Every business needs an audience – who else is going to buy your products or services? The only problem is working out who your audience should be and what sort of competition there is to get their attention. And even then, you will still need to know how to tailor your business to suit their needs.
If you really want to tailor your business to your audience, you are going to have to be smart about it. This is one problem that you are going to face again and again as you refine and grow your business so getting into positive habits early on will only help you later. Even if you feel like what you are doing is a waste of time right now, remember: knowledge is power, the more you know, the more you can act on when the time comes.
Learn About Your Audience
The best way to learn about your audience is through user research methods such as A/B testing, customer feedback and usability testing. These methods are ideal for learning more about the way your audience interacts with you and, using split testing, you can decide which approach is the best fit. But we’ll come back to split testing later.
The more you can learn about your audience, the more likely it is that you will be able to satisfy their demands and adjust your business plans accordingly. If you don’t ask your audience what they are looking for, you will never find out and you could miss a vital piece of information. Your audience could well come up with something that you hadn’t considered before, leading you to provide a service or product that none of your competitors have come up with either.
Making up audience profiles is another good way to target your content and marketing campaigns. Some businesses have multiple audience profiles depending on the services they are offering and can tailor everything they do to cater for a particular need. For example, you might want to write a piece of content explaining a product or service that targets a particular audience and then rewrite that same explainer to target another audience. As long as you don’t duplicate content, this is a good way to expand your business audience without over-generalizing your content.
Talk About Your Ideas
If you want to know whether an idea is a good one or a bad one, it’s usually advisable to ask someone else. Talking about ideas is what really distinguishes humans from animals – we are able to communicate what we are thinking and take on new ideas quite easily. In business, talking is the main currency so learning to listen to other people’s ideas and discuss your own is vital to your success.
Going to networking events might not sound like a great way to refine and enhance your ideas but you would be surprised at how well other entrepreneurs can help your business along. Even talking to your competitors will give you an edge as you will be able to see where your businesses overlap and where you could carve your own niche within the market. And, the more business events you attend, the greater your chances of having the magical conversation that leads to a brilliant, game-changing idea.
You should also talk about your ideas with friends and family. Even if your friends and family aren’t your target audience, they are likely to be able to give an opinion on what you are doing and how it could be made better. Naturally, you should take all the advice you get with a pinch of salt – you are the expert, after all – but getting the lay-person’s opinion will help you to see your business through the eyes of someone who is new to the industry. It’s easy to get caught up in a game of buzzword bingo but your friends and family can show you where your jargon gets in the way of communicating ideas simply.
Use Split Testing, Leave Micro Targeting
Now that you know who your audience is and you have talked about and refined your ideas, the next step is to split test the ideas you have come up with. Split testing is part user research and part business refinement. On the one hand, you can use it to learn much more about your audience but on the other, you can use it to see where your campaigns are working and what might be falling flat. Split testing is common practice on social media but you can also split test landing pages and email campaigns.
Micro-targeting was relatively unknown until it hit the metaphorical political fan. The technique has been used to serve highly tailored ads designed to manipulate people’s sensibilities and has almost definitely affected the way democracies vote. The lesson here is that just because you can use microtargeting doesn’t mean that you should. In all likelihood, even a benign business ad that reaches a highly targeted audience is going to cost far more than you win back anyway. It’s much better to use split testing to refine your audience so far but then keep the numbers high enough to reach new people as well.
So what’s the real lesson here?
When you know your audience, you are much more likely to deliver content, information, services and products that they want from you. Without this knowledge, you are effectively shouting into a crowded room where some people might be interested but will be easily distracted by everything else around them. If you want to catch someone’s attention, you need to do something worthy of keeping it too.
Over time, your understanding of your audience will grow but your audience is likely to grow and change too. Starting with a broader idea of who you are targeting and refining is a lot easier than having to widen your audience. Try to be open-minded and see what works before you close off your options.
And finally, you should always listen to what you audience are telling you. They probably already know what they want from you – it’s easy to let them say!