Before you craft a messaging strategy, you have to know who you’re talking to. This is why defining your target audience(s) is a crucial first step to every marketing plan. Once the audience is defined, you can better define your message strategy and the avenues used to reach these individuals – based specifically on their preferences and behaviors. Following this approach leads you to the highest likelihood of success.
Step 1: Define your Target Audience(s)
Ok, I know you’re thinking “everyone is a potential customer,” and in some cases it may even be true. However, your marketing strategy needs to be tailored to the specific individuals you’re talking to, otherwise, you could end up wasting valuable time, energy, and resources trying to craft a message that reaches and appeals to everyone – or is so generic, no one.
Identifying your target audience(s) begins with asking “who is the product/service intended for?” and “who is qualified to purchase the product/service?”. Answering these two questions helps define whose needs you’re meeting, and the decision maker qualified to make the purchase–and they’re not always the same person.
Once you have answered these questions, define your target audience(s) using demographic information and broad characteristics such as age, gender, education level, location, etc.
- College-aged individuals, located within a 15-mile radius of a store location.
- Individuals aged 25 – 34, who are college educated, living within a particular residential area.
- Moms of children ages 0 – 5, who shop online.
Step 2: Get Specific with Personas
Once you have a broad definition of your target audience, you can narrow this further by identifying key interests or attributes that your core target audience has in common. Personas include more detailed characteristics such as lifestyle, interests, hobbies, engagement in social media, etc. These personal attributes give you better insight to how your target audience members spend their time and where they get their information, which is a crucial component in defining how you’re going to reach them.
Write out very specific buyer profiles that reflect your ideal customers based on the information you have gathered. These are meant to be fictional characters that essentially help you put a face with a name. You likely know people similar to these characters and this research will help you identify how these individuals think and what influences their purchasing decisions. Consider your best customers, they could be a good baseline.
Remember the target audiences defined in step 1? Here are their more specific buyer personas:
- Sara is a 20-year-old college student originally from Peoria, Illinois, studying Digital Media Design at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida. She is a member of a sorority and works part time at a nearby retail shop. Being from a cold weather climate, Sara loves the newfound ability to enjoy the outdoors year-round spending time at the beach and participating in outdoor activities. Sara cares about aesthetic and design, and spends time perfecting her Instagram grid. She uses social media to get her news and keeps in touch with her friends and family through Snap Chat and Facebook Messenger. Sara uses online reviews as well as recommendations from friends and family members to make purchasing decisions.
- Steve is a 29-year-old REALTOR® living in Bonita Springs, Florida. He has a degree in hospitality from a local college, but recently earned his real estate license to capitalize on the booming industry in Southwest Florida. Steve loves being able to create his own schedule and dictating his income based on effort. He is very active on Facebook and LinkedIn, using both platforms to share new listings, network with potential buyers, and stay up to date on the latest news. Email is an important communication tool for him to set appointments and keep in touch with potential buyer. He also values receiving news and communications to his inbox.
- Christina is a 32-year-old stay at home mom of two children ages 1 and 3. She spends her days engaging her children in educational activities and plans to homeschool them when the time comes. During her limited down time, Christina likes to indulge in escapist reality TV shows. With her kids keeping her home most of the time, Christina does the majority of her shopping online and gets the latest news and updates from her Facebook feed.
Not sure what your audience(s) prefers? If you have their contact information, you can always ask them! Most people enjoy sharing their opinion. Consider a free digital survey to learn more about their preferences, straight from them.
Step 3: Use this Information to Customize your Communication Strategies
Once you have a solid understanding of who you’re talking to and how they prefer to communicate and/or gather information, you are able to build more thoughtful strategies on how to reach them. It’s important to meet your target audience where they are and get your message in front of them, rather than waiting for them to come to you. If email is the preferred method of communication for one segment of your audience, consider a newsletter for them. If social media hits the mark for the other, then employ strategic efforts on their preferred channel(s) such as Facebook, Instagram, etc. just for that audience.
Beyond where your message is meeting its audience, it’s just as important to customize that message to the specific persona. By focusing on what your audience is passionate about and using language that they can connect with, your message will be more memorable and resonate with your audience.
The more research you can gather, the better your communication efforts will be. In addition to the initial research done before building your strategy, it’s important to continuously monitor and analyze performance of efforts to determine what is and isn’t working. Monitor where your leads are coming from, keep an eye on your social media insights, and review your website’s performance and where traffic is coming from for a start.
Don’t know where to start? Feel overwhelmed? The PTE team has years of experience defining target audiences, creating and implementing thoughtful strategies, and testing our efforts for refinement. For more information on how we can help you reach and resonate with your potential customers, contact us.