A common death trap within marketing is to assume that anyone remotely interested in your services is your ideal customer. The theory behind "casting your net far and wide" to touch as many people as possible works to a degree, but you can't escape the fact that you still have to waste your precious time and resources eliminating the riffraff. Taking the time to define your target market is an excellent way to solve this problem from the get-go.
"Everyone Is Not Your Customer..." - Seth Godin
Making grand statements like "anyone interested in my business is my customer" is inaccurate and frankly silly. No brand on earth can afford to target every type of customer. Marketing is like a game of chess - in order to outfox your competition you need to plan your moves wisely. Targeting a more niche audience will reap greater rewards in the long run.
Buyer Personas: Defining Your Target Market
Your target market is a reflection of your buyer personas. In short, a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your company's ideal customer. Buyer personas provide tremendous structure and insight for your business because they allow you to focus your efforts on what truly matters, guide product development as well as ensure every member of your team is on the same page, targeting the same people.
The qualities and characteristics of your buyer personas must be supported by research. Basing your buyer personas on personal theories or opinion is a surefire way to shoot yourself in the foot. The latest trends and local economy is always changing which likely means the tastes and interests of your ideal market is shifting too.
Most businesses will have more than one ideal customer, so don't be afraid to flesh out different personas – although 4 or 5 personas should be more than enough!
Creating Your Buyer Personas
Any solid marketing strategy starts with communication. Arrange a meeting with your entire team to discuss who your ideal market is. Your CEO might have a very different picture of your ideal customer compared to your sales team. You should discuss the following:
- Look at your current customer base. Are you happy with the type of customers you already have? Could things be better? If so, why? Create a list of flaws in your current customer and then begin to pinpoint ways to overcome these obstacles.
- Analyse demographics. Figure out which people need your service, and who just wants your services. Think about age, gender, location, occupation, income level and education. How often do they invest in your services? Are they buying the service for themselves or is it on behalf of another person, or on behalf of their business?
- Analyse personal characteristics. Look at their personality, attitudes, values, interests / hobbies and behavioural choices. Do they prefer to speak to you face-to-face or look at your online profiles? What's their initial opinion of your brand?
This type of information allows you to fine-tune your advertising which will ultimately increase your annual profit margins. Below is a list of ways to refine your marketing:
- Your customer is stubborn and doesn't understand the need for your product. To overcome this you should create content that highlights its purpose, for example, uploading blogs and podcasts that answer FAQs. Another way to overcome this problem is to upload images and videos of your product / service in action to demonstrate the benefits.
- Your customer tends to be very hesitant and nervous about your service, especially if the product / service is expensive. To overcome this you need to focus more on your online reviews and testimonials to showcase your brand's trustworthiness. Read this article for top tips on getting more online reviews. Using the possessive pronoun "you" and "your" within your writing style (like "we can help your business because X") is another way to truly drive home what you're saying.
- You'd like to target a younger audience. Younger audiences adore visual information over solid text. For this reason animation / infographics / videos and social media marketing is a brilliant way to appeal to this audience.
One rookie mistake when defining your target market is failing to create any negative buyer personas. As the name suggests, a negative buyer persona is the type of person you don't want to target. This could be because they can't afford your service or if they have no intention of actually buying from you. For instance, students can sometimes contact a business pretending to want a quote when they are actually conducting research for their university dissertation.
Creating negative personas helps you focus on the individuals that genuinely matter.
The Pecking Order: What Makes Your Brand Special?
At the moment, Britain has a very saturated market with various businesses all competing for the same selection of people. You can't afford to blend in. It's no longer enough to say "our business has over 40 years' experience" or "we have exceptionally high standards of service". You need to prove yourself, otherwise your customers won't give you the time of day.
Ways to help you stand out:
- Regularly update your social media profiles (you don't necessarily have to always publish your own content, you can curate your posts from other trusted sources and then share your opinion on the information in the article)
- Upload regular content (blogs, podcasts, images, videos)
- Update your reviews / testimonials and case studies as this builds trust with your customer - Check out this article for further tips and tricks - How To Get More Online Reviews
- Offer FREE content such an eBook or a discount code
- Short write-ups about industry events you've attended
- Evidence of charity work
- Add a human touch! (Upload a few photos of national holidays or colleague birthdays to show that your team members don't bite! Customers are more likely to contact people if they are relatable!)
Defining your target market is like looking at the view through a pair of binoculars - everything suddenly becomes clearer! Knowing who your ideal customer is allows you to shape every aspect of your marketing, which in the long run will drastically improve your annual sales.
Here at the JDR Group our marketing specialist Andy Gibbins offers FREE 20 minute marketing audits. Andy can take a look at your business' online presence and help you pinpoint potential areas for improvement. Contact us today to book an appointment at no cost and no obligation.