In any marketing plan or business strategy it is essential to identify your target audience. Whilst many businesses will have a view of who it is they are looking to target, we believe it is essential to have a thorough and in depth understanding of your buyer types considering what motivates them, how their needs differ, their perceptions of value, their influence and how long it is likely to take them to make their purchasing decisions.
This in depth understanding will allow you to tailor your brand identity and marketing plan to ensure each demographic within your target audience is addressed with the most relevant benefits. This will ensure they understand and trust your business so that they can build stronger, longer lasting relationships with you over your competitors.
Key areas for thought:
• Who is your target audience?
It is important to think broadly about your target audience.
• Who are they?
• What do they do?
• Where do they live?
• How much money do they have?
• What do they read?
• Where do they shop?
• And how do they spend their spare time?
Having a general overview of your target audience will bring definition to your brand, your messaging and your long term goals and objectives.
• What variations are there within this target audience?
Understanding the variations within your target audience is essential in tailoring your messaging to ensure it demonstrates the benefit for each various consumers needs. This will ultimately lead to more effective engagement, higher levels of conversions and stronger, longer lasting relationships. It is important to break down your audience into various demographics and understand which parts of your product or service are most important to them.
• How many decision makers are in this target audience?
Whilst this won‟t be relevant for all businesses, some buyer types will involve a handful of decision makers – this is most likely to be in a business environment where team “sign off” is needed. There may be other situations in which this is relevant – purchases for children are often influenced by both parent and child; holidays, for example, are normally agreed on by more than one person as they are household decisions in many cases.
• What motivates each of these decision makers?
Each decision maker or buyer type is likely to have subtly different motivations for using or buying your product or service. It is important that you understand all of these and remain aware of them when you are engaging with your consumers.
1. If your core target audience are highly influential and incredibly knowledgeable they are likely to have a well established, irreversible perception of your product or service before they engage with your marketing material. They are likely to be opinion leaders in the industry and will ensure your product or service flies. It will be essential that you engage with them in the very early stages of your product life cycle and ensure they help you iterate and evolve both your product and your brand. These individuals will expect to be involved in your product or service development, respected for their knowledge and influence and should be communicated to in an honest and authentic manner. Your business should have a personal relationship with this audience and a clear understanding of their expectations and demands. It is likely that you will engage with these individuals in either a social community or through traditional communication methods. It is unlikely that you will use any traditional advertising methods to engage with these consumers as they are unlikely to be influenced by media, branding or the opinion of others.
2. If your target audience are highly influential but have a limited understanding of your industry, business, product or service, education will be key in all of your communication. It will be essential for you to convey your user benefits but also clearly explain the functionality and features that determine your product or service. Given their influence, this audience will not respond well to traditional marketing and will expect you to value their opinions on your product or service. It will be important for you to make them feel involved with your development and you should engage with them using a brand specific online community or using traditional methods of your communication. You should be clear, concise and informative rather than creative and influential. Ensure they have a thorough understanding of your current position and long terms goals before they begin promoting your brand and provide them with the tools and materials to do this effectively. You may have to incentivise them for sharing your brand through an ambassador programme, a referral rewards scheme or simply a competition or discount. Their experience of understanding your business should be more personal than a how to guide or product walk through. Given their high level of influence, you may want to create some social „helpers‟ who are available to support people using your product or service and reachable through branded social channels.
3. If your target audience has a low social influence and limited knowledge of your business, you should not expect any consumer acquisition to develop through social channels or word of mouth marketing. Your marketing material needs to help users understand the value in your product or service and should be delivered using traditional marketing channels. Once users are engaging with your brand, it will be important to ensure they understand each element of functionality with a product guide or a how to marketing campaign. Given the low influence of your audience, you need to consider, as a business, the most effective way in educating your consumers whilst minimising the resources and budget involved with this activity. You are likely to need continual investment in traditional marketing activity to compensate for the lack of social sharing and influence your users will bring to your business.
4. If your core target audience are highly knowledgeable about your business, product or service but have a low level of social influence, your messaging should be incredibly clear, concise and assumptive of the knowledge your audience has. You will have the ability to be creative with your brand from an early stage and will not need to explain the functionality or benefits associated with your business. Whilst your consumers social influence will be low and so it is unlikely that your business will grow through word of mouth marketing or social sharing, you can benefit in that, as your business messages are unlikely to be shared, they can be incredibly tailored for you audience so you can expect high conversion rates. It is likely that you will need to continually invest in traditional marketing methods in order to grow your business.
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