Before making any promise, you need to know who you’re making it to.
The most consistent blindspot we encounter when working with businesses is their target audience. A surprising number of businesses have never thought about their intended customer; those that have don’t often get it right.
The biggest mistake companies make when identifying their target audience is looking at who they wish wanted their product instead of who actually does want it. Sometimes we all dream of running a company or building a product that everyone wants, but the truth is that most products and services are niche items.
Finding your niche is the key to unlocking sustainable, scalable business success. You should start small, focused on one type of customer, then slowly expand to multiple audiences as your business grows.
How to find your target audience
Identify the Problem
Your target audience are the people who already want what you’re offering, the people who have a problem you’re ready to solve. They’re aware of their problem, ready to have it fixed, and in a position where they can commit to getting it done.
Understand their need
Here are the sorts of questions you should ask to identify your niche:
- What is my business best at?
- Why would someone come to us rather than a competitor?
- What would go wrong for people if they couldn’t access our services?
Your unique solution
Your business won’t always be the only possible solution for a problem, but you need to find your unique selling point. Are you the cheapest? The highest quality? The easiest to access, the most trustworthy, or the friendliest? Whatever features stand out, those are the features that your target audience needs to be looking for.
It’s exciting to find your business’ niche. But don’t get ahead of yourself: the biggest risk is that you stop too early.
devil solution is in the details.
Defining Your Audience
There’s no point in offering a steak to a room of hungry vegetarians, and your business can’t succeed without a full picture of your target audience. You need to develop a detailed picture of their lifestyle so you can meet them where they are.
Details to identify
Here are some core things to consider:
- Location: Is your product more suited for urban dwellers or rural folks? Does it cater to a global audience, or is it region-specific?
- Age: Does your product appeal to children, teenagers, young adults, middle-aged folks, or the elderly?
- Interests: What hobbies or activities might correlate with a preference for your product or service?
- Income: What is the financial standing of your perfect customer? How much are they willing to shell out for a product or service like yours?
- Needs or Struggles: Lastly, and perhaps most important, what problem does your product or service solve? What struggle or pain point does it solve for your customers?
Refine your audience
One you’ve defined your target audience, imagine a situation where you encounter a person with those features. Does it fit? Are they excited to hear about your business and ready to sign up, make a purchase, or get involved? Are you comfortable you can give them what they want?
Refine your target audience’s details. Add more information, more qualifiers, more needs and hopes and struggles. Keep going. Only stop when there’s no more exclusions you can make, no more people who will be on the fence about what you’re offering.
Bonus: create Audience Personas to get hyper-specific.
Example: A Tale of Two Audiences
Let’s imagine a business that serves rideshare drivers (for apps like Uber or Lyft). This business helps rideshare drivers to find and purchase vehicles for their work.
There are two possible ways to define their target audience: one is a bit too wide, and the other is just perfect.
The first definition could look something like this: “Rideshare drivers who want a newer car.” Seems okay at first glance, but it’s too broad, applicable to too many people – it doesn’t really help the business understand who their customer is and how to reach them.
Now let’s refine it. “Full-time rideshare drivers in Auckland, between the ages of 25-40, with an annual income range between $75,000 and $90,000, currently using a vehicle over 5 years old and eager to upgrade to optimize their services.”
It’s the details in this second example that really make it valuable. Not only does it cover who they are, but it also clues us into what problems they face – namely, they are full-time drivers stuck with an old, likely unreliable car. They have a decent income to finance a new vehicle, but perhaps they’re unsure how to choose the ideal one. Our hypothetical business now knows that this person is ready to hear from them.
Three steps to find your audience
So, here’s how find the perfect target audience for your business:
- Find the people with a problem you’re ready to solve.
- Define them clearly.
- Refine that definition.
The work is worth it
Identifying and defining your target audience might seem like looking for a needle in a haystack at first – but with a little persistence and guidance, it’s more than achievable. The payoff is a business that so perfectly meets its customers’ needs that they can’t help but return again and again.
Reach out to your audience
Now that you understand who your audience is, how are you going to reach out to them? How will they know that you’re the answer to their problems?
That’s where your brand comes in. Check out our post on making your audience’s dreams come true for more.