Identifying your target market is a no-brainer when it comes to digital marketing. The best ways to identify your target market needs to include identifying the following: What similarities do they all have? What are the similarities in what they are saying? What are the similarities in where they go for information? What state of mind are they in when they need or want your product? Which platforms do they trust to find your product? What are the limitations to delivering your product to them?
How do you go about finding out all this information? Research.
If you have customers already, it is relatively easy to gather more information from them. You can gather a good bit of quantitative data from something like Google Analytics (insert link to GA article). Google Analytics will give you a good bit of information on your current customers. However, this is very surface level knowledge. Getting to know your customer on a deeper level will help really identify who will respond to your digital marketing and more importantly, crafting a message in which they will respond.
Let’s start with the basics. There is a good chance that your target market will have some surface level similarities, and depending on your product, that similarity can be quite easy to identify. What if it is not? What if you are selling something that is gender neutral and has a wide ranging demographic? Even with a very diverse demographic there are always going to be similarities. You may have to dig a bit deeper to find them. How? Ask them.
You can use 5 or so customers and interview them. I wrote an article titled, How To Use Surveys To Get Valuable Marketing Data, and it provides an outline on how to get started with surveying and interviewing customers. The goal is to do a deep dive into their needs and wants ultimately to learn how you can make your product more relatable to those needs and wants.
When you start to research your current customers, you will find similarities in what they are saying. Hopefully, what they are saying aligns with your message. If it doesn’t that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In either case, by listening to what your customers are saying, you will better identify keywords and phrases that they use to identify their needs and how that relates to your product. Let’s take for example, you are selling a razor.
For the most part, both men and women will use a razor. Each will have a different reason for buying your product. Some will like the balance, some will like the quality of the blades and some will like both. That doesn’t help much. The great thing about actually interviewing customers you can dig deeper. What is it about the balance? Perhaps it doesn’t slip out of their hands when it is wet. Perhaps they feel like they have more control and nick themselves less. Perhaps the blade stays sharper longer thereby saving them money on replacement blades. Perhaps they like your razor but the replacement blades aren’t easy to find. These are all things that may not come out in a survey but could be very valuable to your bottom line.
It’s not a stretch to say that many people rely on reviews when they are deciding on a product. In fact, the next generation of consumer will mostly rely on what others have said about a product. This has lead to a rise in influencer marketing as Millenials and Gen Z consumers listen to the people that they follow online. Before you go out and start dedicating a chunk of your ad spending on influencer marketing, you may want to dive a bit deeper into where your target market goes for their information.
There’s no doubt that user reviews help sell a product, but not everyone will rely on the opinion of strangers to hit the “Buy Now” button. Some people won’t trust the testimonials that are posted on a website. I’m not referring to reviews on Amazon, but rather the “This is the greatest product ever!” testimonials on a page of the site. They may feel they are solicited and phony. Some people are more trusting. What does your customers believe?
By asking how they would research a product, it can help you decide how to post those positive reviews. They may only trust Amazon or Google reviews so having testimonials on your website can be a complete waste of time. You may be better served sending them a link to Google Reviews or Amazon Reviews. They may trust independent reviews of your product and that could mean spending time reaching out to bloggers or media websites to get them to review your product. Without doing the research you are basically taking a guess that could result wasting your money and costing you business.
The first thing you need to determine is the type of product that you have. Is your product a vitamin or an aspirin? Does your product provide immediate relief or make their lives better? For example, Crazy Glue is an aspirin product and a vacation in the Caribbean is a vitamin product. Determining their state of mind can help shape the approach to identifying your target market.
I know you can argue that a Caribbean vacation can be an aspirin and trust me, there are times when that would be the best medicine. In many cases, your target audience is choosing to take the vacation and if they can’t find what they are looking for they will move on to the next thing. It’s discretionary.
When they are looking for a vacation spot, they are interested in amenities, location, and then price. They want to enjoy themselves and if they have to pay a little bit more to get the right amenities or location they will fork over the money. It’s a vacation! Their state of mind is that they want to go to a place where they can engage in the activities they want and they want it convenient to areas they want to visit. If your marketing focuses on price, you are not addressing their state of mind and your could be losing business. They are willing to pay for what they are looking for if it meets their expectations. I would argue that price is the least of the determining factors in any buying decision. I think of price as more of a tie breaker but that is a topic for another time.
Addressing their needs and their wants is key in shaping your message. If you check off all the boxes, they will hand over their money. You are making their life better by giving them something they desire.
In the case of aspirin, you want immediate relief. Price is usually not an option for the decision. Speed, efficiency and effectiveness are more important. These are the things that need to be checked off before they send you their money. You may have the best product for solving their problem, but if your competition can deliver a similar product faster, they may choose speed over effectiveness. However, your audience may be willing to wait for your product. Again, knowing your audience can shape your message.
The vitamin versus the aspirin approach is a high level look at marketing your product based on your target audience’s state of mind. The only way to know for sure is research. Your audience may buck trends because of the value they place on your product. In either case, you still need to address their state of mind. A car could fall into either category but ultimately the audience will decide luxury over convenience and you will have to know how to market it.
Google, right? Um, maybe not.
Google is a gateway to find other information. Whether it is the search results, reviews or their ads, people click through Google to other places on the web. Again, I ask, which platforms does your target audience trust to find your product?
Do they trust reviews? Reviews can come in many different ways. For example, testimonials on your site is a great way to promote your product when a customer is in the research phase. However, some may think that those are not legitimate, but, reviews on a third party site, they have no issue with. They trust independent reviews from real people who have used your product. We have become really good at determining a legitimate review versus solicited review as well as a real user review versus a person with a chip on their shoulder.
Younger audiences will trust reviews but they are more influenced by others who they follow on social media. I use my son, who is Generation Z, as a real world example. He tells us all the time about something he heard about online, watching something, and he is thinking about buying it. Sometimes he will look at the reviews if he is unsure but for the most part he’s developed a level of trust with the person he follows even though he knows nothing about them. It’s no different than the celebrity endorsement. In this case, the modern celebrity is the YouTube personality.
Knowing how your target audience will research a product and being in those places gives you an advantage in influencing a purchase decision. How do you know this? You ask. You ask them how they found you, where they go for information, who do they trust. Knowing this information helps you continue to find others who have those same influences.
This can be targeted more towards the service industry, but not always. We live in a globally influenced world. Less than a generation ago, the thought of getting a product delivered from England or Japan in a few days would be the stuff of dreams. Not so much today. This global economy has some drawbacks.
For example, you can’t ship alcohol into some state. Some country’s customs regulations, including the United States, will hold shipments at the border for days or weeks or more. This will definitely affect how you can deliver a physical product to a customer. If you want to be global these are some of the hurdles you may need to overcome to deliver your product to your customer.
For the service industry, it could be a travel issue. Why am I driving past four dentist offices to go to you? For the medical community, “Do you accept insurance?” is a daily question. You might be the best dentist in the country but because you don’t accept dental insurance, it’s a deal breaker for some.
Knowing these limitations can also put you at an advantage. For example, if you have limitations then your competition may also have these limitations. Overcoming them will give you an advantage. For example, if you figured out how to ship your product, legally, to places where they normally hold back your type of product then you are addressing a pain point of your audience and it could lead to more of your competitor’s audience coming over to you.
As business owners, we dream of owning the market. In some cases, you may, but you will always have competition. I have clients that say they are the only ones that do what they do and they are right in many aspects, but the uniformed target audience will create what is, in their minds, competition. Even if there isn’t any competition when you start, if your product or service is worthy enough, others will copycat. Just look at the iPhone. It is important to know who your competition is, what they are saying and what they are doing. Knowing this will give you an opportunity to find where there are holes you can exploit.
Like I said we all have competitors. Even if it isn’t an exact match, people will compare your product to others they deem similar to make sure they are making the right decision. It is important to know who this is. It is also important to know this because just like in any competition, knowing your competitor’s weakness can lead to an advantage. I’ll give you an example.
Not too far from where I live, there is a town where it seems like there is a lawyer every 200 feet. When you do a search for lawyer in this town, about 30 names come up. They all basically do the same thing. All their target market has to go on is referrals or what they see in the form of advertising. In this town, there is always a game of one upmanship. One thing they all understand is who their competition is and what they are saying.
As business owners, it’s hard to ignore your competition’s advertising. What always amazes me is how everyone thinks whatever the other guy is doing is better and want to copy it. If you are saying the same thing your competition is saying then it becomes a contest of who can shout louder. There’s no value for your customer in that approach. The Japanese have a saying that whoever shouts first loses the argument.
Your competition could be hitting all the buzzwords like lower prices, better value, outstanding customer service. I think most people are pretty deaf to those claims since everyone makes them. No one is going to advertise high prices and bad value. You need to counter without shouting louder.
Simon Sinek did a famous TED Talk about how successful leaders and companies focus on the “Why” rather than they “What”. He uses Apple as an example. Apple never focuses on price or even the fact that they make computers. They focus on challenging the status quo and they point to that in every piece of advertising they do.
If you know who your customers are and what they respond to, then you already have what you need to start plucking off your competitor’s customers. Like I said before, the price is usually a tiebreaker, but if you point out why your customers have chosen you over your competition, then it should never get to price. Let’s go back to Apple for a moment.
Their store in the mall nearby is always packed. The mall could be a ghost town but there is at least 50 people in the Apple Store. Why? Because of the experience. People like to experience Apple’s products. There is a Microsoft Store just down a little bit but it is never nearly as crowded even during the holidays.
Even in the case of an Amazon or Walmart, there is plenty that they don’t provide customers. The one thing is that they try to be all things to all people. In many cases, this is where you can take advantage.
Your customer is unique and has unique needs to which you can specifically tailor your service. The personalization on Amazon is terrible, particularly if you buy gifts for others. Heck, for the longest time Amazon thought I was going to college because I was buying college textbooks for my son. Walmart is so understaffed that if you need something from a locked cabinet, it could take a little bit to get someone to help you.
In the case of lawyers, they all promise results, but in many cases going to a lawyer is an emotional decision. You assume that they will get you the results you want. Their marketing focuses on your emotions. If you know what the state of mind your customers are in, you can tailor your message to address others who are in that state of mind. In a crowded market, you need to resist the urge to shout louder in the same space as your competition. Instead, say something your customer wants to hear.
In many cases, you don’t have much of a choice but to be in the same advertising space as your competitors. Google AdWords is a perfect example of this. What’s worse is that it can be very expensive to compete. However, is Google AdWords the only platform they trust? Don’t assume because your competition is doing it that it might be the right direction. By knowing the platforms your customers trust, you have some alternative options that can be more effective.
For example, if you are a local business did you know you can advertise on the local map pack results when you search? Social media also provides the tools to directly target individuals based on geography, demographics and interests. I wrote an article on how to get demographic information from Google Analytics. This article can give you a good start on figuring out the interests of your audience.
The take away from this article is that the better you know your audience, the better you can target them, and the easier it is to steal them from your competition. What makes them choose you over another company is that you have demonstrated that your solution to their problem is better than your competition. The best way to do that is to understand who your target market is, and what problems you are solving for them.
You have to listen to what your customers are saying and the best way to do that is to ask questions. By asking questions, you will hear similarities that will help you craft a better message. A better message, placed in the right spot, targeting the right people will lead to a successful digital marketing campaign. Now that you have a strategy, go out there and market successfully.