Who’s buying your products or services? What’s your target demographic?

If you can’t answer these questions, you’ll have trouble running a successful business. Look at the biggest names in any industry. One thing that they often have in common is their ability to connect with their target audience. Profitable businesses and entrepreneurs know who they’re selling to and what these customers want. This begins with a little market research. You need to identify your ideal customer – and the following steps will help. Let’s get started…

#1 – Determine True Value of Your Product or Service

The first step is to fully understand your products. You need to separate the real value from the perceived value.

Think about your product from the customer’s perspective. List the uses of your product, along with any problems that it can help solve. These are the real benefits. Also, forget the universal benefits. This includes benefits that people can get from any company. Instead, focus on the unique advantages that you provide over your competition.

#2 – Identify Your Existing Customers

If you’ve already launched your business, examine your existing customer base. This helps you begin your customer research.

Determine how you’re reaching these customers. Looking at website analytics, you can see how these customers are reaching your site or online offers. You can determine which regions they live in, which sites they frequent, and other key metrics. You can also use existing customer feedback to better pinpoint their interests and needs. Read any online reviews of your products or services on Google, Yelp, and other review sites.

Another option is to use surveys to gain customer feedback. Not only can you learn more about the behavior of your customers, you can find learn more about your products, the quality of customer service, and overall satisfaction.

#3 – Examine Your Competition

For those that don’t have existing customers, you can still learn a lot by looking at your competition. Learn more about their existing customers.

You can achieve this by visiting the social media profiles of your competition. Look at the content that they produce and the comments that customers leave. Look at reviews of your competition. See what people say about their products. These comments may help you find additional examples of benefits that set your product apart from your competitors.

#4 – Begin Identifying Specific Demographics

Using the information that you uncover by reviewing your existing customers and your competitor’s customers, you can start focusing on specific demographics.

For example, who is most likely to purchase your product? A millennial or a baby boomer? Are they likely to be male or female? Again, you can discover these details by reading reviews, feedback, and online customer comments – from your own products or your competition’s. Some of the demographics that you should use to help identify your target customers include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Income
  • Occupation
  • Marital status

While you don’t need to narrow your focus in every demographic, these details can help paint a better picture of your average customer.

#5 – Consider Psychological Factors

Along with the demographics listed above, you should consider the individual characteristics of your ideal customer. This covers the psychological factors that influence their desire to purchase your product, such as:

  • Interests and hobbies
  • Lifestyle
  • Personality
  • Personal values

As with the demographics, you can read comments to learn about these psychological factors. Use any information that you have available. Scroll through your competitor’s Facebook timeline. Or, perform a search for reviews.

#6 – Create a Customer Persona

Now, use the details from the previous steps to create a customer persona. Essentially, you’re creating a description of one target customer. This is your average customer. Give this customer a name. List their gender and where they live. Write down their job, income, and education level. Then, write down some of their interests and personal values.

As you begin marketing or advertising your products, imagine that you’re writing for this specific persona. Instead of targeting a large group of people, you’re talking directly to this person. Narrowing your focus on a single person limits the reach of your marketing. But, your content becomes more effective, compelling, and engaging.

Continue Revising Your Personas

Identifying your ideal customer is an ongoing process. Your target audience isn’t set in stone. When you increase your customer base and get more feedback, you’ll learn even more about your customers. You may find that the age or gender of your average customer was off. When this occurs, revise your customer persona. You can also begin creating multiple customer personas. Every new ad or marketing campaign will focus on a specific persona. While you’re targeting one small group with each ad, you can easily create multiple ads, with each ad targeting a different persona.

Use these steps as a starting point and keep striving to learn more about the needs of your customers. And, the best way to learn more about your customers is to truly listen to their comments.

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