If you haven’t noticed, the target audience is everything for us here at Bolder Web Design. That’s why we begin every project by defining two things: our client’s goals and their target audience. Then we design everything around the audience in service of the goals. For business owners, your target audience is usually (but not always!) the people you want to sell your products or services to. We’ll show you not only how to define and/or refine your target audience, but also how to think about them in a way to help you reach your goals.
1. Who is my product or service perfect for?
The mistake we see most often when businesses brand and market themselves online is trying to appeal to too broad of an audience. It’s not surprising that it happens. After all, what business owner wants to exclude any segment of the market? But here’s the problem: If you don’t define your audience very specifically and speak to them directly, your message ends up sounding generic and not getting through to anyone, driving down the return you see on your branding and marketing dollars.
So instead of thinking about segmenting your market and targeting a specific segment (and excluding others), we recommend imagining the one person that your product or service is perfect for, and speaking directly to that person.
We like the perfect-customer approach because 1) it isn’t restrictive but rather targets your ideal clients, 2) it can be leveraged and scaled online to convert many more customers, and 3) it creates a personable experience by speaking directly to your perfect customer, which is always a challenge in the digital marketing and branding space.
Unless you’re Coca-Cola or Nike, you don’t need to appeal to everyone. For small and medium-size companies, the reverse is actually true. Your challenge is to narrow down your target market as much as possible! If you can define that one person your business is perfect for, then you can use the Internet to find an untold number of others just like him or her.
2. What (else) do I know about them?
If you sell mountain bikes, it’s pretty safe to say your target customers are mountain bikers. But what else do your perfect mountain-biking-customers have in common? Are they beginners or veterans? Are they buying their first bikes, or are they upgrading? How old are they? Are they weekend warriors or daily riders? Is biking a means of transportation, a fun pastime, or their passion? Do they have families? What are their values?
The goal here is to define your audience beyond their relationship to your business. Why? Because this illuminates them more completely as people, which you will need to understand in order to connect with them, communicate more meaningfully, and stand out in their eyes.
3. What are their real hopes, fears, and dreams?
Once you have a broad understanding of your perfect customer, it’s time to go deep. Ask yourself, what are their hopes, fears, and dreams? In short, what is really important to your audience? This can be a tough question to answer about someone else, so it’s crucial to define your audience specifically.
The purpose of this question is to understand what motivates your audience on a deep level so that you can cut through the fluff and communicate with them meaningfully. Your challenge is to understand their hopes, fears, and dreams, and then speak to the way your product or service alleviates their fears and gets them closer to their hopes and dreams. It’s why Bud Light commercials shows people out having fun with their friends instead of talking about their actual product. They know that their target market buys and drinks Bud Light socially for fun (not for its distinction in the beer world or its one-of-a-kind flavor).
4. What do they think of my industry and my business?
A TIP: Confirm your target-audience’s beliefs (good and bad) around your product, service, or industry. By confirming their unsubstantiated beliefs about your product/industry, you foster confidence in your audience that they are informed and thinking accurately about your product, which they need to make a decision to purchase.
Once confirmed, you must then dispel any fear and hesitation by addressing any negative beliefs in a direct and concrete way. For example, we’ve found that many business owners are skeptical about the value versus the cost of a professional website. The thinking goes, “Sure it would look nice, but do I really need it? Will I ever actually get more customers and see a return on my investment?” We confirm this concern (check out our blog post about it here) and, to alleviate it, we offer a money-back guarantee on our work. Being Internet technologists and entrepreneurs ourselves, we know that our work creates value for businesses. And we’re happy to stand behind it. It’s one way we confirm and dispel our audience’s beliefs about our product and industry.
5. Why will they buy from my business?
We hope by now you’ve answered the previous four questions and the answer to this fifth and final question is obvious. Ultimately, there is no formula for selling products and services. Every industry, business, product and service is different, and that means audiences and the ways you communicate with them will be unique. But knowing your audience – their hopes, fears, and dreams – and communicating with them on a level that is meaningful to them, are great strategies for improving your digital brand and marketing efforts and converting more customers.
Got your target market defined? Awesome. Now go speak directly to their deep fears and dreams. Engage them on a meaningful level, and show them how your product/service will alleviate stress and fear and help them reach their goals and dreams.
When it comes to branding and marketing, we’ve got a secret: We’re optimists! We say plan for the best. That’s why we employ the perfect-customer approach. We know those perfect customers are out there, and we know that you can use the Internet to reach them. So ask yourself, in a perfect world, who is your product or service perfect for?