You need to define your target audience so that you can build better branding, period. Nearly every pal I’ve made online in the past few months has something in common – we all started as vague “lifestyle” blogs with no niche and no focus. In time, trying to figure out this online blog/business landscape, you begin to realize that being the expert “in everything” is WAY too hard, and it makes much more sense to niche down and focus on one thing. One thing that you are good at, that you enjoy doing, and that you can build a business off of.
The hardest battle I have, with myself, with clients, and with friends, is the idea of narrowing down your target audience. I’ll use myself as an example – I WANT everyone to like my blog, to like me, to want to hang out with me, to want me to help design their branding, etc. But, it’s not possible to appeal to EVERYONE. Think of how hard that actually is. To. Appeal. To. Everyone. You truly, truly, truly can’t. Even Chipotle, the best thing in the world, still doesn’t appeal to EVERYONE. So, here I am, ruining your day by telling you: YOU CAN’T EITHER. You can’t appeal to everyone. Some people will not like what you are talking about, will never buy from you, and will only serve to increase your “bounce rate” in your analytics.
But, here’s the good news: that’s GREAT! That’s fantastic. You don’t want to appeal to everyone. If you are trying to run a business and make money, which I assume you are, you want to appeal to a very specific and detailed group of people that will support you.
When you break down a target audience there’s really three people you have to consider: the person that actually buys your good/service, the person that influences someone to buy your good/service, and your supporters. Now, the most important person to understand is the person that buys, and that’s who we are talking about in detail today, but keep in mind that there is a necessity to also appeal to people that will tell other people about you – so you can grow. Your reach can only go so far, you need word of mouth from trusted sources to help you along, even if they simply retweet you sometimes. But, more on that in another post. Today we are reviewing six questions to define your target audience & build better branding.
WHAT ARE THE BASICS?
If I ask you who your target audience is you might answer “everyone” or “young women” or “middle aged men.” Which, okay, that’s an excellent step, but we are about to take a lot more steps. First, we need all the basic information, think of that as demographics. You will want to narrow down things like gender, age, education level, income level, etc.
But why does all this matter? Well, think about what appeals to a 18-25 year old girl, upper-middle-class, attending college, still supported by her parents, versus a 30-45 year old male who has worked labor jobs since he was 14, barely graduated high school, no college degree. Two very different ages, income levels, economic backgrounds, lifestyles, and so on – and will be “sold” to in very different ways. You need to know who you are selling to, so that you can build out your branding for your business, as well as more specific marketing campaigns, accordingly.
Not convinced? Chances are you are someone who runs or is starting a small business, a woman, aged 24-38, and enjoy spending time on Pinterest. You are probably more creative-minded, even if you are business savvy (those things are not mutually exclusive y’all). Why can I write a blog post, that will be up for a long time after today, and say that with a lot of certainty? Because I know who my target audience is. That’s who I want to come read my blog – that’s who I am working hard to get to come to my blog, because that’s who will most benefit from what I offer.
That’s not to say that men, aged 50+ don’t read my blog. Trust me, they do. My dad is probably reading this right now. But the significant majority of who I appeal to, I want to appeal to. If you aren’t sure who you are already appealing to, Google Analytics can help! Check out their demographics and interest tabs.
WHAT ARE THE DETAILS
After we get some of those more surface level attributes narrowed down, we really need to start digging deeper. You can do that by analyzing and establishing the “psychographics” of your target audience. These include things like personality traits, or values, or hobbies. Things that start to flesh them out as real, living, breathing people that are going to buy your good or service.
So, these types of questions matter for the same reasons. But also start to help us figure out where we can find your audience. So if I know their interests are crafting and DIY-projects, chances are they are active on Pinterest. Or If I know that they lead holistic or more natural lifestyles, maybe I can find them on a Facebook group about that.
Now, yes, you can have a business without knowing these things about your target client – but can you have a self-sustaining business where clients find you easier and come to you? Can you spend less time developing marketing campaigns and spending money on Facebook ads hoping that something sticks? That’s the real goal here. Efficient businesses that leave time for you to do what you love and the ability to grow.
HOW DO THEY BUILD TRUST?
This is a super valuable one, because people don’t give money away to companies they don’t trust. So, you need to get to the bottom of what trust means to your target audience and how you can build it.
I’ll give you a tip: no matter who your audience is, having a consistent brand experience will always help build trust. Cohesive branding builds loyalty.
But, there’s other ways to build trust that are specific to your target. Is it just through word of mouth? What about a Facebook page with lots of likes? What about countless blog posts on related topics? What about listing your awards and accolades, or testimonials? There are ways to establish yourself a resource and a reliable form of information. It might be something simple, or it might be a more complex way - like that free e-course I just mentioned. It took a good amount of work on my part, but it puts an email from me, filled with useful information and actionable steps every day for 7 days. You begin to know me, and get used to me, and see me as someone that is a resource through that course. Do your potential clients need something like that to affirm that you are "the real deal"?
WHAT DO THEY VALUE?
This is vital – trying to sell someone something they don’t care about is nearly impossible. I say nearly because there are some really good sales-people out there, but I’m not one of them. What does your target audience value? Are they someone who prefers to watch a video tutorial, read a manual, or get a finished product handed to them? Do they want to understand your offering (product or service) and be taught, or just have the end result?
I’ll use myself for example – my clients value someone that basically becomes a part of their team during our working relationship. I’m not the type of designer that emails once a week and sends over 8 options and says, “choose.” I’m the person that we chat about our favorite episode of House Hunters, then we talk about business over virtual coffee, and then I offer some advice and things I’ve learned that aren’t necessarily branding related, and then I offer them a few options with some explanations and open the lines of communication for feedback. That is NOT every client’s cup of tea. In fact you might be reading that and as a potential client think “oh, no way!” but another person, someone that is more of my ideal client, read that and thought, “that sounds perfect!”
WHERE DO YOU FIT IN?
You have figured out a lot about your target audience, but what about what you actually want/offer/care about? You obviously matter too! In analyzing your target audience, consider what you want out of the relationship.
In my previous example – if you find that you hate the idea of being that involved with your client, then don’t build a target audience and branding that attracts that type of client. If you find that you hate working with women over the age of 45 because they always have stylistic choices you absolutely cannot stand – then don’t build branding that will attract them.
Sometimes it gets overwhelming for people, when they start to figure out this target client. They assume that if they start narrowing down things, they have to go with the “stereotypical” choices – that older men clients will hate using the internet, or something like that. You can build your target audience however you like – maybe it’s a smaller niche, but there is a segment of older men who love the Internet and use it actively – and that can be your audience. It’s about figuring out what you want for your business and about who benefits from your business.
IS THIS A MARKETABLE AUDIENCE?
Coming off that last point though – you can build them however you want – as long as it is actually a marketable audience. The best way to know if there’s a market for your audience is to check out your competitors and see who they serve. Competitors aren’t scary – they are proof that there’s an audience interested in your product/service.
I don't mean to come across as condescending or anything, but a little common sense will help with making sure you have a marketable audience. You can’t build up this ideal person and have it be contradicting, i.e. a vegan male who loves hunting for sport – kind of contradictory, right? Probably an incredibly small, if not nonexistent, niche. So when you are answering these questions about your target audience, take a moment and step back and make sure that you aren’t making up a person that probably doesn’t exist and then check out your competitors and see how your target audiences differ and align.
But otherwise, let me know what questions you have about developing your target audience. In the branding process this is right in those first steps, because it’s so essential that you know who the heck you want your branding to appeal to. If you haven’t figured this out yet, it’s not too late! Use the workbook to get started and please reach out if you get stuck.
I’m Kaitlyn, your design assistant! I work with successful creative entrepreneurs to create cohesive, clean, and compelling visuals for their businesses. You can keep being the #girlboss you are (but with more time to focus on growing your empire)! Let's set up a time to chat!