target audience

Are You Sure You Know Your Target Audience? How to Find Out

Your team seems to be doing everything right. You know what you offer, what value you provide, and how those attributes align. But you just aren’t seeing the lead velocity you want.

Are you running paid search campaigns and finding the leads are a poor fit for your business? Or that your sponsored ads are showing up in the wrong locations? Are your sales teams having meeting with the right people? Maybe they bring you along to the meetings and when you get there you realize the lead will never buy your service. Do you get the feeling when you’re interacting with leads that something isn’t quite right?

These breakdowns may indicate that you haven’t found the perfect product-market fit. Here are some signs you might not be targeting the right audience — and what to do about it.

You’re targeting anyone who walks in the door.

You’re passionate about your offerings. You have no doubt that they could benefit a wide variety of people. Are you harder pressed to think of who you don’t want to contact than who you do? If that’s the case, your target audience might not be targeted enough.

Imagine you’re shopping for a gift for a teenager. Try and picture what you’d get that teenager. Tricky, isn’t it? Without knowing anything about the person except their age — not their gender, their location, their interests, their needs — it’s really difficult to buy an appropriate gift for them.

You might be thinking, Ok, but what about a car? Any teenager wants a car! And since our offerings are so awesome, anyone will want them.

Not so fast. Even if your products or services could benefit anyone, not everyone will really resonate with the value you’re providing or be drawn in enough to listen to your message.

Consider a small electric car and a full-size pickup truck. Neither is better than the other, they are just each aligned to audiences with completely different experiences and lifestyles. So their target audiences are completely different, too: an eco-conscious single mother with a tiny car budget for her teen daughter vs. a father whose teen son will use the truck to help with their family landscaping business.

Plus, if you’re casting too wide of a net, you and your team are wasting a lot of energy sorting through the flotsam and jetsam that you pull in. You may catch a fish or two, but not before discarding the tin can, the lost shoe, the spare bicycle wheel. And, if you do catch that big fish, you won’t know if it was because you were fishing in the right area or if you just got lucky.

On the other hand, if you research where a particular type of fish hangs out, go there and bait specifically for that fish, you can tie your success to your intentional efforts and repeat it in the future.

Raise the bar from “anyone with a bank account” to some really specific criteria that will guide you and your sales team to client gold:

  • Industry – what industry is the best fit for your offerings? Say you sell high-tech gloves that automatically adjust to external temperatures.
    • All of Chicago may want your product in the winter, but for a reliable source of clientele, dig deeper: Professional skiers? Construction workers? Ice skating instructors?
  • Demographics – what is the age, gender, location, and other basic identifying information of the people who will most benefit from your offerings?
  • Psychographics – what are your target audience’s habits, interests, and values? These run a little deeper than dry demographics.

You aren’t finding leads in the places you thought they’d be.

You’ve got your industry, demographics, and psychographics down, and you’re hot on your target audience’s trail. You’ve talked to your sales team, and you’ve heard that the group you’re looking for lives on LinkedIn. So, you do some targeted outreach, even join some professional groups on the platform, and nothing manifests. Sure, you have some good conversations, but deals-wise, you’re still coming up empty.

If your target audience isn’t showing up where you expected, it’s time to do a bit more research.

  • Talk to your existing customers and ask them where their favorite industry watering holes are. Where do they go for information?
  • Hold informational interviews with a few people who would be ideal clients for you. Even if these meetings don’t turn into new business, you can get valuable information on the best places to turn to find your next big sale.
  • Hit the trade shows, especially the smaller, more targeted ones. Chat with attendees and really dig into their interests and needs.
  • Research the social accounts your competitors follow. Pay attention to who they retweet, repost, and respond to.
  • Read up on industry blogs and journals to get inside information and to understand how to maximize your outreach efforts.

Your audience isn’t engaged.

But, maybe you’ve done all of that, you’ve found the right people in the right places and you’ve brought them to your door. And maybe they take a peek in, explore your website, read an email or two, and then wander away.

If you’ve found your ideal clients and they’re nibbling but swimming away, what you’re offering might not be attractive enough to hook them. In this case, you may want to take a look at your messaging.

  • Does it speak to your target audience’s challenges, needs, and wants? If you draw a lead in with a solid email or ad and then they bounce away from your website within a few seconds, it’s likely you aren’t answering the need that drove them to click.
    • An ad with the headline “Does your construction team have the winter blues?” might draw your potential clients into your glove company’s website. But if the page they visit only discusses how fantastic your company is, they’ll bounce away because their expectations weren’t met.
  • Does it reach them at the right time in the buyer’s journey?If your targeted outreach gets nothing but crickets in response, your message might not match up to the timing of their needs or where they are in their decision process.
    • If you send a few informative blog posts to a list of ski instructors raising their awareness about the effects of cold temperature on reaction times, you may be preaching to the choir. They may be well aware that their team needs high-tech gloves and other winter gear to prevent sluggish runs and be looking for more solutions-focused messaging.
  • Does it tell their story? If your leads don’t find themselves in your messaging, you may be losing them.
    • You may have identified the who, what, where, and how of your target audience but need to dig deeper into the why. What motivates them? Beyond industry, demographics, and psychographics, what story will help them see themselves using your offerings? To know your audience on this level, try building out a persona.

So, there you have it — 3 key ways to tell if you don’t quite have a handle on your target audience. Looking for more on finding that perfect product-market fit? Check out our video on target audience and this target audience worksheet you can discuss with your team.

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