There are many articles on the internet that tell you how to make marketing strategies or give you tips about social media strategies. In most of those articles, there is one point that is always talked about as being ‘the most important step’: Knowing your target audience. Your entire marketing strategy is based on your target audience. If you focus on the wrong group of people, all your efforts and resources will go down the drain. So yes, getting this wrong is not an option, but how do you know your target audience if you don’t know that the term means? How to separate your target audience from the entire population?
If these are the questions that bother you, this blog has a completely different set of 10 questions that you’ll have to answer. But, don’t worry, these are the right kind of questions, ones that’ll not only help you figure out your target audience but help you cater to them as well.
Questions to Acquire and Maintain Your Target Audience
- What is a Target Audience?
This is a basic, and to some, an obvious, question but one that needs to be answered, even if it is just to ensure that we’re on the same page. So, a target audience is the group of people who are most likely to be interested in your product. These people should have a problem that your product will solve and they should be willing and capable enough to buy it.
Now, based on this answer itself, you have a few points that will help you find your target audience. Let’s look at some of them.
- What kind of problems does your product solve?
The only reason people will be interested in doing business with you is if your company offers something that helps them solve a problem they’re facing. So to know who these people are, you’ll first have to know your product. Analyze your product, break it down to its very essence, and pick apart its features. Once you do this, you will slowly start to figure out what problems it solves. For example, if you’re a company that has developed CRM software, see that its functions are; does it simplify communication? Is it easier to send and receive files with your software?
Another thing you should note here is your product’s USP or unique selling point. Compare your product with similar products already in the market and try to pinpoint what is unique about it. If you don’t have one, the chances of people choosing your product over others will go down; so make sure to have at least one USP that will help your product stand out among others.
- What kind of people would like your product?
In the end, this is what it boils down to: what kind of people would ultimately want to buy what you’re selling. Here, refer back to the problems that your products and survey various social media platforms to isolate the people with problems similar to the ones your product can solve. To simplify your process for this question, look into your current customers; note down what they like about your brand. Not only will this give you a good starting point, but chances are that you will also get a big part of your target audience from your current audience’s social circle.
However, knowing who likes your products will not be enough; you will also have to see whether they will be able to buy from you. A good example for this is video games; most of the time, they are targeted towards teens and maybe the marketing makes sure to completely win them over but the company still won’t get business from them because it’s their parents who will buy the game. In this example, you have two target audiences: one is who the product is made for and the other is the one who will buy the product; your marketing strategy needs to appease both of these groups.
The group you create after answering this question is your primary target audience; from here, you can further refine, segregate, and build up the group based on the next questions.
- What are the demographics of your target audience?
Here, you need to find out the general age group, sex ratio, average income, spending capacity, etc. Demographics may sound like a trivial thing to be worried about but this is something that will massively shape your marketing strategy. For example, if your product helps and is meant to target executives in the age group of 25-35, creating a strategy that attracts high schoolers will be useless to you.
- What do they expect from brands?
Knowing what they expect from other brands, whether or not they’re related to your niche, will help you predict what they might expect from you. Look through review sites, social media pages of brands they follow, and even their own social media pages to see what they liked and didn’t like about those brands and what they want changed.
- What kind of content do they prefer?
While you’re on their social media pages, look at what kind of posts or content they engage with and share the most. This may differ from platform to platform, so take a note of that as well. For example, a group of people might share more image-based posts on Facebook but prefer text-based tweets. Similarly, look for the changes in the mood or tone changes across platforms. Like, while your niche audience might like aesthetic photos on Instagram, they will engage with more serious, professional blog posts on LinkedIn.
This information will help you plan a content marketing strategy that is as targeted to your audience as possible.
- What social causes do they stand for?
Now, you may not directly endorse or work for social causes but you still need to know which ones your audience supports. There are many reasons for this; the first is that you won’t offend anyone that is critical to your business. Let’s say you make a marketing campaign for your product that is aesthetically pleasing, nicely worded, well executed, and it ticks off all the boxes in your “target audience preference list”, but it unintentionally pokes fun at a serious social issue, the campaign will be a 100% definite flop. In fact, you will lose customers and hurt your reputation.
Another reason is that if that cause ever comes in the spotlight, you will know what to do; often times, brands loose customers by simply staying silent or neutral, even if they’ve technically done nothing wrong. This is because when people decide to affiliate themselves with a brand, they expect the brand to have the same beliefs and principles as them.
Obviously, it’s not as easy as it sounds; it can happen that people with conflicting beliefs on the same issue will make up your target audience and sometimes there may not be a definite right and a definite wrong side. In such a case, you will have to decide who to offend and who to appease, often based on your brand’s principles.
- Are they already affiliated with your brand or a similar brand?
If individuals from your target audience are already a part of your brand’s community, you can use the data you have on them to shape up your strategies. On the other hand, find out if they are already buying from brands that function in your niche. While it may seem like a bad thing if they are (because you’ll have to compete with the other brands), it is actually a blessing in disguise; the fact that they’re buying from a similar company confirms the fact that they have a high chance of liking your brand.
- What drives them to make a purchasing decision?
Purchasing decisions can be based on many different factors ranging from emotions (like fear or loyalty) to practicality (saves money, increases efficiency). Now, each individual in your target audience will have different driving factors and it is practically inefficient and impossible to cater to all of them. So, look for the most common factors so that you can create a strategy that caters to most, if not all, of your target audience.
- What media do they use the most?
Once you’ve figured out your audience enough to start structuring your strategies, you will have to find out the best way to reach them. Answering this question is vital because you can have the best blogs, graphics, and strategies, but if you use the wrong media to execute these strategies, you will be missing out on a big part of potential profit. For example, if your target audience mostly relies on traditional media like newspapers to get their news, creating strategies for a digital medium like Facebook doesn’t make sense. Sometimes the difference might not even be that obvious; making a strategy for Twitter while your target audience is hanging out on Facebook is just as pointless.
To find out the answer to this question, start by looking at your own social media pages; look at where you’re getting more engagement, from what platforms are you getting most conversions and redirects, especially look at the engagement and conversion rates for products and posts that relate to the product you’re looking to market. On platforms where you don’t have accounts or a community on, turn to your competitors and other brands in your niche.
Finding out similar information for traditional media like newspapers and radio might be harder, but it can still be done with the help of surveys and studies available online (you’ll just have to look very, very hard).
Some Points to Remember
Don’t make assumptions based on past knowledge without research. You might have an impressive plethora of knowledge of consumer behavior, but without proper research on current trends and your specific target audience, building strategies based on assumptions and guesstimates is often disastrous.
Keep a check on your resources. The resources that you have are needed for your entire company, not just your marketing department. So make sure you’re only taking a reasonable amount and keep a regular check on the resources to avoid unnecessary spending.
Leave room for expansion. If you try to appease to everyone, you’ll likely be doing the opposite. This is because you won’t have a specific set of demographics or expectations or, well, anything to work with; you’ll simply be spread too thin and your resources will take a massive hit. On the other hand, if only a few people fit into your criteria for target audience, you will have no room to grow. The reason you need to keep space to grow is that you don’t know what tomorrow brings. Maybe a trend will emerge 5 years down that will allow you to include a demographic of people into your target audience that you couldn’t before. The extra room you leave today will allow you to take advantage of such opportunities in the future.
——————————————————————————————————————————————–Defining your target audience is not the easiest task in the world but it is an important one. There are 10 questions in this blog; each one will take you closer to defining your target audience and building a strategy that will optimally cater to them. Once you have answered each question and regarded the answers with careful deliberation, creating strategies and executing them won’t be half as hard as it would have been. So, take your time to properly study and research for each question; rushing through them will only land you in trouble.