MORE YOU KNOW: AUDIENCE RESEARCH TO DEFINE YOUR TARGET

Who is your product or service created for? What common attributes or characteristics do individuals share that make them perfect leads for your business?

Small business owners are naturally an ambitious bunch. When asked the most important question regarding their marketing strategy, “Who is your target audience?”, an instinctive response of “Everyone!” is not uncommon.

Of course, every business wants to accumulate as many customers as possible, but marketing specifically designed to reach particular customer profiles will drive higher conversion rates and provide a better return on investment.

The more informed you are about your target audience, the more relevant and targeted you can make your marketing. Important basic demographics could include age, gender, location, occupation, education, income level, or marital status, for example. These can help paint a better picture of your ideal customer, but it’s even more important to get an idea of ​​their challenges, pain points, purchase history, future purchase intentions and their honest comments about your business.

How to find out more about your target audience?
Let’s start with the audience you already have! Talk to your current customers and consider offering them a small incentive to give honest feedback or complete a formal survey.

Ask questions relevant to your brand that reveal customers’ shopping needs and provide insight into their buying tendencies. These should include a mix of simple yes/no, qualitative/quantitative, and open-ended questions tailored to your business and industry.

For example:

• How often do you buy ______?
• What are the most important factors in deciding where to buy ______?
• How would you rate your previous experiences of buying ______?
• Are you considering buying from us again?
• What would you change about the buying experience of ______?
• Where are you most likely to view, participate in, and interact with company promotions?

Your collected responses, combined with demographic information and any relevant purchase history, can help you create a handful of unique customer profiles. By creating these personas, you’ll begin to get an idea of ​​what matters most to which customers and who you should be marketing to.

When you know more about your customer profiles and what’s valuable to them, you can better refine and personalize messages to help you achieve your marketing goals much more effectively. You’ll find out where you’re most likely to reach them, which marketing methods produce a response, and most importantly, drive sales.

Researching your market and surveying your target audience to create customer personas can seem like a digital wild west of small business marketing unknowns. Before diving into customer surveys and target audience research, it’s important to have an action plan and strategy in place.

Amanda Parker is owner and president of Collective Alternative, a full-service marketing, advertising and public relations firm specializing in local affairs.

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