Buyer Persona: Stop Guessing, How to Determine Your Target Audience
As marketing professionals, we see it time and time again: businesses of all sizes – from large corporations to small companies, and everything in between – are communicating the wrong message to the wrong audience. And as a result, these businesses are missing a major opportunity to establish a real connection with their ideal patrons.
Recently, we worked with a client that had unknowingly missed the mark when trying to determine its target audience. This client is a financial services firm with a really strong brand and a reputation in the marketplace as an authoritative figure within the financial industry. They are successful, managing nearly $1 billion in assets. And yet, after conducting extensive interviews with customers and internal stakeholders, we found that their message – which focused on educating their prospects, on a high level, to demonstrate their expertise in the field – was simply too complex. Although their audience was quite educated overall, they were not particularly knowledgeable in the world of financial planning, and the firm’s messaging strategy was going right over their audience’s heads.
In this particular case, our client was successful in finding its target audience (they knew the basics of who they were trying to reach); but they were not successful in communicating directly with their audience’s pain points, and their point of sales entry was off (they didn’t know how or when to engage them). So while the firm was convinced that most of its clientele were entering into retirement and ready to move money and plan for the longer term, we found that their customers actually came to them earlier in life – during a major job move or other life change, such as children leaving the home, particularly after college was paid for. These people looked at their major financial goals seriously and certainly had retirement within their sights; so the firm was saying some of the right things in its marketing approach. But it still needed help with all of the fine details that come along with figuring out how to determine a target market and that market’s point of interest in our client’s services.
As it turns out, our client hasn’t always been doing it wrong. Their business and their ideal prospects just changed over time, which is a natural occurrence for many companies. Because of these inherent shifts, we recommend doing a deep dive check-in every 12 to 18 months to ensure you still truly understand your audience and their wants, needs and points of entry. It’s critical that you recognize when or why they start seeking your products or services, as well as what they’re thinking when they do.
So, how to determine that target audience? Follow these steps:
- Look at your current customer base. Identify who they are and what they come to you for.
- Check out your competition. Survey the current landscape of your industry and identify who your competitors are targeting, who they’re successfully converting into customers, and who they may be overlooking.
- Analyze your product or service. Compile a list of your products or services, the benefits of each, and who would profit from those benefits.
- Identify which demographics to target. Who has a need for your product or service, and who is most likely to buy it? What is their age, gender, income level? Where do they live? Other demographics to consider: education level, marital or family status, occupation, and ethnic background.
- Identify which psychographics to target. What are some of the more inherent traits that define your customers’ lifestyles? What are their personalities, attitudes, values, interests, hobbies?
With all of these factors in play, you should have a pretty good idea of who your ideal customer is and why they would choose you. You don’t necessarily have to rely on your own assumptions, however. You may also consider setting up interviews with current customers and employees to gain their input firsthand. Ask them why they chose you over the competition; what led them to seek out your product or service; what you do well; and what you could be doing better. Then once you’ve determined the particulars of who your clients actually are and what they need from you, the most important next step is making sure your marketing message is communicated in a way that will resonate with them.
For help determining your target audience, contact Paradigm Marketing & Design today for a consultation.