Do you ever feel that you have no idea who you're talking to when it comes to your online marketing?
Knowing this is crucial when marketing your small business. Once you know exactly who your audience is and what they like, you can start reaching out to them in a way that truly resonates.
So how do you go about pinning down your target audience?
1. Start by defining your business
Before you can define your target audience, you need to be clear on a few things about your business. Most importantly, ask yourself:
- What problem or problems does my business solve?
- What benefits does it provide?
Once you know the answer to these questions, you can start narrowing down your audience according to what you can offer them and who would benefit the most.
2. Think about who suffers from the problems you solve
Start painting a picture of the types of people your business best serves. These will be the people who suffer from the very issues you solve, so it could be the busy working parents for whom you provide out-of-hours child care, or the housing associations working to a tight budget to which you sell affordable, high-quality mattresses.
Start to segment them in as granular a way as much as possible by answering questions like:
- Where do they live?
- What market sector(s) are they in?
- How old are they?
- What is their occupation?
- What is their income bracket?
- What are their hobbies?
- When and where do they go shopping and what for?
If you’re not sure about any of the above, there are lots of tools and research methods you can use to help you. If you have a good idea of the type of company or customer you’d like to target, try reaching out and asking them for direct feedback. You can also use a nifty tool called YouGov Profiles, which lets you analyse the demographics, likes and dislikes of customers who interact with similar companies to yours. Tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and Twitter analytics are also great for gaining insights into your current user base.
2. Evaluate your conclusions
Using stages one and two, you will have come up with a profile or series of profiles for your key audiences. But before you start reaching out to them, take a moment to evaluate and check that these really are the right people for your business to target. You can do this by asking yourself the following questions:
- Is my target market big enough / am I trying to target too wide an audience?
- Will my target audience see a real need for my product or service?
- Can they afford my product or service?
- Do I know what drives them to make a purchasing decision?
- Is it possible for me to reach them with my message?
It is possible to fall into the trap of trying to target absolutely everyone in order to maximise profits, but this rarely works out and can often dilute your message. On the other hand, you may find you’ve been narrowing your target audience too much, making it too small for your business to ever succeed. Balance is of the utmost important here, as is understanding what drives your customers to make decisions.
Time to reach out
Defining and segmenting your target market was the hardest part. Now you can focus on the much easier task of figuring out which media outlets to use to target each group, and what sort of messaging will strike the right chords.
Once again, the way to go about this is to ask yourself a series of questions and conduct market research to answer them:
- What sort of content are your target groups consuming online (if any)?
- Which devices are they predominantly using to access their online content? Desktop, mobile or tablet?
- Are they consuming any material offline? If so, what kinds? Traditional TV, broadcast, printed news?
- What times of day do they tend to consume their favourite content?
- Who are their influencers?
- Which social media platforms do they use the most?
Once again, you can use tools like YouGov profiles, Facebook and Twitter analytics, Google Analytics and good old-fashioned surveys to gather a huge chunk of this data.
You can also search for websites and competitors offering a similar service to your company to get a feel for the types of content being published and, more importantly, the level of consumer engagement these pieces of content are getting. After all, there’s no point in using similar techniques to a competitor that’s getting very little or no traction from them. If they’re doing it badly, look for ways to do it better.
Identifying your audience’s preferred social media platforms is also essential to the success and traction of your messaging. If only 2% of your market uses Instagram, for example, you won’t see a huge amount of value from using this platform in your marketing strategy. Target the social media networks that are most widely used by your target audience to increase the chances that they will receive your message loud and clear.
And don’t forget…
Traditional media such as TV advertising, radio broadcasts and printed media are not quite dead yet, and can still be highly beneficial for small businesses looking for exposure. According to the latest 2017 Q1 Gobal Web Index data, traditional TV viewing remains ahead of digital TV viewing the UK and across the world, and represents the single biggest daily media activity, so don’t discount this method of reaching your target audience if it’s appropriate for them and your business.
And one last tip before we go: Never stop measuring and evaluating. Marketing tactics may work once, but can easily stop working over time due to a multitude of factors. Measure and analyse your results on a monthly basis to ensure you can adapt and change tactics if needs be.
If you’re not too sure where to start and need help with your small business marketing, you’re not alone. Our team of marketing specialists here at (hug) can help you devise and implement a strategy to ensure your small business is reaching the right people with the right messages. All you need to do is ask.