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Identify and Understand Your Target Audience

Knowing your target audience is a key step in building a brand. A clear audience profile will enable you to define your business’s mission and vision in a way that speaks directly to potential customers. Plus, it will help you to craft online content that surprises, delights, and engages all the right people, too.

Define your target audience

Simply put, your target audience is the group of people who are most likely to want your products or services. When you’re building a brand, your strategy should focus on engaging and influencing members of your target audience.

Your target audience will be defined by a set of common traits—like where they shop, how old they are, where they live, and what social media platforms they like to use. The more comprehensive your understanding of those traits, the better the position you’ll be in to build a brand that connects with them.

To identify your audience’s traits, start by doing audience research. If you’ve already launched your website and have a customer base, use website analytics to learn about the people visiting your site and purchasing your products or services. You can leverage social media interactions, sales records, and any other profiling you may have engaged in via methods like email marketing surveys and online questionnaires. If you’re still building your website, look for businesses similar to yours and find anecdotal research using social media. 

You can also carry out independent market research via focus groups, opinion polls, and interviews to find out what people think of your brand in comparison to your competitors.

What should be in an audience profile?

When it’s done right, target audience data should give you an easy-to-understand view of who your buyer persona is and what will convince them to buy from you.

Divide your audience research into these categories:

Demographics — Statistical data relating to your audience’s gender, age, location, annual income, language, marital status, and more.

Interests — Understanding which other brands your audience interacts with tells you a lot about their tastes. This will help you to shape your brand identity, both tonally and visually.

Social media preferences Knowing where your audience hangs out online means you can start hanging out in the same spaces, posting content there to drive traffic to your website.

Buying behavior — Whether your target customers are impulse buyers or people who spend lots of time researching brands, shape your messaging to meet their buying style.

Spending power — How much disposable income does your audience have? This will help you decide whether to position your business as a luxury, budget, or everyday brand.

Frustrations — Study your customers’ pain points, especially what’s not working for their current buying habits. Then ask how your brand can solve their problems. 

Barriers to purchase — If your audience isn’t buying from you right now, find out why. Understanding this enables you to find the “now easier than ever” pitch to overcome that barrier.

Preferred types of content — Is your audience most likely to engage with blog articles? Podcasts? Videos? Targeted content is key to converting your website visitors into loyal customers.

Tone of voice Establish a brand tone of voice that reflects how your audience communicates and encourages them to form an emotional connection with your brand. This helps to turn passive audiences into brand loyalists.

Segmenting your target audience

Identifying subgroups within your target audience is what’s known as segmentation. When you segment your audiences, you can address how your products or services appeal to different types of people in different ways.

For example, the generational differences between a college student and a retiree might influence the way they interact with and experience your brand. While both might be part of your target audience, they might not be interested in your products or services for the same reasons, or be drawn to the same marketing or product messaging.  Ultimately, audience segmentation allows you to deliver tailored, strategic messages that are more effective than messaging for a generic audience profile.

Building buyer personas

Once you have a clear understanding of what your audience segments look like, you should start to develop buyer personas. These are semi-fictional characters built from your segmented audience data. A buyer persona will help bring your target audience to life.

Give your buyer persona(s) their own real name, and even their own avatar. This will help you to picture your audience when crafting your targeted messaging, as if speaking to a real person. For instance, one buyer persona may be called "Frugal Frank."

Describe what you have learned about your audience in a way that tells this persona’s own customer journey. It’s about seeing how they come into contact with your brand, what motivates them to feel something about it, and what will activate their engagement.

When you have a complete picture of the buyer personas you are speaking to, you are in a much stronger position to start developing branded content that both delights your customers and speaks to their needs. This is the key to becoming one of their trusted brands.

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