Have you been checking your customer feedback of late? If so, what does it tell you?
Feedback from your customers will tell you either of two things: you’re serving them well and they love your product or they’re disappointed and therefore leaving you for the competition.
What does your customer feedback tell you?
If your business isn’t meeting its sales and growth targets, then what you need to check is the product or service you offer. No matter how much you’ve invested in the product, as long as it’s not selling, something is wrong.
But before rushing to improve the product, first ask yourself, who exactly is this product supposed to benefit?
If you take time to think about that question and start thinking hard about the answer, you’ll realize that you’ve either been selling the wrong product to the right people or the right product to the wrong people.
The solution to this problem is simple: get to know your customer. Knowing your customer will tell you what he needs. And if you’re yet to start your business, this is a good time to learn how to identify the customer you should target.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps you need to take in order to confidently define your target audience, understand their needs, create the solution they need, meet them where they are and make the sales you need for your business to grow.
It’s time you got empowered for business success.
Let’s get started.
What is a Target Audience?
In order to understand what a target audience is, you need to first of all understand what a target market is. It’s out of the target market that you get a target audience.
So what is a target market?
A target market is a clearly-defined segment of customers that you want to sell your product or service to. These are the people whose needs you know your product or service will satisfy. An example of a target market is men over 55 years old.
The reason you define a target market is because you know your product can’t be suitable to everyone. Take for instance a car. Does everyone want or need a car? No. For some people, motorbikes are better. Others prefer cycling.
Choosing a target market is the first thing you do—sometimes unconsciously—when thinking of starting a business. This is true for every type of business. Even when starting a blog, you have to be clear who you’re targeting.
If a target market is the segment of customers you want to reach, then what is your target audience?
A target audience is a smaller selection of potential customers whom you actually expect to buy your product or service. Depending on what you want to accomplish, your target audience could also be the people you expect to respond to a particular marketing message or advertising campaign. An example is men over 55 years old who own luxury yachts.
The idea of defining your target audience is based on the fact that just because you’re targeting a section of well-defined prospects, not all of them will really be interested in your offering. At least not to the point of making a purchase.
Importance of Defining Your Target Audience
As a business owner or as one with a business idea you want to implement, you could be imagining your business attracting many customers and growing big. But as history teaches, to succeed in business, you have to decide who to sell your products or services to.
Embracing this fact will help you spend less on time and money while gaining more, since you targeted the right prospects.
Defining your target audience is an exercise that takes time and effort. So, is it really worth it?
If data is anything to go by, you would rather lose some sleep and spend the time. Not knowing who exactly to sell to will mean you fail to meet revenue projections and eventually close shop.
Taking the time to identify who to sell to has numerous benefits. Defining your target audience will help you:
- Develop your product line – if you don’t know who you’re selling to, can you really create a product or service that will sell? Your target audience will determine the product you create and how it works because it’s supposed to satisfy their specific needs.
- Set the right prices – pricing is a big challenge, especially for startups and small businesses. If you set your prices too high, few people or no-one will buy. If you set them too low, you lose out on revenue. But if you know your customer well, you’ll know what price to sell to him at.
- Determine the right marketing channels – there are different marketing channels and they attract people with different interests. Knowing your target audience helps you spend time and money on the right marketing channels instead of assuming that everyone is on Facebook or will watch your TV ads.
- Highlight the right product features – whereas your product may have many features, you have to know which ones to highlight in order to quickly convince your prospects to buy. These are the features they need and you have to communicate them accordingly. To do this, you have to know what the prospect needs.
- Determine the right keywords to use – your marketing efforts are probably not going to be very effective without SEO. When implementing SEO, you’ll have to prioritize the use of keywords since these are the terms prospects actually search for.
Identifying the customer you want to serve is crucial. It not only helps you make the most of your marketing efforts but also safeguards your whole business.
At a time when businesses are becoming more and more customer-centric and customers are demanding more personalized experiences, not having a defined target audience is similar to running with a blindfold on.
On the other hand, having a clearly-defined target audience helps your whole team know who they’re serving. That makes it easier to attract and retain the customer while keeping marketing costs in check.
How to Define Your Target Audience
Defining your target audience is all about understanding the customer, your offering, your competitor’s offering, knowing how to reach your prospect and how to sell to them.
This involves several steps. Let’s look at these.
1. Specify What Audience You Want to Serve (+ Target Audience Examples)
Before you started your business, who did you have in mind as your potential customer? If you’re yet to start your business, then this is a good opportunity to “test” your choice of a target market and audience to see whether it’s the right one.
To specify what audience you’re going to serve, you need to start from the top coming down. Look at the bigger picture and determine what kind of customers you want to serve.
Are you targeting a B2B or B2C audience? These have different needs and their buying processes differ. Whereas a B2C audience can make decisions quickly, even on impulse, a B2B audience can’t afford to do that. Every major decision must go through several people.
Are you targeting individuals or families? An individual, especially an unmarried person has fewer things to be concerned about (in most cases) compared to a married person.
Also, targeting families means you’ll have to think about children in your marketing strategies, something that might have little impact on someone without a family.
Are you targeting employees or business owners?
Take for instance a bank offering loans. If targeting employees, their message might be about homes and vacations while ensuring their salaries can sustain loan repayment and a comfortable lifestyle.
If the bank is however targeting business owners, they will appeal to the desire for business growth.
Creating a Detailed Buyer Persona
Whether you’re selling to a business or individual consumer, you must have a clear picture of that entity. You can attain that only by creating a buyer persona.
A buyer persona is a detailed description of who your buyer is. This description contains all the information you can expect a real person to have.
In some circles, buyer personas even have names and a business will create up to five buyer personas. These are not too many and they certainly won’t go against the principle of defining your target audience.
Different buyer personas will usually be quite similar but have some differences in order to show the kind of prospects that could find your offering attractive.
For instance, you could target men who are over 55 years old with an annual income of $250,000 looking to buy a retirement home. These could be the ones likely to afford your offering. However, you could also have those of a similar age, with an income of $200,000 but with savings they could use to buy a retirement home.
Identifying these people comes down to two sets of data: demographics and psychographics.
Demographics are the set of data defining who your buyer is. Demographics data usually includes:
- Education level
- Income level
- Marital status
Demographics data are easy to come by, even from the public domain. Example sources are census data, vital statistics and sample surveys.
Psychographics provide more details about your target audience and they’re more complex. Psychographics are used to tell you why a customer buys your product or service.
Psychographics are key in determining how successful your marketing campaigns will be because they influence buyers’ perspectives of your product.
These are elements which will determine how your target audience will respond to your messages and what kind of messages will draw their attention.
- Regular activities
To get this information, you’ll usually have to either know the audience well, interview some of them, use data from research companies or analyze social media data.
Target Audience Examples
To help you see how to define the audience you want to serve, here are some practical examples. Look at how the expertise or skills on the left match with the need on the right.
|Graphic designer||Startups looking for affordable yet high-quality images for logos and other marketing materials|
|Motor vehicle insurance company||Long distance truck drivers with families and trucking companies|
|Nutritionist||Women with an income of over $75k looking for health advice|
|Psychiatrist||Teenagers with mental health, emotional and behavioral problems|
|Luxury car manufacturer||Wealthy entrepreneurs below 45 years living in California|
2. What Problem Does Your Audience Want to Get Solved?
Your target audience has problems which they want solved. As a business, your role is to find out what those problems are and solve them. These problems are also known as pain points.
The whole exercise of defining your target audience is aimed at finding out what a specific group of consumers is struggling with. Once you have this information, you can more easily pitch your solution in a way that shows it’s just what the customer needs.
To know how important finding out your customers’ pain points is, consider the findings of this Elastic Path survey:
- 56% of customers expect brands to offer Amazon Alexa support within a year
- 67% of consumers say that they would switch to a different brand if it offered a more futuristic experience
- 72% of customers expect that within a year, brands should offer curbside pickup while 75% expect same-day delivery
From the above numbers, you can pick up a few things, including a demand for new technology. One thing that’s however very clear is the desire for more convenience.
The reasoning goes something like this…
If I can make purchases from home and save 2 hours of travel and shopping, why not receive the products the same day?
If I can search the internet for the best movie to watch by just talking to Alexa, why not shop the same way?
Customers understand that they have options and they’re all looking for the best experience. Yet the experiences are supposed to be more personalized than ever.
This makes it impossible for you as a business owner to satisfy your customers’ needs through guess work or previously-held beliefs about what your customers want.
Finding out your customers’ pain points is no longer an exercise for big companies with money and lots of human resources. It’s a necessary exercise for everyone who wants to get into and remain in business.
Types of Pain Points
Different customers have different needs and even buyer personas can fail to identify some needs. This means that there are many pain points and you have to do some research to find out what they are.
Pain points can be divided into four main categories:
- Financial pain points – these have to do with the amount of money prospects are spending on the solution they’re currently using. The problem here is that they’re spending too much and they want to reduce their spend
- Productivity pain points – this is all about efficiency. Your prospects are wasting too much time in using their current solutions. They’re looking for ways of achieving the same or more goals/results as they achieve with their current solutions while saving some time
- Process pain points – your target audience has discovered that their internal processes are holding them back. They need to improve them if they are to enjoy higher profits
- Support pain points – these point to the lack of proper or adequate support your prospects are receiving in the course of the business relationship. This could be any time from before they make a purchase to the after-sales services they receive.
Although it’s easy to think that most pain points are financial in nature, research shows that this is not always the case. More and more, customers are rating brands on the basis of the experience they have.
How to Identify Customer Pain Points
Identifying your customers’ pain points requires some effort from your end. You need to be willing to conduct this exercise because your business literally depends on it.
You can also refine your target audience and increase your knowledge of their pain points in the course of running your business. In fact, if you have a running business, knowing your customers becomes easier since you can reach them for feedback.
So, how do you identify your customers’ pain points?
We have seven different ways you can do this and you can use some or all of them.
Physically locate and ask your prospects
Whether you already have a business or are still in the planning stage, this method is perfect for getting insight into your prospects’ needs.
Identify the customers who fit your buyer persona and engage them about their pain points. Ask them what they think and feel about the solutions which exist in the market and. Also make sure you capture both their words and emotions.
With emotions being what trigger customer action, you can utilize this information in your marketing campaigns later on.
Use online tools
The internet is a huge library which you can consult for your customer research. With various tools to help you unearth valuable insights into customer activities, you can easily get the answers you seek with just a few clicks and some typing.
AnswerThePublic will tell you which questions people are asking regarding a specific subject. The free tool does a good job of categorizing the questions into What, Why, Which, When and Who.
Here are the search results of the search phrase “facebook marketing” from AnswerThePublic:
Just typing out one search term gives you insight into the kind of questions people are asking about the subject. This can tell you what specific challenges they’re facing.
Now head over to SEMrush and type in the same search term. Once you get the results, click on the Keyword Magic Tool link on the left side of the window and see what it brings up.
The tool tells you more about the search phrase, including the search volume, search trend and the number of URLs displayed in the organic search results.
From these results, you can see that the search for “Facebook marketing” has been consistent over the past 12 months with a slight growth.
From this, you can conclude that for a whole year, either people have never gotten the help they need with Facebook marketing or more people are getting into social media marketing and they need help with Facebook marketing.
Whichever the case, this confirms that there is a need which needs to be met.
Check out product review sites
You can also direct your research efforts towards product review sites. These are great for finding out customers’ complaints about products and services and even brands.
In these sites, you’ll come across questions asked about how good a product is. Some questions may be about how to use a product or even what alternatives exist of the mentioned product or service.
With users speaking openly about the solutions they use and the reasons for moving to alternatives, you can pick up a lot of information.
These questions and comments will tell you what customers are struggling with, what they like or don’t like, and therefore, point you to specific pain points.
Monitor social channels
With the advent of social media, people have become more and more open about their lives. Apart from sharing their lives online, social media users often voice their complaints about products and services on these platforms.
These complaints and criticisms are usually meant to help their connections make better choices while also pushing businesses to improve their services.
As someone conducting customer research, social media is a gold mine. However, digging through the conversations may not be very easy since there are millions of posts published every day.
Social listening is what brands do in an effort to quickly identify conversations about their brands and products and respond accordingly. This is usually in an effort to prevent their online image from being tainted.
The same tools are however used also by marketing teams for customer and competitive research. Use them to find out what social media users are saying about products, services and brands.
Conduct online surveys
Surveys are a common way of collecting customer feedback and many businesses use these as their main information gathering tools.
Online surveys are easy and flexible. You can conduct them on social media, on your website or even through email.
Using email can give you insight into the experiences both customers and prospects have with your brand. Since every email subscriber has taken the customer journey your business created, they can help you pinpoint specific issues along that journey.
There are many tools which can help you with online surveys. Some of the most popular ones include:
- SurveyMonkey – this leading survey solution enables you to create comprehensive questionnaires within minutes. Includes features such as survey sharing, team analysis, data exporting, benchmarks and multilingual surveys.
- Typeform – a tool that focuses on user interaction asking only one question at a time. This proves to increase engagement and gets you more thoughtful responses. Typeform boasts of up to 4x survey completion rates than what the industry considers standard.
- SurveySparrow – marketed as an omni-channel experience management platform, this tool helps you create recurring surveys, white label surveys, conversational forms as well as video surveys. It also integrates with Slack, Salesforce, Mailchimp and many other popular apps in over 20 categories like event management, accounting and analytics.
- Qualtrics – primarily a customer experience company, it’s survey platform is used by over 80% of Fortune 100 companies. It uses chatbots, delivers surveys to mobile devices and allows for customization using code for automated survey creation and launch.
- Google Forms – a simple solution for surveys, polls and any other data-collection exercise. You can choose a theme for your form or have one created based on your logo, use different types of questions as well as page branching and question skip logic.
Run on-site surveys
One of the easiest ways to get information from your customers is by running on-site surveys. Also known as on-page surveys, these give you a lot of insight into your website visitors.
From the information you gather, you’ll be able to understand what drives visitors to your website and what their experiences are. Some of the questions you can get answers to include:
- Which blog content is most loved and why?
- What information do visitors look for and do they find it? If they don’t, what do they do?
- Are there any web pages which are not loading properly or have inaccurate information and need fixing?
- How easy or difficult is it to make a purchase on your online store?
Although not all customers will take your surveys, you can increase their effectiveness by designing them well. One of the best ways of doing this is by utilizing the triggers built into website surveys.
Triggers such as scrolling 50% of a page, visiting certain pages or being on a product description page for more than 1 minute can bring up a survey which asks relevant questions. You can ask visitors what information they’re looking for, whether they would like help finding a product or what their experience on your site was like.
Answers to these questions will help you determine what challenges your prospects are having on their journey to becoming customers.
Use live chat
The power of live chat lies in the fact that it provides one-on-one interactions. When a website visitor accepts to chat with you to answer questions about their experience, you’re likely to gain a lot of insight from the interaction.
Customers like talking about their experiences, especially if the interaction could lead to a better experience. They will openly tell you where they got stuck so as not to make a purchase. They could even mention something about your competitor that could help you improve.
Comm100 conducted a study whose findings revealed that 82% of customers were satisfied with their live chat experience. This is compared to 61% of those who used email and 44% of phone users.
How and When Does This Problem Occur in the Customer Journey?
A customer journey is the path a prospect takes before becoming a paying customer. A customer journey also reflects the design of your sales funnel. It shows how prospects move from the point of contact with your business to the point of making a purchase.
The customer journey typically starts before the prospect knows about you, and extends to the interaction he has with your brand after making a purchase. The interaction with your business at different levels, also known as touchpoints, is what will determine whether he’ll buy or not and afterwards, whether he’ll be loyal.
If you are to identify your customers’ pain points and streamline your processes for higher profits, you’ll have to understand the customer journey.
Understanding how prospects discover your products and engage with you until the point of making a purchase will help you design the customer journey for efficiency on your end and convenience for your customers.
The customer journey has three stages:
- Before – this is the stage where the customer is yet to find out about your business or solution. He’s out there looking for information and may get to know about you through social media ads, billboards, online reviews or from a friend.
- During – the interaction with you starts once the prospect sets out to know more about you. They might visit your website, check out your online store, visit a branch or even call your sales office.
- After – once the customer makes the purchase, more interaction could happen. Are there issues with the product requiring returns? Do they need any product support? Are you sending them periodic newsletters and is the information relevant? This is the phase that often determines whether the customer will become loyal or will keep searching.
To better understand the customer journey of your business and possibly spot some pain points, you can take the journey yourself. Make sure you take a customer’s perspective otherwise you might end up believing that all is well when it’s not.
For better results, get a few people from your team to take the journey. You can also dig through your database for one-time and returning customers who are willing to help you with this.
If you don’t have a running business yet, you can go through the customer journey designed by your would-be competitors.
Start with some keywords and see whether they have ads based on those keywords. Proceed to social media and check their posts. Head over to their website to find out how easy it is to locate a product, get information about the product and check out.
Engage their live chat agent if they have one, call their sales office and ask questions to find out how helpful and informed their teams are. Tell them you want to return a product and see how they deal with it.
Whether it’s your own customer journey or that of a competitor, take note of whatever obstacles you find along the journey. If it’s your business, these are what you need to improve on. If it’s a competitor’s customer journey, then create a solution which deals with the issues you spotted.
Example of pain point along the customer journey
To help you see how to identify pain points and how often customers communicate them, here’s an example.
With customers being short of time and patience, they expect quick and relevant responses whenever they raise queries. This happens on company websites a lot when the prospect is looking for a product or information regarding a product or service.
Drift conducted research on 433 sales teams to find out how fast they were responding to queries on their sites. They went ahead and researched how the response times affected lead generation.
The results showed that as businesses take time to respond, prospects are cutting their visits short. In fact, 5 minutes was the maximum most visitors could wait for a live chat response.
Can you identify the pain point in this case?
The pain point is delayed responses to customer queries. Not only are prospects frustrated but the business also loses on leads that could increase revenue.
3. How is Your Offering Solving this Pain Point Much Better Than The Competition?
In most situations, customers have different options when it comes to who they buy from. They will just do a comparison between competitors and choose one over the others.
For the prospects, this is good. For you however, this isn’t so good, unless you’re the one being chosen by the prospect over the competition.
Let’s look at how you can deal with different types of pain points.
Solving Financial Pain Points
Financial pain points play a big role in determining which product a customer will buy. This is because customers want both quality and affordability. Between these two, affordability ranks higher for many consumers.
Many customers are willing to sacrifice high quality for affordability. In many cases though, what is sacrificed isn’t necessarily the quality but the extra features which the prospect doesn’t think he needs.
You can see an example of this in the software industry. A customer may for example buy a simple email package and avoid paying a higher subscription fee for extra features. But this doesn’t mean that the extra features aren’t necessary. It’s only that this particular customer doesn’t need them.
To solve financial pain points, you need to bring your cost of doing business down. This will enable you to charge a smaller fee, thus helping your target audience save on costs.
Depending on your unique business situation, you can decide to reduce advertising costs and focus on word-of-mouth and email marketing. You can also purchase raw materials in bulk to enjoy lower prices. If you are a startup, you can pay your employees a lower salary but complement it with stock.
Whichever way you go about this, just make sure you don’t compromise on product functionality.
Solving Productivity Pain Points
People want more efficiency in their lives and more time to do the things they love.
For some, this is about spending more time with family and friends. For others, they want time to travel. Your prospects are however not achieving their goals because time is being “lost” somewhere.
Often, customers don’t even know where exactly the problem lies. You’ll therefore need to understand their situation well, know the weaknesses of their current solutions, maybe even understand their habits then build a solution which solves the time problem.
To solve productivity pain points, you just need to focus on improving efficiency. Also look for ways of helping your target audience develop concentration by removing distractions from their environment.
This could mean lots of different things for different people. A good example of a solution which solves productivity pain points is a browser plugin which blocks social media sites during specified times.
Solving Process Pain Points
Process pain points can be difficult to identify, let alone solve. This is mainly because the people involved often get used to the processes and hold on to them.
Embracing change is not easy and people can put up a resistance, whether openly or behind the scenes, when required to change. If you’re tasked with bringing change, you’ll need to be tactful in your communication and show the involved parties how they will benefit from the solution.
Solving a process pain point for businesses must include automated tasks to reduce the level of human involvement.
Your offering should also, ideally, include helping customers see how to utilize the extra time they have in their hands.
For instance, you could help them focus their “extra” time and efforts on innovation so as to have a better solution for their own customers.
Solving Support Pain Points
Support pain points are among the most common. Some businesses however don’t even seem to realize it.
Consider a prospect who wants to buy from you. Since he needs more information before making the purchase, he reaches out to sales. The sales team however doesn’t get back to him or they take too long and the prospect decided to look elsewhere.
The situation could also be that after making the purchase, the customer needed help setting up or using the product but little to no help was forthcoming. Or maybe they were returning a purchased product and faced many obstacles along the journey.
Some of the worst experiences customers have in their interaction with brands are related to customer experience. And the effects on the business are equally bad.
To solve support pain points, you need to invest in customer support.
Map out your customer journey and identify all the touch points. After that, make sure there are customer support employees at hand to handle issues coming up at those touch points.
Customer experience employees need training not only on product knowledge but also communication. They should be good listeners who can empathize with customers and ensure problems are solved.
4. Do They Have the Budget and Willingness to Pay for Your Offering?
You have a solution or at least know the solution you need to come up with. But then, are you sure your prospects will buy it?
It’s one thing to develop the solution the market needs and it’s something totally different to have your target audience buy that solution.
There are two factors you need to consider here: the prospects’ budget and their willingness to spend money on your offering.
These two go hand in hand because someone could have the money but isn’t willing to spend it on your product. Someone else might be desperate for your product but doesn’t have the money to buy it.
From your calculated costs of production and buyer persona data, you can easily know whether your prospects can afford your product. But are they willing to spend on it?
Here are some things you can do to find out.
Collect feedback from your target audience
There is nothing as assuring than getting to hear from your customers directly. So go out there and find some people who fit your buyer persona and talk to them about your product.
Since these people have the problem you’re trying to solve, telling them about your solution should ideally excite them.
If this is a product you’ve already developed, give them a sample. Let them use it and give you feedback about everything from features to usability. Observe their body language to pick up cues as to what their experience with your offering is like.
In case the solution is not yet created, show them prototypes, even if it’s just a picture. Ask them whether they’ve purchased products which dealt with their problem. How much did they pay for it? Did the product solve their problem?
If your offering is going to be more expensive, ask them whether, for the solution which is solving their problem, they can pay for it.
If you get a “yes” or “definitely,” you’re on the right track. If you get a “no” or see that they seem unsure about it, you may need to re-check your buyer persona.
What if you don’t know anyone fitting your buyer persona who you could engage?
In that case, the internet should come in handy. Head over to the online forums and online groups where your target audience hangs out and ask them. Use Facebook Groups, Reddit and any other relevant forum to get to your target audience.
You could also look up professional bodies and interest groups which have meetups and engage them there. All you need is some excitement and a resounding “yes” to confirm the willingness to buy.
Create a Landing Page
Landing pages are great for judging the level of interest your target audience has in your offering.
In fact, it’s a good idea to use this to gauge the willingness of your prospects to make a purchase even before you create your product.
You can create a landing page which a search engine ad or social media ad links to. Once someone gets to this page and takes the action you wanted them to take, then you know that there is interest in your offering.
The design of the landing page is also important if you’re to achieve high conversion rates.
Make sure both your ad and landing page copy speak about the pain points you collected. Also ensure that your landing page includes beautiful visuals and a clear call-to-action (CTA).
For extra benefit and proof of interest, you can create an ebook about the pain points and how your solution deals with them. Offer this for free download and enjoy the extra benefit of building your email list.
The best and boldest way of them all is to ask your prospects to pay before they get the product.
If you’re yet to start a business, this might be challenging since you’re not known. People don’t always quickly part with their cash simply because someone has made a promise.
All the same, this is still worth trying since it’s the best way of gauging whether people will really buy. If pre-orders start coming in within hours and are sustained over a few days, then you can quickly produce the solution and deliver it.
If you already have a business, it’s relatively easy to pull this one off since people already know you. It’s easier to trust someone already known as opposed to a total stranger.
To cover for not being known, create a presence in social media and share some insightful information to attract attention. Link your social media profile, the informative posts you publish as well as any ads you might use to the landing page you created.
The main call-to-action on the landing page should be the pre-order.
To further create a buzz about your upcoming product, you can offer a discount for early buyers. Afterwards, monitor the feedback and see what you need to do to make things better for your customers and your bottom line.
5. Identify Who is Influencing the Buying Decision
Buying decisions are rarely made by only one person who consults no-one else but themselves. This is true in both the B2B and B2C scenarios.
Let’s look at both these customer types and see how to send the right marketing message and close the deal.
Identifying the Influencers in a B2C Sales Process
Selling to individual customers is much easier than selling to corporate customers. The reason is simple: individual customers make decisions faster than business customers.
In many cases, B2C customers are the ones with the need, are the ones controlling the finances and are the key decision makers. As such, if you can convince them of your product’s suitability, they can buy immediately.
All the same, B2C customers don’t make decisions in a vacuum. You might not know the influencers and they may not wield too much influence depending on the exact situation. All the same, it pays to recognize their existence.
Being aware of potential behind-the-scenes influencers and how much they could tilt the scales puts you in a good place to plan accordingly. Here are few potential influencers to keep in mind:
You may not think much about your prospect’s family members. You probably don’t even know them, unless you go through their social media accounts to see whether they’ve listed family members who you can check out. Still, family members can have some influence on your prospect.
If someone’s siblings use a certain solution and they speak well of it, your prospect might be thinking of buying the same solution.
When siblings are growing up together, especially where there’s a strong bond, they often influence one another to do the same things.
If such a prospect is considering your product and the siblings are using a different one, he may not make a decision quickly. You’ll notice that despite agreeing that your product is superior to others, he still needs time to decide.
In many cases, friends have a very strong influence over an individual’s decisions throughout life. Building life around their connections, people become open to influences from their circles.
This is why social media is a big influence when it comes to purchasing decisions.
When it comes to friends and the influence they have over one another, you could actually turn things around in your favor. For this, you’ll need to have a superior product than your competitors and be good at marketing.
Start by deciding not to worry about the influence your prospect’s friends could have over him.
Dig deeper to understand your prospect then speak to not only his pain points but also his desires. With a good marketing message, you can win your prospect and have him influence his friends to shift to your camp.
Obviously, the internet is not a person. But the people on the internet—even strangers—have a lot of influence on your prospect. You can understand this when you consider what happens when influencers and brand ambassadors speak well of a product or service.
Many people want to be associated with or look like or live like the celebrities and influencers they follow on social media. As such, these people can determine what your prospect thinks about your solution.
Another area of influence on the internet is the online review website which your target audience gathers information from. From news to trending topics, more and more people are turning to the internet.
Just as online review sites are important when identifying your target audience’s pain points, they also influence purchasing decisions.
Make sure you monitor social channels for any mention of your solution or brand in general. You can also set Google alerts so as to be notified whenever your brand and solution are mentioned in a web publication.
Identifying the Influencers in a B2B Sales Process
The sales process in the B2B environment can be very complicated. This is because buying involves more than one person and they all have different influences over the final decision.
When selling to a B2B client, having a manager as a lead doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the final decision maker. You could get to a point in the sales cycle and be required to engage with someone else.
In the B2B sales process, there are at least seven people you need to be aware of if you’re to make a successful sale. If you want repeat sales and referrals, how you work with these people becomes even more important.
The gatekeeper is the person who works in close proximity with the decision-maker but doesn’t directly influence the decisions made.
Once you’ve identified a B2B prospect, the gatekeeper will most likely be your first point of contact. This might be an assistant or even a secretary whose role is to help the person above them with smaller tasks or decisions.
For this reason, the gatekeeper can actually give you lots of information about the decision maker’s pain points. He can also help you know how best to approach and convince him.
The influencer is someone with a junior role who looks at various options and screens them for problems before giving recommendations to the decision maker.
Although they don’t have the final say, their opinions and expertise are respected and thus carry a lot of weight.
With a direct relationship with stakeholders, an influencer is an important ally to have.
As you build your relationship with them, show them that you respect their expertise. Answer all their questions and show them the superiority of your offering. This will help them see the suitability of your solution.
As long as you have a good relationship and market your product well, you can expect them to recommend your product.
The champion is probably the one person you’ll mostly credit with your success. Whereas he doesn’t make the decision to buy, the amount of help he provides you with is critical.
Apart from knowing how things work in the organization and having some connection with the key decision makers, he will actively work towards your success by sharing information which you need to influence decisions.
This person will even speak well of your product to colleagues and convince them that it’s what they need.
Considering the help a champion offers, you need to embrace him as a friend and team member. Give the information he needs to convince colleagues and decision makers. Share charts with him and if necessary, draft email communication for him.
Whatever you do, empower him to get you the deal.
The self-proclaimed decision maker
You need to quickly identify the self-proclaimed decision maker and keep him in check.
As you might know, real decision makers rarely announce themselves. You don’t even get to meet them easily in many cases—the very reason why you need to know who is who.
You’ll easily identify the self-proclaimed decision maker when you hear him brag about his proximity to the CEO or even board chairperson. Don’t be surprised if he even shares with you how much influence he wields in the company.
This person will tell you a lot about what the company needs. If you’ve already developed a good relationship with other influencing figures, look for a way of verifying what this person tells you before believing and using it.
This is the one person you want to avoid at all costs. As the name suggests, the blocker will actually work against your interests. Whereas you’re trying to close a sale, he’ll be trying to work against it.
Blockers are people with some level of influence in the company and they can therefore do you a lot of harm.
Blockers can also be a competitor’s champion. In such a case, when they engage with you, they’ll actually be either wasting your time or even misleading you.
You can identify a blocker by their habit of going cold on you. You’ve built a relationship and all seems to be going well then suddenly they stop responding to your emails or returning calls.
If a contact was initially helpful then suddenly starts ignoring you, move on quickly before you lose the lead.
The decision maker
If all is going well and there is a genuine need for your offering in the company, you’ll soon meet the decision maker. At this point, your solution will most likely have won the hearts of some key influencers within the organization.
With the decision-maker often being the one giving the nod or signing the check, the research done by those under him is often enough to convince him. He may however require a presentation for you to address the concerns of the C-level executives.
The people involved in the decision making process aren’t always the ones who will use the solution you’re offering. And if they do, probably someone else will be using it even more.
The user of your offering is someone you can’t afford to ignore just because you closed the deal. This person needs your support so as to embrace the solution and love it.
You need user adoption and positive reviews so as to get social proof for your solution.
This will come in handy when marketing to other prospects. In fact, if one customer loves your product, word-of-mouth marketing can lead to more prospects who will be easier to sell to.
6. What Marketing Channel Preference Does Your Audience Have?
The purpose of defining your target audience is to help you know who you’re going to sell to and how to sell to them.
That’s why the most effective marketing strategies are anchored on a good understanding of your target audience.
Whereas marketing has many aspects to it and largely depends on the message you send out, where you publish that message also matters. You may have the right message, a copy that can truly convert, but if the message is on the wrong platform, how will your target audience get it?
Part of knowing your target audience is knowing the marketing channels you can use to reach them. You’ll know this by finding out where they spend their time.
Whether it’s looking for news, getting updated on trending topics or just networking, where they spend their time is where you need to share your message.
Let’s look at some of the marketing channels you can use to reach and connect with your target audience.
Your website is your most prized real estate on the internet. This is your online HQ and the earlier you start treating it as such, the better.
If your business runs entirely on the internet, you probably know that your website is your biggest asset. If you’re working on transitioning from your physical store to an online one or just looking to net more customers through an online presence, then give your website more attention.
Website design is all about the likability, accessibility and usability of your site. SEO on the other hand is about making your site visible to as many prospects as possible and ranking it high on search engines.
While designing your site isn’t very difficult if you have the skills or hire a skilled freelancer, SEO is a bit more complex.
Still, there’s an easy way to get started. Just get your keywords right and use them well and you’ll be on your way to success in no time.
To get your keywords right, don’t engage in guesswork. Yes you know what your target audience is looking for but how do you know which keywords are better than others?
To nail your keyword research, look no further than SEMrush. This search engine marketing tool comes with over 40 advanced tools to help you reach your audience effectively.
Do you need a blog?
These bloggers are just normal people who discovered money-making opportunities on the internet, picked the right blog niche and got to work.
So, do you need a blog?
If you’re to prove your expertise in your niche, then yes, you need a blog. And because you can’t effectively sell to your target audience without helping them trust you as an expert, you definitely need a blog.
Different from a regular website, your blog is where you publish informative and helpful information to show your expertise in the niche you’re operating in.
The content aside, building a blog that attracts and retains your audience needs a lot of work. Things can get pretty technical here and understanding everything can be expensive.
One of the solutions SEMrush offers is one that audits your site/blog by scanning it for over 130 technical and SEO issues and gives you a report that helps you deal with what needs to be sorted.
It even prioritizes the issues so you can focus your efforts on the most critical issues first.
With such a solution, getting search engine crawlers to love your site/blog becomes easy. You deal with the most urgent issues first then get to the rest in due time.
There’s an ongoing debate on the effectiveness of email marketing in the 21st generation. Many marketers out there believe that email marketing is dead. They say that it’s old-fashioned and isn’t advancing with technology.
But research indicates that email marketing is not only effective but is actually the best marketing channel. Contrary to popular belief, people are still reading emails. And since they willingly subscribed to your email list, they’re more likely to become paying customers.
Email marketing stands out for its overall value. Your email subscribers have actually opened up to you to receive marketing information from you. They’ve decided that communication about your brand and offerings is valuable. They open your emails and read through them.
To enjoy such a wide reach and high click-through rates, you can’t use the traditional email program. Even if it allows you to send multiple emails at once, it’s not fit for the job. There’s so much it can’t do and using it will keep you walking when your competitors are flying.
To effectively reach your target audience and engage them with visually-attractive emails which prompt them to spread the word, you have to use specialized email marketing tools.
These don’t just enable you to send emails but come with lots of powerful features to help you maximize on the opportunities.
Our top recommendation is ConvertKit. This tool does many things including helping you create landing pages to help you collect email addresses. But that’s not even the best feature it has.
One of our favorite features is its ability to analyze your blog visitors’ browsing and send them the right email based on what they’re interested in. Sending relevant emails to your audience is key to successful lead nurturing and eventually increasing your conversion rates.
A good alternative to ConvertKit is Constant Contact. Constant Contact automates your email marketing, resends emails to non-openers and also helps you with social marketing.
Podcasting is growing fast.
Initially, podcasts were mostly an entertainment channel but they’re now becoming a marketing tool worth utilizing.
Obviously, you have to be sure your target audience is listening to podcasts before investing in it.
Podcasts come in many styles. They talk about different topics, some are short, others long and more importantly, implement different monetization strategies.
For many, advertising and sponsorships are the main revenue channels. Others sell merchandise while many others are capitalizing on donations. It’s also possible to utilize several revenue channels for the same podcast.
The most popular way through which brands reach the prospects who listen to podcasts is through advertising. Whether simple advertising or sponsoring the whole show, your best bet is in working with the podcaster who operates in your niche.
In case you haven’t considered podcasts as a marketing channel, consider how much brands spent on podcast ads in June 2020.
There is an alternative to spending huge sums on podcast ads.
You can opt to start your own podcast. This requires some initial spending though it doesn’t have to be a lot. Read our podcasting guide to learn how you can get started and where to host your podcast.
Marketing will not be marketing if it doesn’t include social media. Virtually everyone is on social media and you have to use these platforms to reach and engage with your target audience.
The trick here is knowing what social media platforms your target audience uses. You can know this by checking the demographics of social media platforms against your buyer persona.
Every platform works differently and you’ll have to know how best to reach your customers on those platforms.
The allure of social media marketing comes from the number of people using it.
Take for instance Facebook. With over 2.4 billion monthly active users, can marketers really ignore the possibility of reaching such a huge mass of prospects?
If you consider the whole user base of Facebook, you’ll realize that the group is diverse. As such, Facebook marketing can be tricky. You can’t create one message and expect it to resonate with both 30 and 60-year-old prospects.
You might need to use Facebook advertising to target different age groups with content created specifically for them.
If on the other hand your target audience is made up of younger prospects, then Instagram will automatically be your social media platform of choice. You can learn how to effectively reach and convert prospects on Instagram from our article on Instagram marketing.
Marketers have been pouring money and resources into their social media marketing efforts and they’re going to do more of that. The world is converging around the internet and as businesses follow their prospects on social media, spending can only go up.
How much you spend will be determined by your marketing budget. But before committing to advertising expenses, make sure the platform you’re targeting is where your target audience really engages on.
YouTube is a big service that can be rightly called a social media platform. YouTube however also operates as a search engine.
With a system built specifically for video sharing, there are 500 hours of video being uploaded every minute, meaning up to 720,000 hours of video uploaded every day.
With video content growing in demand, you’ll be losing out if you don’t include video in your marketing strategy. If you’re looking for some real marketing results, try using video.
Videos have been shown to have very high engagement and conversion rates. These are the things every marketer looks for.
When marketing through video, take note of the appropriate length. You don’t want to create a long video which very few people will watch then get wasted on the time and effort you put in.
The beauty of video content is that you can use the same video you published on YouTube on other social media platforms as well as your own blog.
Ensure your videos are of high quality and that the content is not only informative but also enjoyable and touching on emotions. Emotions are what move people to take action.
Advancements in technology come with many ways of making life easier. This convenience isn’t only for consumers but also for those targeting the consumers.
One marketing channel that is currently growing fast is webinars. Webinars have been embraced not only because of their flexibility but for the great opportunities they offer.
Webinars offer something more than the traditional video content. The “live” aspect of the video, chat, Q&A sessions, handouts and polls are what make webinars great for marketing.
Never before have marketers had an opportunity to interact with their prospects in such a way as enabled by webinars.
This means only one thing: webinars guarantee results.
And since there is no need for your target audience to have any special tools to attend the online events, attracting attendees isn’t that difficult.
Considering the many webinar software solutions available, Webinars are very easy to organize and run. With a tool like WebinarJam which enables you to even host a roundtable of 6 experts and reach up to 5,000 prospects, there’s so much you can achieve.
To make it easier for those you’re targeting to attend your virtual events, you can use Demio.
With Demio, your attendees don’t even have to install any software. Just share the link to them and they’ll be able to join the event to enjoy your content and engage with you.
Do people still watch TV?
Depending on who you often interact with, you might think that TV isn’t useful for marketing. But that isn’t the case.
TV is definitely an old marketing channel but there are people who watch it diligently. In fact, unless they see something on TV, they might never believe it.
Who are these people?
These numbers should remind you of the importance of nailing your target audience. If you’re targeting baby boomers with your solution, you have to include TV in your marketing strategy.
Keeping in mind the audience you’re targeting, ensure your message resonates with their communication style. Keep the message simple, clearly point out the pain points your offering solves and make it easy for them to identify the action you want them to take.
- 7. Estimate Your TAM, SAM and SOM for Your Business Plan and Marketing Plan
As part of your preparations to start your business, you’ll need to do some math on the profitability of your industry. This is important so as to give you an idea of how much your business can grow.
If your business is already running, such an exercise can still be beneficial. But when you’re looking to attract some investors and get funding, this becomes a must.
There are three values you can calculate to know the size of the market you’re targeting and see how much of that you can actually capture.
Let’s look at these and show you, using random figures, how you can calculate your potential market size. Note that these example calculations are simplified just for illustration purposes.
Total Addressable Market (TAM)
The Total Addressable Market (TAM), also known as Total Available Market, is the whole revenue opportunity that is available for your business if you have 100% market share. You can also look at it as the overall revenue generation potential of your offering.
To calculate TAM, you’ll need data on the market size, competition, expected growth as well as the value of the investment you’re seeking.
TAM will also factor in the customer segments which are yet to be tapped. This gives an investor an idea of the actual size of the available market in relation to the prevailing competition.
Calculating TAM requires analyzing a large population size which is part of your target market and then narrowing down to a market segment. Such information is typically sourced from documents like census reports and other relevant industry reports.
Once you have the population data, you use elimination to narrow down to your target audience. From here, use your potential target market size to see how much potential revenue your business can achieve within a given period.
Example calculation of TAM
Say you’re developing a mobile app to help athletes exercise more effectively and never miss training. Based on sports industry reports, there are 20,000 athletes in your city and 45% of them experience challenges training as often and effectively as required.
From this, your exercise app has the potential of netting 9,000 athletes. These are your potential customers.
Since exercising and regular training is key to an athlete’s success, 30% of those who don’t train often and effectively have come up with home-based solutions while 10% of the remaining ones don’t own a smartphone.
That leaves you with 60% of the original number as potential customers. 60% of 9,000 gives you 5,400 athletes. If you can sell your app to these 5,400 athletes at a subscription fee of $20 per year, your estimated TAM comes to $108,000.
Serviceable Available Market (SAM)
The Serviceable Available Market is a subset of the total market that’s available for your business to tap into. SAM narrows down your focus and tells you the size of the market you can more realistically reach.
It’s obvious that having a big market available doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll reach and capture it.
For that reason, SAM refers to the part of the total market which you’re targeting through your products or services. Since you’re segmenting the market as well as customer groups, your SAM will also refer to the market segment which your business can deliver the best value.
Example estimation of SAM
If you’re to open a hotel in Houston, a city with many other restaurants and an estimated population of over 2.3 million, it’s unlikely that the whole of that population will be your customers.
Whereas the whole population and the hotel industry in Texas will form your total market, it’s the Houston population that is more likely to visit your hotel.
Your SAM will therefore be a portion of the total hotel market in Texas. This portion will be determined by the available market size of the hotel industry in Houston.
So, let’s say that the hotel market in Texas is $4 billion and that of Houston is $900 million. According to industry reports and your own analysis, you estimate that you can reach at least 7% of this market.
From these numbers, you can estimate your SAM to be $63 million.
Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM)
SOM is the estimated portion of the market which you’re most likely to capture. It refers to the revenues you can expect within a specific product or service segment.
The Serviceable Obtainable Market is actually the most realistic measure of a company’s potential success. SOM factors in everything from the product demand in the area of operation to the company’s capabilities, e.g. budget, which can hinder it from reaching much of the available market.
Determining your SOM will include factoring in the market size your product can capture within the area it’s sold. You’ll also need to consider your company’s past performance if your business has been in operation for a while.
Example estimation of SOM
A US car manufacturer has been thinking of venturing into the hatchback market. For some months, they have carried out research on the hatchback market and found that the total market of hatchbacks in the US is $12 billion.
Since the manufacturer is based in Denver, the market in Denver is worth $1.2 billion.
This company has been manufacturing trucks and so has no historical performance records to use to gauge their capabilities. But going by the research findings and competitive research, they believe they can launch their first hatchback in 4 months, sell at least 2,000 of them by the end of their financial year and capture 35% of the Denver market.
From these numbers, this manufacturer’s SOM would be $420 million ($1.2 billion x 35% market share).
Target Market and Target Audience FAQ
Defining your target market and audience can take time. Many marketers ask different questions depending on what stage of the process they feel stuck at.
Here are some quick answers to common questions asked about target markets and audiences.
A target audience is a group of customers you intend to sell your product or service to. They are a part of a wider group of prospects referred to as a target market that you can potentially sell to.
A target audience gives you the opportunity to laser-focus your business plans and marketing strategy so as to keep costs down and increase conversions. This leads to higher profits and with higher profits, your business will see faster growth.
To identify your target audience, you need to study the market in order to find out what the market is looking for. Whatever the market is looking for points you to the problems the market needs to be solved. These are called pain points.
Pain points aside, you need to be sure that your target audience can buy the solution you’re creating for them. That means finding out whether they have the budget to buy your offering as well as the willingness to make the purchase. If they have the money and are willing to buy your solution, that’s a perfect audience to target.
Understanding your target market and target audience is key if your business is to succeed. Your business needs to make money in order to remain relevant and to make money, you need to know who you’re going to sell your products to.
Targeting the whole world or just anyone doesn’t work because people buy the things which they either need or desire. If you target someone who doesn’t need or desire your product, will he buy? With such a situation in your hands, you’ll lose the money you invested in starting the business.
On the other hand, understanding your target audience well enough helps you with especially two things: creating a product they need or desire and knowing how exactly to sell to them.
Reaching your target audience is easy once you know them and their social habits. Since different people hang out in different areas, a careful study of your target audience will reveal which platforms they hang out on and how they take in information.
With this information, you’ll then know where to find them, how to build your relationship with them and most importantly, how to effectively communicate with them using the available tools offered by each platform.
To successfully sell to your target audience, you need to speak to their specific pain points. Not only that, you need to address those pain points from an emotional perspective.
Since pain points touch on emotions and people are looking for ways to avoid pain, show them how your product will remove the pain and give them joy, peace, freedom or whatever you know they’re looking for.
Ready to Target Your Audience With Hyper-Relevant Marketing Messages?
Succeeding in business won’t be such a big challenge when you understand who you’re targeting as your customer.
Taking time to research your target audience will save you a lot of stress and money down the road as you’ll be able to direct your marketing efforts to the right people and create solutions that fit the market needs.
And the good thing is that defining your target audience isn’t restricted to those yet to start their businesses. In fact, if your business is up and running, your customer research will be easier given that you already have data to work with.
So cheer up. Get your team together and conduct your customer research. Come up with a detailed buyer persona, identify your target audience’s pain points, their willingness to buy your solution, create it then sell it to them.
As long as you have the problem and solution right, and ensure that your customers have an enjoyable experience with your brand, you can guarantee that you’ll see loyalty and referrals.
And the more customers you have, the more data you have to help you stay ahead of both your customers’ needs and the competition.