Knowing who you are serving is the first step to starting your online business. You have to know who your ideal client is before you can determine how you will sell to them. Figuring out how to find your target audience is essential to creating your brand, crafting your marketing message and connecting with your ideal clients.
Thankfully, there are some easy and effective steps to help you get to know who your target audience is.
And once you learn these steps, you’ll be able to update your research again and again, without hassle. While audience demographics can stay the same for a 100 years, their language and problems will change. And so will their priorities, values and ethics.
Start with an educated guess.
Most of us start our businesses with an idea in mind about who we will help. And if you’re already selling products, you can look at your stats to figure out exactly who they are!
But if you aren’t selling anything yet, or you’re still figuring out what form your products or services will take, you’ll have to start with a guess, and then do some research.
So first, create a customer avatar.
Also known as an “ideal client”, this is where you describe your target audience. Get really specific here with the details. Start with the demographic details — age, gender, location, income and education level.
Then look at the more descriptive details. Do they have children? Are they part of a certain ethnic group or culture? What about their religious preferences or political leanings? What are their interests, hobbies, or style?
Write it all down, and maybe even grab some stock photos that can help you personalize your ideal client. You can even give them a name! But the point is, you want a very specific picture of your ideal customer in mind, so that you can start researching.
Next, research your audience.
Now that you have a picture in mind, you want to make sure that it’s actually the right fit. So start researching.
Where do you research?
Social media makes an excellent source of research for you. Join Facebook groups that match the interests, hobbies, and background of your target audience. Look at who posts on Twitter on trending topics that relate to your target audience. Make notes about commonalities they have, as well as the most frequently asked questions, the topics they complain about, and the things they share.
Then, once you have an idea of some of their favorite topics and complaints, create some surveys that will help you get even more specific. Ask them to describe their pet peeves. Get their opinion on your potential solutions and price points.
Another place to research is offline.
Look in your local area for meetups, groups, and places your target audience might hang out. For example, if you’re targeting moms of preschoolers, you might want to look for a mommy-and-me playgroup, or volunteer for storytime at the library. If you’re targeting retirees looking for a second career, you may want to check out your local coffee shop!
When you join them in their groups and natural environments, you can become a “fly on the wall” and observe. Or participate with them, engage, and learn even more!
A final way to research your audience is to look at your competitors.
Every business has competition, and this is a good thing! If you don’t have competition, it might be because your business isn’t viable.
So find your target audience by finding your competition, and take notes. Check out their sites, and look for the language and branding they use. How do they package their products? What price range are they using?
Sign up for their email lists and check out the phrases and words they’re using to generate interest, engage their readers and sell their products. Buy a product from them, and study it. How does it help solve the problem your competitor said it did? Can you make a better one?
Determining your target audience is personal!
Ultimately, your audience is who you want them to be! Once you create that outline of your ideal client, personalize it. Give them a name, a personality and an image, so that you can better relate to them. Get to know them, where they hang out, so that you can serve them even better.
Create your plan today!
Start your business right. Use this handy little checklist to write out your business plan. It's easier than you think!