Stop! Your brand starts here. With your target audience. Before you even start creating a product or service, you have to know for whom you are creating and who will buy. Your product and your marketing must be aimed at the right kind of people – your target audience. This is not for me you might think because you don’t have any clients yet, but if you don’t target the right audience, the people you want to attract, even before you start, you won’t sell anything.
Who are you talking to?
Don’t get confused by the word audience. By audience I mean, your blog reader, customer or client. Generally, everyone who interacts with your brand. Knowing your audience is important because you’re not creating your product or service for yourself. You want to attract the right audience, so design and marketing for your product, your complete branding should be specially targeted to this audience.
In this case, it is good to know who you’re talking to. Even if you’re not aware of it but your voice or tone change depending on who you’re talking to. Read more on this topic >> How to find your brand voice. Before you can write copy that actually speaks to your audience, you have to define your audience. Be aware that we are going to change your point of view in order to find out, who exactly your target audience is.
Research? Yes, but do it right!
To get to know your target audience, you have to find out who they are. Big companies have their own research department and files upon files of analyzed data they can access anytime. However, as a solopreneur, you have to do your own research. But before you start, let’s talk about what is really vital to know about your audience. First things coming to your mind are probably general demographics like gender, age, location, income.
I am not saying that these are not useful, but are they really important? What image do you get from your ideal customer if you just look at numbers? If you’re like me, none at all. A postal code can tell you how long shipping takes, the income gives you a notion of how much money a person has but not how much he/ she is willing to spend and age? What about “you are as old as you feel”?
Change your point of view
The problem with these demographics is, you are probably misled by the information they give you and you might be niching your business to a circle of people or a certain profession.
The thing is, it is easier to sell to people which feel they can align with a similar mindset. If they share your opinion, thoughts, lifestyle, or even your sense of humor, they are more likely to buy from you than from someone else. Because buying decisions aren’t purely based on rational thinking, they are influenced by our feelings as well. If you want to know how our brains make these decisions, read this article by Simon Sinek.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a mindset is “the established set of attitudes held by someone”. These are formed by a person’s background, experiences they made during their life, the knowledge they acquired and the beliefs they formed for themselves. We have to change the way we think about our customers and build a brand that connects mindsets. Jürgen Salenbacher calls this the new dimension of branding and points out its relevance in his book Creative Personal Branding:
“The final goal for any brand today is to create trust and be relevant to a defined group of people with a similar mindset.”
From target audience to tribe
A group of people with a similar mindset can be called a tribe. When your customers become loyal fans of your brand they build a tribe around it.
“A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.” – Kevin Kelly
You can find out more about what true fans are and Kevin Kelly’s concept of how making this work for you in his article here.
In order to build a tribe, you have to take a deeper look into the mindset of your audience. Find out where we can reach this group of people (Twitter, Youtube, Instagram), how they talk, what their problems are, what they value, at what point they are in their lives and so on.
Observe, analyze, create. Learn everything you can about the mindset of the group of people you want to attract with your brand by observing their behavior and get insights into their beliefs. Analyze your insights to see how this can align with your brand and then create products, content, visuals to appeal to this mindset. Your marketing must be tailored to attract your ideal audience.
Here are some clues to look for when you want to find out more about people’s mindsets:
- What goals and dreams do they have?
- What problems are they facing in order to reach their goals?
- What fears do they have?
- How much effort do they put into reaching their goals?
- What do they value, what matters to them?
- What kind of failures and successes did they have in life?
- Where do they ask for help?
- Where can they be reached?
- How do they talk? What words do they use?
- Why do they behave a certain way?
- What is their opinion on certain topics that could be relevant for you?
- What do they have in common with your brand, your values …?
An exercise to define your target audience
It’s all about their story. After finding out what you need to know about your audience, you have to put this knowledge into action. Imagine the person you want to attract. The best way to do so is by creating an avatar. Giving this person a name and having an idea about who they are, will simplify your marketing. As an example, before you write a blog post, imagine you’re talking to this one person (your avatar). Start with: Hey, (put a name in here), I just found out about this new thing … and then start writing. By addressing this one person in your mind, your writing will come more naturally and be automatically targeted to your audience.
A good exercise is to write your avatar’s story. Write about one regular day in his or her life. What does this day look like from the moment they get up to the second they close their eyes? Where does your product/ service fit in there? When you create something now, you have this story to refer to. A kind of test to see if your creation aligns with your audience.