Every entrepreneur knows that strong branding is imperative to the success of a business.
After all, your brand is your reputation. Your brand is what other people think about you.
Therefore, successful branding starts with knowing your target audience, and knowing it well.
This is, of course, a lot easier to say than it is to do.
As a business owner, you’ve probably got a gut instinct about what makes your target audience tick, but it’s never a great idea to rely on assumptions when it comes to running a business.
You need cold, hard facts.
Good news, business owners – you can stop trying to be mind-readers!
Here are 3 strategies to help you get into the minds of the people you are trying to reach in order to expand your business…
Ask your target audience for questions and opinions
Want to know what’s on people’s minds? Ask them!
It’s funny how we seldom think to just ask. Maybe it’s because we think they’ll feel inconvenienced or put on the spot.
This is a valid concern.
Why should anyone donate their time and focus just to help you out with your business?
However – if you’re asking with the intention to help them, they’d be crazy not to engage with you, right? What if you asked them to ask you questions?
Let that sink in for a moment.
Now the so-called burden is on you, not them.
Now they are benefiting from the exchange as well, not just you. Now it’s win-win.
Ask them what you can help them with today. What burning questions have they got on their minds? What frustrating problems do they have that you, a business owner and expert in your industry, can solve for them?
Always be asking for questions. There are many ways you can do this. You can put out a quick post on social media, make a note in an e-blast, mention it during an interaction at a networking event, or announce it during a seminar where you’re presenting.
If you don’t get much response right away, or you feel like your audience doesn’t know where to start asking questions, you can take some of the pressure off of them and ask them for their opinion about something.
For example, you might ask them about what they think about some industry news or a new trend. You could post pictures online of a product that is similar to yours, or in line with your brand, and ask them for their initial reactions. Then, carefully gage the responses you get and learn what you can about your audience’s mindset.
Go out for coffee with another business owner
You can learn a lot from other business owners who share the same target market, but are not your direct competition.
For example, if your business provides photography for high-end weddings in the city of Toronto, an entrepreneur who shares the same target market but isn’t in competition with you could be a florist who also services big budget weddings in the same city.
Networking with these business owners is beneficial for growing your business for several reasons. You can refer business to one another, you could collaborate on promotional offers and marketing, and you can share industry knowledge.
A great place to meet these non-competing entrepreneurs is at industry-specific networking events.
While breaking the ice with one of these entrepreneurs, ask them to describe their perfect client. If you see some common ground with your target audience, be sure to follow up after the initial meeting and ask them out for coffee.
First and foremost, DO NOT treat this meeting like an opportunity to give them your sales pitch. Rather, treat the coffee meeting like an informational interview.
As you would with any informational interview, come prepared with questions. Hopefully, you’ll have a lot in common (namely your common target audience) and the conversation will flow naturally and you’ll quickly build rapport, but having a list of questions will ensure you stay on track and focused, and not waste anyone’s time with awkward silences.
Avoid asking basic “yes or no” questions. Ask open-ended questions that get into deep discussions about your target’s psychographics (values, behaviors, beliefs, etc.), as opposed to superficial conversation about your target’s demographics (age, location, earning potential, etc.).
You could discuss where you find paying clients, ideal ways of reaching them, what kinds of online content appeals to your target market, what kind of questions your target audience asks, what types of services appeal to them, etc.
As non-competing vendors with a shared target market, you will no doubt have lots of information to share with one another. Ideally, both parties will benefit, learn, and grow their business from this meeting.
Analyze your favorite client
Out of all your clients, which ones are your favorites?
Get analytical. Why do you like them so much? And why do they like working with you?
Can you repeat the process that led you to these ideal clients?
You might be surprised at what you find as commonalities with the clients you like best.
It could be as basic as their creative spark and willingness to try new things. In which case, maybe you need to work with creative types more often.
Or maybe you like that they respect your time and don’t roll their eyes when you have to balance your business with raising a young family – because they are in the same boat.
Or maybe clients from a specific industry niche excite you the most, and you should focus on getting more business from that niche.
When you look closer at your favorite clients, you may even be surprised to discover that what you thought was your target audience, isn’t really your target audience.
Maybe you’ve outgrown your target audience. And that’s okay! Your target audience – much like your brand – is forever evolving and adapting, as your business grows.
Need a hand with your business brand? Contact Kim Speed at Purple Moon Creative today!