Who is your customer?
Many companies have trouble with this question. “We make lotion,” they might think, “so our customer is anyone with skin — in other words, everybody!”
Look at the four lotions shown in the photo below. All of them are designed for people with skin, and they may have similar ingredients and effects. But the brands are clearly designed to appeal to different groups of people.
Now, look at the potential customer below:
Which product is going to appeal to him most, of those four products?
This is an easy example. Chances are good that your answer to that question is the same as mine. Your company’s products may not be as clearly defined, or you might prefer to think that you can be all things to all people. But there are real advantages to identifying your target customer just as well as the products in the photo above, and in defining your brand just as well.
Digital marketing options allow you to focus your message and get it in front of the right people. You can specify that you want your ad to be shown to people in specific places, with specific demographics and interests, and pay only to reach those people. You can create content that will show up when your target market looks for your goods and services.
A digital marketing campaign for each of the products above — whether it’s inbound marketing or paid search ads — would look completely different.
So how can you identify your target market?
Did you have someone in mind when you developed your product? Was there a persona provided to the product developer, or did you create the product or service in order to solve a product you identified? If so, you know who your target market is, and narrowing your focus to reach that target customers may be just a matter of admitting that your “Working Hands Hand Cream… for dry hands that crack and split” really isn’t going to appeal to the upscale beauty product buyer, even if it would be good for her skin.
If it’s not as clear, then it’s time to do some research. Here are some sources of information about who is buying your goods and services:
- Google Analytics can give you a lot of information about your visitors, from location to demographics, and you can learn a lot about your visitors’ behavior in each segment. This is such an accessible source of data that it should probably be your first step.
- Market research is much more accessible and affordable than it used to be. Where conducting market research was once affordable only for the largest companies, you can probably now find reports on your industry for free or at a low cost online. There are also online tools that allow you to conduct your own market research more affordably than ever.
- Adwords allows you to run experiments and tests with different target markets and see how they respond to your brand with great precision. Starting with some tests allows you to fine-tune your advertising and get to a higher ROI faster.
- If you haven’t yet developed a persona for your brand, use the data you’ve collected, plus the insights you’ve gained from experience, to create a complete picture of your ideal customer and start with him or her. Flesh out the persona as completely as possible.
Once you know who you want to reach, it’s easier and more effective to develop a strategy to reach them.