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How to define your target audience

Investing time in defining and finding your perfect audience is one of the best investment of your time you'll ever make. 

Just putting your product or service out there and hoping the right people see it is just a waste of your time and money. There are really two big problems in skipping doing thorough audience research:

  1. You’ll design and explain your product in a more general way which makes it harder to relate to for your perfect customer, and for any customer really. Nobody wants 'average' or one size fits all.
  2. Your spending money getting in front of people that are not your target market and thereby reducing your ROAS (return on ad spend) as well

There are different ways to approach this.

  1. Market analysis -> Segments -> Pick a niche -> Perfect customer profile
  2. Analyse customers -> Profitable segments -> Survey -> Perfect customer profile

In this case, we’ll assume you don’t already have an audience or lots of profitable customers. But if you do, you should definitely focus on getting a deeper understanding of your most profitable customers.

Here is what to do if you start from scratch - which you also might want to do if you were in the market for a while and haven’t gotten big results yet.

Your target market analysis aims at clarifying where you want to focus your online (and offline) ad campaigns.

As part of the analysis, you will create a target market segmentation because you will most likely have more than one type of potential customer that could benefit from your product or service. If your business is still in the build and testing phase, you'll want to focus on just one segment, to begin with.

  • The primary objective is to define your ideal customer and develop your offer in order to attract more customers with similar characteristics
  • The second objective is to get rid of the customers who do not correspond to your ideal customer profile
  • In other words, you want to both ATTRACT and REPEL. 

WHAT do you need to know about your audience?

Analyse your audience by answering the who, what, when, where, why and how questions:

  • WHO – that is your potential customer, describe them by age, gender, occupation and education
  • WHAT – answer that with what is their interest, hobbies, basically what is motivating and inspiring them  and also what is worrying them, their fears, and perceived barriers to change
  • WHEN – focus on what time of the year or month they will be interested in buying your product or services, or perhaps how frequently will they be buying that product or offer. Also, understand when they first started thinking about solving this problem they are having and what they have tried in the past that did not work. Where are they at in their journey towards a better situation.
  • WHERE – this is all about geographic location, their home, their workplace, or even a bit general data like is it a city or village, how big is it by population, what climate do they have and how does that impact their abilities to solve the problem. From a digital advertising perspective, it is also interesting to know if they are spread thin across geography or more clustered in certain areas.
  • WHY – know WHY they will be interested in your offer and how it will match their needs better than competing offers. Research your competitors and understand why people are buying from them. If you are selling a transformation to get them to a new place in their life, quite often, they are currently not buying from anyone, and you need to dig deep about the real problem. You have to TALK to them and understand their feelings and thoughts.
  • HOW – how is their buying behaviour and how have they reacted to different offers in the past.

Really diving into this in real conversations, tapping into existing online conversations and working with real customers 1:1, will help you identify the small differences that have a significant impact on what you should offer to whom, how and where.

Personally, I learned this way, there is a big difference in mindset when it comes to motive (for acquiring digital marketing services) if my customer is a solopreneur occasionally using freelancers or if the entrepreneur use the title director about themselves and are looking to build a ‘real’ company with an office and 5 employees.

The first group wants to LEARN HOW so they can replicate the processes themselves. The second group wants to outsource and just have the job done. Both groups are mid-40's, educated, female business owners - but their mindset, motivation and goals are completely different.

After researching and you have an idea of who your audience might be, let’s dig deeper and find out where can you find the actual audiences without making any false assumptions and randomly target people.

At an overall level, you need to keep in mind that your thinking on this, and your understanding of who your audience is, will develop over time.

What you need now, is to start experimenting without too much risk. You need to figure out how to FIND your audience now that you understand well who they are.

Let me share one of my favourite ways of targeting your best audience: those who already showed interest in you and your services and those who look like them.

The Data-First Strategy

This strategy takes a little longer and you need the patience to have enough data but in return, you’ll have a much better foundation for your advertising campaigns. You can say that with this strategy, we are borrowing a little from the more data-based approach your bigger competitors are able to take.

The Data-First Strategy has three parts:

  1. Setting up nets to capture leads (no, we are not talking opt-in forms)
  2. Getting people to your page or website (to fall into the nets or buckets)
  3. Letting analytics and algorithms do their magic to tell who looked you up

STEP 1 - Setting up nets to capture leads

You’ll want to set up a system to capture the information about who visited your pages on Facebook and your website. Here is a short explanation. You can also check out the more detailed training on this inside the Personal Brand Business Academy.

How to capture data about who visited your website
Sign up for a Facebook Business Manager account, install a pixel on your website and then create an Ads Account inside your FB Biz Manager. Go to the Custom Conversions section and define ‘buckets’ to capture visitors to your website or specific pages on your website.

How to capture data about who visited your Facebook page
Now, head over to the Audiences section and define ‘buckets’ to capture visitors to your Facebook pages. You cannot set up to many but pick the most relevant options for now.

Just doing these two things, you are already ahead of most of your competition. This will make you able to target people who are in the ‘buckets’ or to ask Facebook to find people with the same characteristics and behaviour as the people in your buckets.

STEP 2 - Getting people to your page or website

Have a free PDF or something else you can mention in a soft way here and there when appropriate

Obviously, you can also run ads to attract more people to this, but that would, of course, be more cost-effective once you have a little more certainty who should be your target audiences. One approach is, however, to invest a little money in ads to a broad audience. A bit like throwing spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks. If you can afford its a shortcut worth considering.

But there are cheaper and even free options (you pay with your time instead):

  • Go to blogs you imagine your preferred customer would be active in. Get involved in the discussions and build relationships. Mention resources on your webpage when appropriate. Also check out Quora, Medium, Reddit etc.
  • Same for groups on the social media platforms where your audience is hanging out. Everybody is on Facebook. More and more are on Instagram. What you need to understand is if there are platforms where there is an overweight of your audience present. If you are targeting professionals just now shifting job, LinkedIn would be an obvious choice for example. Engage in discussions and contribute with not so much opinions but valuable information and processes people can use to solve problems. Stand out with more thorough information. Paragraphs - not just 3 words.
  • Look at who is commenting on your competitors best and most relevant content. You can find out what that content is using Ubersuggest. Look some of them up on social media and find groups they are involved in and contribute there. And while you are in Ubersuggest you can find inspiration for content that is getting a lot of traffic and make better versions of that content using less competitive keywords. You might be able to capture some of the traffic slipping by them.
  • Do LIVE teaching or coaching and ask people to tag others who need the same information. If you can create engagement (live or even after the live streaming), Facebook will help you push out the streaming to more people they think will like the content too. Ask people to like your page, get the PDF on your website or something else, that will get them pixel and make it possible for you to target them later. Get them into your buckets. You can, in fact, also create a custom conversion bucket for the video views on your live stream.

These are just a few ideas I’ve found useful. Stay true to your brand and be a little scrappy. Get into real conversations and bring people to your pages - one by one if you have to.

STEP 3 - Letting analytics and algorithms do their magic

Now you have visitors and followers, you’ve opened up new opportunities for yourself.

Here are a few of them:

  • You can use a number of tools to help you get insights into who ‘your people’ are. The more visitors, the more valid a picture you can paint of who you are successfully attracting to your business. Google Analytics and Facebook Audience Insights inside your Facebook Business Manager can be helpful.
  • Once you have enough visitors, you can start running ads to your buckets
  • You can also create ‘lookalike’ audiences on Facebook and have the algorithm find similar profiles to show your ads to.

This strategy is all about building an audience first and then learn how you can best serve them. I love this approach because sales and marketing is all about emotions, trust and connection between human beings.

If they love how you helped them outside your business, they will love how you can help them inside your business.

Start with serving. Then see who follow and focus the majority of your attention on them. Let Facebook find more who look like them to grow your business.

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