Do You Know Your Brand’s Ideal Client Characteristics?
I was walking down the street the other day and two kids were selling lemonade on the corner. There was a couple ahead of me, the kids stopped them and asked if they would like some lemonade. Then they upsold the older couple a cookie. I start walking by, expecting to be called over to buy some lemonade. But the kids didn’t stop me, they just smiled and waved. I asked, “Aren’t you going to ask me if I want to buy some lemonade?” And the little girl says, “No, you’re not married.”
I had to break this down a bit—what the cute candid girl was trying to say was that I wasn’t her ideal client. Regardless of where she performed her research, she had an idea of her ideal client characteristics, or in this case, her ideal lemonade customer: middle-aged married couples. Why? Because from her research and experience, they have more money. I, on the other hand, appeared poor I guess.
Here’s the funny part, I actually didn’t have any cash on me—I couldn’t pay them if I had wanted to. Therein lies the significance of understanding your target market. Do you know yours?
What is a Target Market?
When we think of our ideal target market, the first thing that probably comes to mind is age and gender. I sell to middle-aged women. That’s a great start, but to identify your ideal client’s characteristics, you need to dig much deeper.
So what is a target market exactly? A target market is a well-specified segment of the market that your business is aiming to sell to. Defining your target market is about revealing valuable details—their income, location, marital status, number of children, drink of choice, whatever makes sense for what you’re trying to target an audience for.
Clearly identifying your target market allows you to market like an archer, not a commercial fisherman. Because, it might sound counterintuitive, but targeting more people doesn’t result in more sales. You have to directly reach the people who are sure to love your stuff. Don’t cast too wide of a net.
The point here is: the more you know about your audience, the easier it is to target them. And the less you know about your audience, the harder it will be to find the people who want your product or service.
How to Find Your Target Audience
1. Know Yourself First
Knowing who you are as a brand is one of the crucial first steps to defining your target market. There’s no sense in going after a target market if you don’t even know who you are. Would you seek out dates on a dating app before filling out your own profile? Hope not, that’s creepy.
But if you haven’t defined you yet, you’re not alone. It’s actually incredibly common for small businesses to start looking for their target audience before they figure out who they are as a brand. They don’t know how they come off to others, how they should speak to their audience, and they haven’t defined the real meaning and purpose behind their business yet.
Finding your ideal clients is a relational strategy. You have to be grounded and consistent in who you are before you can expect to attract clients that relate to you. The clearer you are about who you are, what value you bring to the world, and how you conduct external communications, the easier it will be to find your people.
Knowing yourself starts with identifying your niche. Without knowing what your niche clearly is, how do you expect to dominate it? You need a brand messaging strategy that complements the niche you’re in, and a brand positioning strategy that does the same.
For our clients, these strategies come from The Code or a Brand Audit, so a small business has information that clearly defines who they are and where they’re headed.
Related Articles to Learn More About Defining Your Brand
2. Conduct Market Research
Don’t go in blind, casting a wide net to anyone who might bite isn’t effective. And choosing this, that, and the other as ideal client characteristics won’t set you off on the right foot. You have to do your research.
Research, especially when it comes to business, numbers, stats, and big, analytical words that you don’t understand, can feel like an intimidating task. But it’s necessary, and it doesn’t have to be a big hairy problem.
Start by compiling data from the sources you have available to you. You can collect current data from the following:
Data From Your Existing Business
How well has your marketing performed thus far? When marketing to specific types of people, are you finding that your messaging resonates with them? Have you even marketed to specific people, or did you just throw stuff out there trying to catch someone’s eye … anyone’s eye?
General Market Data
The market you’re operating in can tell you a lot about who can and will be interested in your products or services. Do middle-aged dads usually shop around in your market for your brand’s type of gadgets or gizmos? Or are there more teenage boys found in your market?
Taking a peek at your competitors is something that’s always worthwhile in small business. From content strategies to target audiences, your competition can tell you a lot about what might work for your brand and what might not.
This type of information is collected by third parties that don’t have any direct relationship with your brand or your market. Third-party data is collected using websites and platforms to find and create specific audience profiles for different types of niches and markets. Then, this data is segmented into particular categories, like trinket-loving grandmas and sport-fan grandpas.
Review all of your existing web analytics and take away what you can find out about your audience. Comprehend what your competition is doing right, what they’re doing wrong, and who gives a crap about their products. And get really clear on your USP (unique selling potential). How are you differentiating yourself from others? What makes you worth someone’s time or money?
With so many places to collect the information you will need to target an audience, you have to know what kinds of characteristics and qualities you’re looking for.
Here are some basics:
- Age And Stage Of Life – Retired? Student? Single mom?
- Location – Chicago? The suburbs of Dallas? Scratch Ankle, Alabama?
- Gross Annual Income – Rich? Poor? Middle class?
- Lifestyle – Marathon runner? Foodie? Frequent bar visitor?
- Where They Work – Accountant? Kindergarten teacher? Meat cleaver?
- What They Do In Their Free Time – Sports fan? Knitter? Competitive duck herder?
- Spending Power – Able to buy a new Bentley? A used Honda? A bus pass?
- Buyer Behaviors – Willing to buy a new Bentley, used Honda, or bus pass?
3. Create a Target Market Statement
You’re now beginning to create an ideal client profile, now is it time to forget everyone else and target those people for sales? Whoa, slow your roll.
It’s time to boil down what your market research told you. Consolidate what you found and mold it into one simple statement that specifically defines who your target audience is.
A statement that defines the details of your people gives you a clear portrait of who your target market is. You should include all characteristics of these customers, and even give the statement a name. Every detail is part of the ideal client puzzle.
For example, as a high-end steakhouse, your target market statement might sound something like this:
The Consistent Fine-Dining Customers
“XYZ Steakhouse is an establishment tailored to upper-middle-class, educated, self-proclaimed “cultured foodies” who are engaged in the source and impeccable flavor of their meals and expect a dynamic atmosphere and a doting staff. XYZ Steakhouse is the fine-dining establishment that will satisfy your tastebuds, tend to your specific dietary preferences, and ensure you feel like our world-class chef’s only customer.”
4. Test Your Target Market
Knowing your ideal client characteristics and behaviors isn’t enough. How will you know that these are the right people for you? Here’s how: by putting them to the test.
You have to test to see if your market research is right, and your targeted audience is attracted to what you have to offer. If your projected ideal client characteristics aren’t on point, you may need to go back and reevaluate. And you won’t really know whether that’s a necessity until you test it.
Use social media ads to test different variations of your target market. Target one group of people with an ad first, then see how a slightly different target audience reacts to that same ad. If one performs better than the other, that could tell you that those are the right ones for you.
Once you have defined your customer base, you can even conduct ideal client questionnaires. These types of questionnaires are simple to conduct and are easy for your customers to complete. Knowing the answers to the questions you feel are important to ask helps you learn more about who your customers are, what they want, and what they are attracted to. You never know when a little nugget of information can flip the whole script. Make sure to dip your toes in the water and try out the market you’ve found to be yours before putting your all into it.
Need Help Finding Your Perfect People?
Whether you’re defining your audience as you launch your brand new business or you’re redefining who it is you’re looking to sell to, it’s always important to take the time to find out who your people are. Get to know yourself, do your research, make things clear, and test the results that you’ve found.
If you need help launching your business the right way, right off the bat, or you’re just finding out who your target audience is and need some assistance, our brand experts will be able to help. Are your ideal client characteristics single moms with one boy, a cat, two donkeys, and three dogs? That’s cool. We can even help target those types of people (although we may find they come few and far between).
Buy Us A Beer! Let’s see how your brand positioning is working right now and what we can do to better target your perfect people.