How Ignoring Some People Makes You Stand Out to Others
A couple of weeks ago, I decided I wanted a new app to keep me up-to-date on business and marketing news. I scrolled through the app store briefly and didn’t find anything I liked. So, I eventually gave up and moved on to a different task.
Flash forward a week later and as I began scrolling through my Instagram feed, an ad popped up: “The business and marketing news app for busy marketers.” It immediately caught my attention. This was exactly what I was looking for and it was almost as if they were speaking directly to me. After all, I’m a busy marketer!
Now, imagine if that ad had said something like, “The best way to keep up-to-date on the latest trends in business and marketing.” Yawn. It’s not very imaginative, right? But unfortunately, I see businesses do this all the time.
The magic of identifying your target market is the freedom to speak directly to them. At first, it may feel like ignoring the mass market will result in missed opportunities, but on the contrary, it allows you to better resonate with those who are more likely to make a purchase.
For example: imagine you’re selling a pair of cute dog socks with dog characters on them of varying breeds. Which audience would you target: all pet owners or simply dog owners? You wouldn’t sell to cat owners or people who don’t even own pets at all! In fact, to narrow it down even further, you could even sell your corgi socks to corgi owners.
As you can see, there is so much power in narrowing down your messaging based on your target market. But first, you have to figure out who they are and do the research to make sure you’re using the right language to capture their attention.
Determining Your Target Market
Whether you’re promoting an ad on Facebook, writing copy for your website, or crafting a social media post for higher engagement, who you tell your story to is just as important, if not more so, than what you say.
Your ideal customers make up your target market. They’re the consumers who are going to identify with what you have to offer and say, “yes, I need that in my life”.
These are the people who would line up for hours outside your store door before launching a new product, tell everyone they know about you, and retweet everything you post. The first step in figuring out your target audience is jotting down the basic demographic information.
- What gender do they identify with?
- How old are they specifically (hint: pick one number, not a range)?
- Where are they from?
- Are they educated?
- Married? With kids?
From there, we explore their role at work:
- Are they employed full-time, part-time, self-employed, etc.?
- How do they feel about their career?
- What is their household income?
At this point, this is all going to be educated guessing based on experiences with previous customers and a picture of what your dream customers look like. The next step is to start doing the research to prove your speculations and get a better idea of who your people are.
If you’ve been in business for any period of time, you should have a good idea of who you enjoy working with and what kinds of customers you attract.
Start by reviewing your previous customers and confirming the guesses you made in the previous section. Then, reach out to them with a survey to start getting even deeper into who they are and what problems you were able to solve for them, specifically.
Ask questions like:
- How would they describe themselves? How would others describe them?
- What were your goals when you came to us? How did we achieve those goals?
- What were your concerns before working with me?
- What would they type into Google to find information about my product?
- What questions would they ask me/my sales team when approached with an opportunity to purchase?
- What keeps them awake at night?
- What do they see when they engage with us?
- What influences them and how?
- What outcome did they want by working with/buying from us? Did we meet that outcome?
- What do they value?
- What would have held them back from making the purchase?
Questions like this get at the heart of who they are and how you can influence people like them in the future to make the decision to work with or buy from you. If you’re a new business and don’t have much to work from, consider who your dream customer is.
Think about what kind of person you’d like to attract to your business, and then go out and actually find someone who resembles them. Approach them and ask whether they’d like to help you build your business by asking a few questions.
It might sound a little creepy at first, but as long as you’re transparent about the reason why you’re asking them questions, they should be more than willing to help.
The key here is not to just simply guess at your answers. You could be way off base and this would become detrimental to your marketing results as you won’t be hitting the right chords with your audience.
Crafting Your Messaging
This is the fun part! Now that you have your target audience all figured out, it’s time to create a brand message that aligns with exactly who they identify as and what they’re struggling with. As you’re creating your message, go back to the specific challenges your target customers are facing.
Think about stories you could use to address those challenges and prove the effectiveness of your solutions. As a small business owner, you have two stories to tell. First, there’s the story of how you got to where you are today; how you started, why you’re here, and the challenges you had to overcome to get to this point.
This portion should relate to the specific struggles and goals of your target market. Secondly, you have your customers’ stories. These are the challenges your customers face on a daily basis and how your product’s benefits solve them.
Talk to your salespeople or, if it’s just you, refer to your past customers and dive into those specific success stories. Once you have these stories in place, you can use them on your website, across your social media channels, in any marketing videos you create, and anywhere else you show up in front of your potential customers.
So, who’s your target market and how are you speaking directly to them? Let us know in the comments below!
Ashley Hoffman • Guest Blogger • Digital Marketer
Ashley Hoffman is a freelance digital marketer, writer, cat mom, and Seattle-based coffee snob. She recently started her business helping creative women-owned businesses find their voice, tell their story, and connect with their customers.
When she’s not helping fellow girl bosses tell their story, she’s listening to podcasts, reading, working on her novel, and co-leading a meetup group in Seattle. She spent a few months living in England and, since her return, wishes America would make afternoon tea a “thing.”