Appealing to your target customer is the key to a successful marketing strategy. But who are they, and how can you know what they want?
Understanding your target audience
Your ideal target customer will depend on your business model. To better plan your marketing strategy and other business goals, first identify, “Who are your current best customers?” You can go through your recent records to identify, not necessarily just the customers who generate the most revenue, but the customers who are the most profitable, and even the most pleasant to work with: the kind of customers who make you say, “I want some more clients like them.”
Next, are you planning to enter a new market? This could be a new demographic segment, a new geographical region, or even an entirely new business offering. You are probably planning to enter a new market if your business is still new; if too few of your current clients are meeting your target profitability margin for the business; or if you have recently changed the business emphasis.
Once you have identified your ideal target market, it is time to learn some more about them. The most direct method is to ask them to fill in a survey. Some companies commonly offer some sort of incentive for filling out such surveys; however it’s not necessary, because many clients are happy to provide information at the outset, or feedback at the conclusion of a project. On the other hand if you are trying to enter a new market, you’re more likely to need some alternative strategies. See if you can get a small sample of your new market to either fill out your survey or even participate in a focus group.
Many marketers only focus on using these types of information-gathering tools for obtaining contact information that can be used for future marketing purposes. This is really a lost opportunity. Try to get to really know your customer better.
What do you want to know?
Some key demographics for customer profiling would include:
- Household income (and/or business revenue for B2B marketing)
- Zip code
Income can be a sticky question. It’s best to provide a multiple-choice set of general ranges, rather than asking for a specific number. And it’s better to make this question optional, rather than risk losing out on superior participation rates.
But these are still very general questions. These aren’t the types of questions you would ask your friends. Think of your best customers as your friends, and ask them more interesting questions.
- What do they do for a living?
- What do they do for fun?
- What media do they consume? (TV shows, radio programs, favorite websites, and any magazines or newspapers)
- Where do they hang out?
- Who are their best friends?
These are some of the types of questions that really help you to understand your target customer’s personality and lifestyle.
Check out the competition
If there is a larger or entrenched competitor in your industry, examine their business model and marketing strategies to see what works well with your target customer. If your industry is highly competitive, with a large number of similarly-sized competitors, closely check out the ones who are most like you; or the ones who have been the most successful.
Here are some things to learn about your competitors.
- Where do they advertise? How do they specifically employ their different marketing channels?
- Other than advertising, what customer acquisition strategies are they known to utilize?
- What design choices do they make in their marketing materials and website?
- What iconography and imagery do they employ? How well does this imagery seem to connect with the target customer?
In many industries, examining your close competitors will yield a wealth of information about the best way to reach your target customer. What works for them can provide a good direction as you try to understand what will work for you.
In a few niche markets, your competitors may have actually not figured out their marketing strategy very well yet. If you are doing business in a niche market like this, then you have a tremendous opportunity to dominate the competition.
Gaining an improved understanding of your target customer’s traits and preferences is the key to a successful marketing campaign. There are many ways to obtain these insights. Begin by asking the customer; and follow up by examining your competition. You will gain important insights that will inform your marketing strategy.