While finding customers for your small business is good for growth, finding the right customers is essential. The right customers are the ones who will stick with you, share their experiences on social media, refer you to their friends, and write reviews of your business. The right customers will engage and provide feedback to help you refine your services to the best they can be. These “right” customers are your target audience. They are the perfect fit for your business that will help it to thrive.
If your marketing plan focuses on satisfying and growing your target audience, your business and customers will face mutual success. Knowing your target audience will help you to determine what marketing methods to use for attracting new customers, and how to add additional value for retaining loyal customers.
Related: Sample Marketing Plans
You may think you know who the best fit for your business is, but you may be surprised at the results when you break things down. Below is a list of questions you can ask yourself to help you identify and get to know your target audience, as well as how to cater your marketing efforts accordingly.
The key questions to ask yourself about your business and your customers are: who, what, where, when, why, and how. Write down your answers so you can revisit them after and brainstorm additional ideas. Writing your answers also helps because information in your head can appear differently and trigger different ideas when visualized on paper.
Who: Who are your most frequent and most happy customers? Think in terms of demographics like gender, age, location, occupation, marital, and socioeconomic status. There may be a few different categories, but being specific will help you to consolidate and refine accordingly so you don’t end up with too many categories. Every business will have multiple categories of customers, but keep in mind that you’re trying to identify your categories of target customers. Make note of some of the similarities between these categories in order to identify marketing efforts that will be successful for all.
What: What do your customers do in their free time? Knowing their hobbies and daily activities can help you determine what kinds of products they will be most interested in, and the ways you can get in front of your customers. For example, if you are a fitness instructor and your target audience likes to make healthy recipes, you may want to consider posting flyers at a local health store or providing recipes on your website. Knowing what your target customers like to do can help you to increase your visibility and add more value to your business.
Where: Where is your business located? Are you near a residential neighborhood where there are a lot of families, or are you in the city where you see a lot of young professionals? Capturing the attention of these two populations will have different requirements. What other landmarks and businesses are around you? Do families come to your ice cream shop after their child’s baseball game, or do couples come in after a nice dinner nearby? Knowing where your target customers are coming from can help you cater your products accordingly, such as with a “grand slam discount” or a “home run hot fudge sundae.” Where do your customers live, and how are they getting to your business? Do you get walk-in customers because your business is in a busy pedestrian area, or are most of your customers driving in? Taking into account the “where” of your business and your customers enables you to reach and engage with them more effectively.
When: When do customers purchase from your business? Discovering the time of day that your target customers use your business will help you to better market to them. For example, if you are a hairdresser and your target audience comes in the morning, you may want to offer coffee and set a pile of business cards or coupons at the register. Knowing when your target customers are engaging with you can help you to interact with them in a more customized manner. There might also be a specific day, month, or season you bring in the most customers. This is relevant to seasonal businesses and to businesses that are based around specific needs, like wedding planning and photographers. Finding out when your target audience is most interested and most likely to make a purchase will ensure that you are maximizing your marketing efforts.
Why: Why do customers buy from your business? What problem is your business solving for them? What benefit is your business bringing to their lives? What passions or values do they have that make your business resonate with them? Find out the specific needs and values of your customers and cater the language of your marketing content around them. You can increase the appeal of your advertisements, blog posts, and other media by appealing to what is important to them. For more information on why customers buy, check out how to identify customer buying habits.
How: How do customers find your business? If they found you through an online search, you may want to consider online advertising or social media marketing. If they learned about you from a friend, you may want to look into referral discounts. Consider your current marketing efforts, what you’re currently doing to promote your business, and what’s working to bring in new customers and clients. If one of your efforts is paying off more than another, consider putting more time or money into that channel.
Your target audience is the group of people to focus your marketing efforts on. They will help your business to succeed and will amplify your efforts in getting your name out there. Knowing and building your target audience takes a bit of research, reflection, and time, but it is the key to marketing your business to an interested crowd and attracting more customers. It is also an ongoing process that will enable you to maximize your marketing efforts and add the most value.