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How to Research a Target Audience to Have a More Effective Business

How well do you know your target audience?

I mean, really know them.

You may think you know them, but if I asked you to describe them, could you tell me what keeps them up at night, or where they hang out online and what they do in their spare time? Do you know what they aspire to in life or what drives them to buy your products and services?

You should.

Why it’s important to research a target audience

Marketers and business strategists are always banging on about how important it is to research your target audience.

For good reason.

The primary principle of powerful marketing is to get the right message to the right audience. So, regardless of what you sell, you need to understand their world if you’re going to succeed in business.

How does it make you feel when Facebook ads arrive in your newsfeed that you have absolutely no interest in? Or what about when you read that article on SEO that completely loses you? It probably makes you wonder why they bother.

One of the most common mistakes business owners make is trying to appeal to a everyone. They create generic messages that don’t appeal to the people they’re trying to attract, and they use language that their audience doesn’t understand.  They’re hoping that by casting a wide net they’ll attract the big fish— but instead they waste valuable time and money attracting the wrong type of customers.

research-a-Target-audience-everyone-is-not-your-customer

Imagine how much easier it would be if you could target your ideal clients —people you want to work with, who energise and inspire you, who want your service and are happy to pay for it.

It’s possible to achieve this through target marketing and target market research.

What is Target Marketing?

Target Marketing is the process of identifying a group of people your business serves, for example, business owners, women or overweight people.

This group of people are called a Target Market.

However, because a target market is an extensive and unspecified group of people, it’s necessary to break it down into a specific group (within that target market). This group will become your Target Audience.

 

The Benefits of Target Market Research

Whether you’re just starting or growing your business, you need to know who your clients are and how to attract them. Without clients, your business has no chance of surviving. Conducting target market research enables you to find the best clients to work with and has many other benefits. You will

  • Develop better relationships with your audience.
    Knowing what creates tension in their business and their lives means that you can empathise with them. This means that you’ll get higher engagement on your messages because your audience knows that you get them‘. You’ll begin to develop trust.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

~Maya Angelou, poet

  • Get more engagement on your content. Because you’ll know what  interests and connects with them

You’ll also

 

  • Be more productive. Creating marketing content will be easier (for the same reason as above)
  • Know what motivates your audience to buy, so you’ll know how to persuade them
  • Know where to find them online and off
  • Better understand how your products and services fit the needs of your target audience, so you can tailor them to suit
  • Learn other ways to serve your audience and develop new products and services that you may not have thought of.

How to Define your Target Audience

Now you know who your overall target market is, it’s time to break it down into a specific category of people within that group. The first step is to decide who will benefit the most from your solutions, who you’re most passionate about helping and who are most likely to buy from you.

These people will have commonalities based around a mix of demographics such as age, occupation or marital status, and psychographics such as aspirations, beliefs and, most importantly, a common problem or need that your business can solve. For example:

  • new mums aged 18-35 who struggle with parenting
  • overweight men over 40 who have irritable bowel syndrome
  • MAMILs: Middle-Aged Men in Lycra who ride bicycles

To narrow this list down even further, you may want to include your own criteria for the types of people you want to work with—those who you consider to be your ideal clients. Or you may decide to work with people from one particular industry. This narrow focus is known as a niche.

Once you have compiled this list, the ‘people’ on this list become your Target Audience.

The next step is to research and discover what makes that target audience tick, and you can reach them.

Happy-client-target-audience

How do you find a target audience?

The idea behind the research is to get as much information as you can on your target audience. The more you know and understand them, the easier it will be to sell and market to them. Therefore, knowing your target audience well is one of the most important things you can do for your business.

1.     A great place to start is to research your client base

Look at the characteristics of your best existing or past customers and for commonalities among them. Then, create a spreadsheet to record your findings.

For example:

 

  • Categorize by demographics: age, gender, location, profession, title and industry and then by psychographics: beliefs about your industry, hobbies, and interests. Include any other relevant or interesting information you find.
  • Add any groups they belong to (networking, social, industry etc.) and any conferences or events they attend.
  • Consider who are the easiest to work with. What qualities or behaviours makes them the easiest?
  • Where do you meet your clients? Are there particular types of people or industries you seem drawn to?
  • If they are past clients, look at what they purchased from you. Then, analyze what were they like to work with, adding anything else you know about them.
  • What do you know about your website visitors and people who have downloaded your offer or signed up for your newsletter?

2.   Go online to Research Potential Prospects 

  • Check out any Facebook groups your target audience may belong to—business groups, industry groups, special interest groups etc. Immerse yourself in the community to understand their problems and see the world through their eyes.
  • When you find someone who fits the criteria of your audience, look at the questions they ask – is it something you can help them with? Look at the answers they give to others. Do they say anything revealing? Have they recommended any businesses? Check out what they post, what links they share, any advice they give and what they’re interested in.  To search for a particular topic within the group. Simply click on the search tool and type in your criteria.
  • Look at your 2nd and 3rd level connections on LinkedIn. Do they have commonalities within the criteria of your target audience? Then, dig a little deeper and look at their activity, what type of content they comment on, what comments they make, and what content they share? When a person shares content from a third party, it’s because it resonates with them.
  • Add these to the spreadsheet.

3.  Research your Competition

Keep a close eye on your competition. If their businesses are selling a similar product to yourself and have been doing so for years, they already know your audience very well.

 

  • Look at their social media platforms and for the content that gets the most engagement. Also look at the people who leave comments. Can you learn anything about them? What type of content resonates with them the most? (This will give you an indication of the type of content you could consider posting).
  • Add these to the spreadsheet.

4.  Look for them when you’re out and about 

  • Practice the art of networking— Visit networking groups, conferences, trade shows and anywhere your target clients hang out. Talk to people who match your target audience—practice 80% listening and 20% talking. Use open-ended questions and pay attention to their body language. Sometimes it’s about reading between the lines.
  • Add these to the spreadsheet.

What now?

Organise your target market spreadsheet

Organize your spreadsheet

By now, you’ll have a lengthy spreadsheet with lots of columns.

Go through the list and highlight the common characteristics.

Organize that list into at least one profile (ideal client persona) based on those shared characteristics,

Then,

Evaluate your decision

Once you’ve done the research and decided on who your target audience is, it’s time to consider the following; ask yourself

  • Has the research shown my target audience to be who I thought they were?
  • Are there enough people in my target audience who need my products and services?
  • Will my target audience benefit from my product and services? Will they see a need for it?
  • Do I understand what influences my target market to decide to buy? what influences my target market to make decisions?
  • Can they afford my product or service? What stage of business are they in? Are they a startup?
  • Can I reach them with my messages? Are they easily accessible?

 

What if you have more than one Target Audience?

Your product or service may be of benefit to more than one target audience. This situation can be challenging and is where segmentation comes into play.

If there are more similarities than differences, the best practice is to have one Primary Target Audience (those you give the most focus to) and one or more Secondary Target Audience(s), who you give less focus to. These people generally have fewer demands for your product or service.

Secondary target audiences generally differ from a primary audience by having different buying habits and characteristics. In this instance, it may be the case that your ‘primary’ target marketing will pick up your secondary audience anyway. On the other hand, it might be better to create separate personas if there are marked differences between audiences.

There is much contention around separate personas because they can be challenging to manage, particularly for small businesses. This article from the University of Queensland covers the consequences of targeting multiple audiences in online ads. Although its focus is on a product (an online game), it’s definitely worth the read.

Researching a target audience may appear time-consuming, but it will impact every aspect of your business and save you a lot of time, heartache and sleepless nights in the future because it will take your business from this:

To this,

So go ahead and schedule a couple of hours in the coming weeks to do the reasearch.  It’ll be the best thing you can do for your business.

I hope this blog post helps you with your target marketing. Please feel free to share it with friends and colleagues that may benefit from the information.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Just leave a comment below.

Blog Vs Video : Which is best for my business?

Blog Vs Video : Which is best for my business?

“I’m in the B2B space and have a service-based business.

I want to create content that gives me the most bang for my buck, and I want to do it myself.

I’ve heard that a blog is best, but I’ve also heard that video is best.

Which should I choose, Blog or Video?”

Blog vs Video: The Two Most Popular Content Platforms

Marketers describe content marketing as a hungry ‘beast’ with many mouths to feed. Keeping the beast satisfied and your small business thriving requires a constant claim on your time and energy. It can be overwhelming and confusing. Should you write blog posts, or create video? Should you podcast or focus on social media advertising?

Depending on who you listen to and what they’re selling, any content platform will be judged the best. In addition there’s so much noise online; it’s no wonder business owners are confused.

 

Blog vs Video

Which one is best for my business? Blog or Video?

There are many different forms of content, but the two most popular content platforms for B2B business are the blog and the video. Deciding which side to back will depend on many factors, such as

  • the type of content you’re most comfortable creating
  • your level of skill and knowledge
  • your budget
  • what content format your ideal clients prefer to consume, and
  • how much time you have to create that content – consistently

Whichever content format you choose, stick to it.

If you’re creating content yourself, I suggest you choose one content format and stick with that because it’ll make your life a whole lot easier.  Just remember, whichever you choose, success starts with a strategy.

As Joe Pulizzi founder of The Content Marketing Institute states

One Platform

+ Consistent Delivery

Over Time

= Success

Blog vs Video: The Pros and Cons

 

To  help you make the decision, let’s look at the pros and cons for creating blogs and video, as the #1 content platform for your business.

 

Note:   There are two types of video: short-form and long-form. Long-form is the video referred to in this post. It’s the type of video that sits on sites like YouTube and are typically around 6-11 minutes in length, though this can vary. This form of video is used as the Number 1 content marketing platform for the business. So it isn’t a Facebook live or the 30-second video clip you see on social media.

Pros and Cons

Blog and Video – The Facts

 

1.  Blog vs Video: Content home

 

BLOG

Blogs live on your website – and you own your website. Unless you delete them, blogs stay on your website and attract traffic 24/7.

VIDEO

Video mostly lives on 3rd party platforms that you have no control over — and they can disappear at any time – remember Google Plus?

 

2.  Blog Vs Video: Engagement Rates

 

BLOG

Engagement rates are variable.

43%* of people read the headline of a blog post, then the opening paragraph. They then scan the rest of the content.

*statistic from OptinMonster 2020

 

A blog is a strong vehicle for building trust and long-term relationships. They drive readers to your website where, after reading your article, they typically spend time exploring other content on your site, which includes reading your older blog posts. If they get value from what they see, there’s a very good chance they’ll download your lead magnet – which means you’ve captured their email address. Now that they’re on your email list you can engage with them further via email marketing.

 

VIDEO

Most videos are either hosted on YouTube and embedded onto a website or uploaded directly into the backend of the website.  However, they can slow down the website’s page load time which may drive visitors away.

Uploaded videos are typically short, 30 seconds to 3 minutes in length, (most people these days have short attention spans) and may result in a similar engagement pattern as described in the point above. However, if you place your video in a social newsfeed, like Facebook or YouTube, the viewer will typically remain in that newsfeed. That being said, long-form videos allow for in-depth content and the opportunity for relationship building.

The most commonly created types of video are

 Long-Form

  • explainer & educational videos (72%)
  • presentation videos (49%)

Short-form

  • testimonial videos (48%)
  • sales videos (42%) and
  • video ads (42%).

(Wyzowl, 2019)

 

When measuring engagement it’s important to remember that video engagement is the same as video views – and is measured by the number of people who clicked to watch the video. On Facebook, a 3-second view is considered engagement.

 

NOTE:  Both the blog and video are ideal platforms for creating awareness and relationship building.

Whichever content platform you chose, you may want to keep the following survey results in mind.

A survey of 1200 businesses in 39 countries, undertaken by SEM Rush in 2020, found that written content remains the most common form. The study showed that the dominant content formats are blog posts (86%), emails (67%), case studies (42%), and success stories (36%). Only 28% of respondents stated they produce video content.

 

Content marketing survey results

3.  Blog Vs Video: SEO

 

BLOG

Blog posts are, without doubt, the best content to create for SEO. Every time you write a blog post, you add another keyword rich page to your website. That’s another page indexed by Google – a page that boosts your SEO and page rank which helps drives visitors to your website.

 

VIDEO

As yet, Google cannot read video, only text. Keyword terms are placed in the heading, tags and description to boost SEO. If placing the video on a website, adding a transcription also helps.

 

4.  Blog vs Video: Production Time

 

BLOG

Most people spend 3.5 hours writing a blog post. However, this is generally split over several days.

 

VIDEO

On average, a YouTube Video takes 7 hours from start to finish for 1-5 minutes of video.

*stats Medium.com

5.  Blog Vs Video: Investment

 

BLOG

 Creating any long-form content takes time. With blog posts, there’s time spent on research, writing, re-writing, editing, adding/creating visuals, publishing and promotion. However, once you have a ‘library’ of posts it’s easy to update older posts and republish them, negating the need to write as often. You may also choose to promote your post on social channels, in which case you’ll need a budget for that.

 

VIDEO

Depending on the type of video you create, the cost of video production and promotion can vary. If video is your main content format, you’ll need a YouTube channel and a budget for production. Time is a significant investment, as is equipment for filming and editing. There’s research, scripting, recording, audio mixing, thumbnail creation and SEO to do. Then you have to promote it.

 

6.  Blogs vs Video: Repurposing

 

BLOG

One of the BIG PLUSES for creating blog posts is that it gives you a regular supply of content for social media. On blog post can be transformed into smaller pieces such as; a 30-second video, a quote post, a LinkedIn article, a slide set, an infographic…

Having an established supply of blog content on your website means that you won’t have to be continually creating new content.

Older blog posts can be updated and repromoted to drive more traffic to your website and then transformed into new, bite-sized formats to supply you with more promotional content for social media.

 

VIDEO

Video is not so easy to update. Using tools you can update your titles, SEO and descriptions. But short of reshooting scenes and re-editing that’s about all you can do. (And that will depend on whether you still have the original raw video to edit).

 

7.  Blog Vs Video: Equipment

 

BLOG

You can blog anywhere, any time, any place. All you need is your laptop and an internet connection. You can blog in your PJs at 4 p.m. or at 3 a.m. Most bloggers spread out the process over several days.

Also, hair and makeup are not required. And it makes no difference if the dog barks in the background or you choose to refresh your energy levels with a hot coffee in the middle of writing.

 

VIDEO

Video requires a location and recording equipment. It requires being organised, getting a script written and putting some time in for rehearsal. Of course you can choose to wing it, but if it’s a long-form video, I’d advise against that — unless you’re an expert at presenting. We’ve all clicked on videos that take forever to get to the point —and in frustration, clicked right off again.

There’s also the lighting and sound to consider. Unless there is adequate light outside, the video will need to be shot inside with professional lighting. You’ll also require a decent microphone.

If you’re doing a talking head or tutorial video and being seen by an audience, it’ll be necessary to look professional. That means hair done, clothing ironed and a quick check that there’s no lipstick or food stuck on your teeth.

A quiet location is mandatory – dog ousted from the room.

Blog vs Video

What Content Type Does Your Audience Prefer?

 

Whatever content platform you decide to focus on, first ask yourself “does my audience mostly prefer to watch video or read a blog post?”   If you aren’t able to answer this question, you will need to do some research on your ideal target audience.

For instance, if your audience is young, they will prefer to spend more time watching video on YouTube or Instagram than searching on Google for articles. However, an older audience is more likely to prefer to read a blog post and watch the occasional video.

 

81% of 15-25 year olds use YouTube

The average time spent is 11 minutes & 24 seconds per day

(Hootsuite, 2020 Stats from the USA)

Want the Biggest Bang for Your Content Marketing Buck?

 

Want to hedge your bets?

  • If you choose to go with a Blog — use a mix of short and long-form articles. Ensure your long-form posts are Evergreen – the content is relevant to your audience long after they’ve been published.
  • Then make a couple of short-form videos using a snippet of information from within your post. Best practice is to stick to one topic per video.
  • These short videos are an effective way to promote your post across your social channels. Drive traffic to your post by including a reference to your article at the end of the video plus a link in the description.
  • If you decide to go with long-form Video — have them transcribed into blog posts. And break them down into short videos to promote on social.

     Either way you get the best of both worlds!

     

    Conclusion

    Whichever platform you choose to use for your main content – whether that’s a blog or video – it’s success will be dependent on several factors:

    1.   The type of business you have and its resources

    2.  The content preference of your target clients

    3.  Your personal content preference – after all, it’s important to enjoy the process

    4.  Consistency in content creation and promotion

    and most importantly,

    5.  A strategy that helps you focus your content and stay on track to achieving your goals.

     

    Blog posts remain the most popular content type

    In spite of the fact that video is a trend in content marketing, a blog post remains the most important type of content produced by 86% of marketers.

    SEM Rush (2020)

     

    Happy content creating!

     

    Further reading:  How to find the right target audience for your business blog

    Survey Results: Content Marketing Statistics for 2020 SEM Rush

    10 Reasons Why You Should Never Host Your Own Videos

    So what’s your content preference? Blogs or Video? Or do you choose something else. I’d love to hear your opinion below.