An often overlooked area of marketing for small businesses is understanding your target audience. In the excitement to launch a new business or even a new website, things can get missed. Or perhaps you are testing if your side hustle could become your new full time, and want to see if there is any interest first before diving in deep. Either way, knowing your audience is vital to sustaining your business. It allows you to market your product or service in a way that appeals to them to encourage them to become customers. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you are trying to understand your audience.
Who is your target audience?
Sometimes there can be a slight difference between your current audience and your target audience. For example, a new business may create a Facebook page and invite all of their friends to "Like" it. However, their friends on Facebook may not be their target audience, and any engagement with posts can be due to existing relationships rather than proof that your marketing is working effectively. Knowing who your target customers and audience are will help you to focus your content so that you reach the people your product or service is targeted towards. Once you are up and running for a while, you will be able to use social media to ascertain who is interested in your business.
What problems or desires does your audience have, that your product/service fulfils?
Where does your product fit in solving problems or fulfilling desires? As it will not be suitable for everyone, who does it suit? This means fulling understanding your product or service as well as your audience. If you haven't already, take some time to think about the Unique Selling Points (USPs) of your product and the way it solves a problem for your audience. A common mistake when defining a business's target audience is being too wide; instead, you should try to narrow down your audience as much as possible, as this will help to make your marketing more effective.
How does your product benefit them?
Following on from the point above, your audience has to feel that not only does your product or service solve a problem or fulfil a desire, but it benefits them. While the benefit can be simple, understanding your audience will better equip you to understand the benefits they feel that they are receiving, compared to the benefits you may believe your customers would want.
Are you an online shop/service, a brick and mortar shop/service?
While we are all painfully aware that the landscape of the high street is changing, having a physical presence may affect your audience. Traditionally, a purely online business may have a slightly younger clientele than a brick and mortar store. This would then affect how you interact with your customers; if you have a shop you may want to encourage customers to visit you in-store. Whereas, if you are purely online then you would focus on drawing customers to your website.
Where do they look for information?
Knowing where your audience will look for information will help you structure the content of your information for different mediums. If your customers are more likely to look for information on your website, the information would be different from what you would provide on a social network. If your audience is looking on social media, you want to draw them back to your website for further information.
While it may feel daunting at first, it really can pay to research and understand your target audience. It affects everything from web design and structure, to marketing material and social media posts. Even costing your product! In the long term, it can actually save you time (and money) to research your target audience early.