Few ways to learn about your target audience
The target audience maybe the first thing every business needs to be acquainted with. But surprising fact is that most of them have no clue about it. And this is not an exaggeration. If you ask the head of sales who the target audience is, he or she may have an answer, but does this sales exec know why this is the target market? What problems this market faces? What this market trusts and distrusts? What its members love and loathe, fear or anticipate?
And what’s most important, target audience is not something you learn about the once. It needs to be learned permanently.
Unless you’re closely familiar with the psychology of your target market, any demographics you claim are mere semantics. If you want your messaging to be right on target, you need to go a step further and get to know your customers better. How do you do that? Here are few methods to know your target audience:
Do NOT surrender to your assumptions.
Don’t assume anything. Let’s say you’ve decided your target market is middle-aged women. Why? You may have gone even further, assuming certain styles or directions of messaging appeal to them.
But don’t take any of this for granted. Unless you have more than anecdotal evidence backing up your claim, get rid of it.
Learn from others’ experience
You don’t have to spend a time doing of what has already done. Read up on some case studies, examples and psychological analyses by marketers who have come before you. Sources include industry reporters, general market researchers and, in some cases, sociologists. Filter your data to ensure the research is as relevant and as recent as possible.
Create a customer character
Once you’ve collected enough objective data to start forming solid conclusions, you can start crafting a customer persona. This persona is basically a fictional character who exhibits all the traits an “average” member of your target audience is expected to have.
Include hard factors like age, sex, education level and income, as well as disposition factors like temperament, sensitivity or curiosity.
Conduct large-scale quantitative surveys
Now it’s time to back up your assumptions and conduct some primary research (rather than the secondary research described above). Start with large-scale quantitative surveys, covering the widest cross-section of your audience possible. Your questions should be multiple-choice, giving you hard statistics that can teach you about your audience’s habits.
Look to your competitors.
Your competitors may have already done such market research and put it into action. If they target the same audience you do, observe and learn from the way they write and advertise to their potential customers. If they don’t, look for ways that you can distinguish yourself.
Look to other popular products and services used by your customers
Look for products and services that your target audience is already using - unrelated to your industry. How do these brands position themselves? What kinds of messaging do they use?
And what’s most important, listen to social conversations.
Use social listening software in combination with targeted social lists to zero in on what your customers are saying online. What trending topics are they following most closely? Whom do they usually interact with, and why?
Again, you can look for other brands that may emerge as successful messengers.
Examine interactions with your brand.
You can use social listening software again, and tap into Google Analytics to examine user behavior on your site. Evaluate how your target demographics are interacting with your brand: Do you get lots of blog comments and social shares? Use this data to fine-tune your approach.
Allow some room to grow
You’ll never have a perfect understanding of your target audience. Even if at some point you did, your audience members would evolve and change as soon as you figured them out. Allow some breathing room in your strategy, and always strive to understand your audience a little bit better.
None of these methods can, by themselves, give you a perfect portrait of the “average” customer in your target demographics; populations are too diverse and too unpredictable for any one set of assumptions to hold true. Thus, better method for knowing your target audience is permanent observation of it.