?

This question not only indicates what price point the product or service should target, it also potentially gives people in business leadership a glimpse at the ideal customers’ education level and occupation. It’s important to understand where a person’s head is at based on the conditions they live.

4. Where Does my Ideal Customer Live?

If your audience comes from a 50-mile radius around the physical location, there is no need to spend money or time advertising elsewhere. Or, if all sales are done online, knowing which areas of the country generate the most revenue can help in future planning.

5. How Do my Current Customers Differ From my Ideal Customers?

A small business can have a core group of loyal customers but still be looking to expand that base as mentioned earlier. Maybe the ideal customer is willing to spend more with the company or requires fewer interactions to close a sale–shorter sales funnel.

6. What Are the Values Held by my Target Audience?

Do your ideal customer’s values align with your startup’s values? Companies that know their ideal clients’ beliefs and values can use that information when creating their social media content strategy. If the values are fluid, that’s important to know, too. It shapes how you talk to them so you they are receptive.

7. Are You Reaching an Aspirational Audience and do They Buy Into You?

Perhaps a small business caters to people who need a product or service immediately. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of people who might want the product in the future. Many times, people need to buy into you or your story before they actually buy from you. So it can take time and several small commitments (ie. signing up for an email list) before they spend anything. Creating a mystique about a service or item using social media platforms can keep a business at the back of clients’ minds.

8. Where are You Customers Online?

You have to figure out where in the blogosphere and social networking world your idea customer hangs out.  There are plenty of services a social entrepreneur could use to reach potential clients, but they each have inherent strengths and weaknesses. If they are a new entrepreneur they might be reading a business blog but connected to that is the social media marketing blog, tech blog and maybe even news/culture.   Twitter, for example, is not as good for product photos as Instagram or Pinterest. Owners have to learn about each platform and whom each serves and what their key qualities are.

RESEARCH: Click here for Pew Research Center’s Demographics of Key Social Media Platform’s

9. What problem and I’m solving for my ideal customer?

You need to be able to describe what problem you’re solving for your ideal customer and how you’re solving it. A close look at a product or service will indicate its most appealing attributes based on who would benefit most from it. Perhaps it is eco-friendly or custom made and you’re reaching a person who is a new mom looking for safe eco-friendly solutions.

10. What Motivates my Target Audience to Action?

Business owners can get a head start on targeted messages when they know what moves their ideal clients toward taking the plunge. Is it a coupon? A free gift with purchase? Online recognition of their purchase? Any of these factors are helpful to know.

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