5 Steps to Finding Your Target Customers

by | How To..., Strategy

There are a lot of people telling me to blast ads all over Facebook and Instagram, but that doesn’t resonate with me. How do I find where my target audience lives without blasting ads all over the internet?

— Max

When it comes to starting a business, knowing how to reach your target audience is crucial. But how do you find them?

First… who is your target audience?

When I heard Max’s question, I immediately thought, “It sounds like he’s put the cart before the horse.” Why? Because in order to know how to reach your target audience, you need to know who they are.

You need to really know them.

Blasting ads over social media is not a marketing strategy (as I think Max already knew). That’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. Instead, you need to know who your audience is in a very detailed — dare I say intimate — way. Does that mean you need to be best friends? No. But it does mean you need to understand as much as you possibly can about your target customers.

For example:

  • How old are they? Teens? 30’s? 70’s? Every stage of life has its own set of worries, priorities, likes and dislikes.
  • What types of jobs/careers/education do they have?
  • How do they get to work/school every day?
  • How do they like to spend their free time?
  • Do they vacation? If so, how, where and why. If not, why not?

Without understanding exactly who you’re speaking to, your message and, ultimately, your sales and marketing plan will fall flat.

How to find your target customers.

When it comes to finding your target audience, these five steps will help you find them where they live.

1. Identify your ideal customers.

Before thinking about where your target audience lives, you first need to focus on identifying your ideal customer segments as specifically as you can. Customer segments will depend on your specific business, but can be divided into groups based on a variety of factors, including:

  • Behavior
  • Interests
  • Type of Problem
  • Demographics

This exercise is not a matter of quantity, but of quality. To help you do that…

2. Create customer personas.

For each type of ideal customer (i.e., customer segment) you should be creating a detailed customer persona. That means putting yourself in that specific person’s shoes and imagining everything about them — where they grew up, where they live, their job/school, interests, likes/dislikes/quirks. The more specific, the better. Another word for this is empathy. But that’s just the beginning…

3. Research.

Developing an effective customer persona takes research. Some may be possible by searching the web, reading a variety of content, etc. But the most crucial part of your research MUST include the next step, which is…

4. Talk to people! Observe them.

Interview people! Develop a list of questions that you can ask in person. Supplement those interviews with an online survey. And always take the opportunity to observe them, if it’s relevant to your business. HELPFUL HINT: Always remember to ask for people’s contact information, in case you’d like to follow-up.

5. Get out of the building.

Whether you’re talking to people, observing them or both, you’ve got to get out of the house or office. If finding your ideal customers means standing in front of the grocery store to talk with young professionals as they grab dinner after work or going to the local park to interview parents or standing at a bus stop when the shift changes at the local factory, then do it. A lot. By the time you’re through, you should feel like you’re inside their heads, and it will make a world of difference in your ability to reach your target audience.

These boots-on-the-ground grassroots strategies will teach you more about your target audience than anything you can learn online or from hearsay. More than that, you will gain valuable insight into how to reach others like them and how you can improve your offerings (i.e., products and services).

Social media is not a strategy, it’s a tool.

Ultimately, social media is not a marketing strategy in and of itself. It’s simply one of several tools available as part of your overall marketing strategy.

So spend the time and do your homework… it will pay off in spades.

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