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How well do you know your audience? It’s a question that every entrepreneur must carefully consider if they wish to make their products or services appealing to potential customers.
The better you know your audience, the easier it will be to speak to their specific pain points and to present your business as a desirable solution. While getting to know your audience better isn’t always easy, there are some proven practices that businesses have consistently used to gain the level of understanding needed to succeed.
Related: 5 Tips for Entrepreneurs to Better Serve Their Potential Customers
1. Start with what you already know
No entrepreneur is going to launch their company without at least some understanding of their target audience. Whether that knowledge stems from your own personal experience, focus groups you conducted when testing your product idea or even reviewing industry news and surveys, this is a valuable starting point for coming to understand your audience.
This initial set of information should serve as the foundation to help you focus your learning efforts. It probably isn’t as detailed as you need it to be, but it can provide a useful guide when deciding which pain points to explore or which competitors to evaluate.
2. Make the most of buyer personas
Buyer personas serve as a fictional composite of what your ideal customer looks like. When done right, they can help you better hone in on the types of messaging that will best appeal to your target consumer.
Buyer personas draw information from available data to help you better define target audience demographics, behavior, motivations and objectives. This tells you who they are, why they buy and even how they might go about doing business with you. Negative buyer personas can also be helpful in clearly identifying audiences that aren’t a good fit for your products or services.
Your buyer persona essentially serves as a representation of that data you’ve already accumulated. It ultimately makes it easier for you to visualize who you are selling to and how to appeal to them.
Related: How to Drill Down Into Your Buyer Personas to Create Hyper-Targeted Content
3. Utilize survey data
Additional surveys of existing customers and those who fit your preferred buyer persona can provide valuable qualitative insights into industry trends, specific details about your products or services and even the type of messaging that best appeals to them. Asking for honest feedback can help you better define your core messaging.
You don’t need to rely exclusively on your own internal surveys to gain better insights into your target audience. For example, travel insurance company Faye recently conducted a study that revealed, among other things, that 38 percent of Americans would sooner give up intimacy than travel — and that 40 percent are spending as much as $8,000 per international trip. For travel-related brands, such insights can be key to better understanding their audience’s mindset so they can market accordingly.
Notably, audience perspectives can shift over time. Regularly conducting surveys of your own and following other survey results that are relevant to your niche can help you adapt accordingly.
4. Look at successful competitors
Sometimes, evaluating successful competitors can provide the best insights into how to appeal to your target audience. Look at things like the brand voice, particularly in regards to the marketing tactics and messaging they use.
For example, outdoor brands might want to look at what has made the National Park Service Twitter account such a success. When you can identify patterns in the types of images or phrases successful competitors use, you may be able to incorporate similarly appealing facets into your own marketing.
Of course, evaluating your competitors can also help you identify opportunities where you are able to solve a pain point that they don’t. What types of complaints do your competitors receive? What services do their customers say they wish were available, but aren’t? These insights can prove key to differentiating your own services in a more meaningful way.
Related: How to Spy On Your Competition With Social Media
5. Monitor your audience engagement
In 2020, there were roughly 290 billion actions taken on brand-owned content on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Needless to say, audiences are significantly engaged with brands on social media and other online platforms — and this can be a valuable way to learn more about your audience in real-time.
How your audience responds to different social media posts or blog posts can go a long way in helping you understand the type of content that resonates with them. Understanding what works (and what doesn’t) will enable you to refine your messaging over time.
Of course, social media is far from the only place you can get valuable engagement. Customer support interactions, forum mentions and your own experiences during sales meetings can help you better understand what your audience values — and whether or not you’re successfully catering to their needs.
Even picking up on trends like how your clients speak differently than other audiences, or have different concerns or goals, can help you identify shared attributes that can better define your messaging and services.
To know is to sell
Truly getting to know your target audience requires a fair amount of work.
But the rewards are well worth the effort. When you utilize these methods to understand your customers on a more personal level, you will be far better equipped to adapt your marketing in a way that truly speaks to them. You’ll correctly identify their pain points, desires and goals. And you’ll be able to clearly articulate why your product or service is the right match.