06 Jun 101 Questions to Define Your Target Audience (and Where to Find the Answers)
Some of you may be B2B. So instead of thinking of your customer on an individual level, you need to take the type of companies you will be selling to into consideration. Here are a few questions to answer (thinking of the types of companies you would be selling to):
- What industry are they in?
- How many employees do they have? If you’re a B2B business, you may have to navigate through a few different people at a given company in order to finally get in touch with the person you can make the decision to buy your product. Knowing the company size can help to clarify how many levels that company has. It can also be an indicator of how successful that company is, how much revenue they bring in, and simply whether or not they will be a good fit for your product.
- Where does their company operate? For example, are they spread across the country? Also, are they a remote or “in-house” team?
- Do they sell primarily online or in-store?
- How much revenue do they bring in per year?
Again, more of a B2B consideration, qualities and tasks associated with someone’s job can help you figure out who to market to within a company, who can make purchases, and who will be a good fit for your product.
- Who do they report to? Anyone?
- What defines success in their position? For instance, are there any metrics that define success in their position? If they’re a writer, that might be the amount of traffic to their article or increasing their average article read time (defined by time on page). Does your product help them accomplish any of these goals?
- What does their typical day look like?
- Which skills does their job require? Knowing what type of skills this person needs can help you develop copy (marketing copy, blog posts, ad content, etc.). If someone needs to know SEO, you may want to create content to help educate them in SEO. A blog post, a free PDF, or a course would all appeal to them and be a good way to get their attention.
- Which tools do they use? If you find they use a group of software or other tools in their position, this could be an opportunity to partner with one of the companies that sell that tool. Maybe that person also follows that company’s blog, so getting a guest or sponsored post on that blog might be a good way to get on that person’s radar.
- What is their role in the buying process?
Values & Motivation
Now, we can begin to find out what causes your customers to take action. Their values, goals, fears, challenges, and pain points will all influence how that person acts and ultimately, makes a purchase. So here are a few questions to answer:
- What’s important to them?
- What do they value?
- What is causing their need for change? Did something break, do they need to cut costs, if it’s a company, are they struggling to get customers? What is forcing them to finally make a move?
- How do they generally go about enacting that change? Do they turn to a friend for a recommendation? Or, do they turn to Google to do some research first?
- What emotions motivate them (fear, anger, etc.)?
- What are their goals?
- What are their fears?
- What are their challenges?
- What problem do they have that needs solving?
- What are their pain points? Pain points often guide how customers act and make decisions. Pain points are the things that cause the consumer trouble and can ultimately lead to a purchase. For example, if my phone starts to run slow, it’ll drive me crazy. I’m impatient. That’s a pain point and if it slows down enough, I may turn to investing into a new phone. You can capitalize on that pain point by talking about how your phone is super fast and will never slow down. That would be appealing to me in that situation. Knowing your customer’s pain points can guide your marketing copy and help to address their concerns.
- What are their needs?
- Where is this company or person trying to go?
- Is the company trying to grow faster, become more efficient, cut costs, etc.?
- What drives them to make purchasing decisions? Is it emotion based (like fear), are they most concerned with getting the cheapest solution, are they focused on getting the most return for their money, etc.?
- What would hold them back?
- What do they care about?
- Who do they listen to or look to for advice? Friends, family, or maybe an authoritative figure? Maybe they follow some celebrity and listen to everything they say. That may be a good opportunity for sponsorship or to hire that celeb for an ad campaign.
- How does your product or service make them look like the hero in their company? Everyone wants to be recognized for their work. How does your product make them stand out and look like the “hero” in their company?
- How does your product or service make their life easier or better?
Where Do They Spend Their Time?
Knowing where your target audience hangs out can help you to identify marketing opportunities like local advertising, event sponsorships, company partnerships, and more. Here are a few questions to consider:
- Where do they hang out in real life? Are there any places they routinely go? Maybe like a coffee shop, a certain store, a fitness club, etc. There may be an opportunity for partnership or advertising in one of these places.
- What do they do in their spare time? Do they like to go out a lot? Do they have any hobbies?
- What conferences do they attend? If you find that your target customer attends a few specific conferences a year, you may want to sponsor or attend that conference.
- What events do they go to? The same goes for events like a concert, sporting event, festival, etc. There may be an opportunity for sponsorship or attendance to get in front of your customers.
What Type of Content Do They Enjoy?
Knowing what type of content your audience enjoys and how they find it is vital to guiding your content strategy. You don’t want to waste time producing the wrong type of content or marketing it through the wrong channels. You want to make sure you’re creating content they care about, search for, are likely to share, and that it’s written in a voice that speaks to them.
So here are a few questions to ask when thinking about content for your audience:
- How do they spend their time online? Do they mostly read new stories, browse online stores, read blogs, watch videos on YouTube, etc.?
- What type of content do they enjoy/share (images, video, tutorials, etc.)?
- How do they find their content (Google, Twitter, Instagram, Magazines, etc.)?
- What keywords do they search?
- Where do they search (Google, Amazon, etc.)?
What Type of Media Do They Follow?
People read, follow, and support all types of publications and forms of media. However, how is this important to you? Does it really matter that you know what TV shows someone watches, what magazines they read, or what organizations they support? For some companies, it might not. But, for a lot of you, knowing this information can help to guide your marketing efforts.
For instance, if your target audience reads Time magazine, that might be a place to try to purchase an ad space to create brand awareness. If you know what brand they follow, that could be an opportunity for a partnership. If you know what causes they support or what events they go to, that may be an opportunity for a sponsorship. All viable ways to get in front of your potential customers.
- What social media networks do they use?
- Who do they follow on social media? Are there any notable celebrities or iconic figure they follow?
- What blogs or new sites do they read/follow?
- What forums do they use?
- What magazines do they read?
- What newspapers do they read?
- What shows or channels do they watch?
- What radio stations do they listen to?
- What brands do they follow?
- What stores do they shop at?
- What websites do they visit?
- What causes or organizations do they support?
Product Specific Audience Questions
- Does this person currently buy something like you’re selling? When it comes to defining your audience or deciding on a product to create, it may seem like a bit of let down when you find out company X is already offering something similar. But really, this helps to validate your idea. If people are already buying something, it shows that they already have an interest in it rather than something no one has ever bought yet which could have a high chance of bombing.
- How is your product solving their problem? Is it eliminating some type of hassle, saving time, making them look good, saving them money, earning them money? Whatever it is, you should have a clear idea what problem you’re solving. Don’t focus on your product’s features. Focus on benefits. Knowing what problems you solve will help to highlight these benefits and allow you to better focus your marketing efforts on your customer’s pain points.
- What would hold them back from buying your product or service? Is it too expensive? Maybe it’s too cheap. A cheaper product can sometimes create a perceived value of low-quality. Maybe your company or brand lack of authority? In other words, you may not be seen as trustworthy or competent. Knowing what would hold your customer back will help you to focus your efforts on fixing these issues. Or, addressing them head-on in your marketing copy.
Everything Else to Know About Your Audience
Below, you’ll find questions about your customers ranging from how they communicate, how much they are willing to pay, how they get to your website, and more. Basically, everything that I didn’t feel the need to categorize on its own but still should be considered when thinking about your customers.
- What type of personality do they have (introverted or extroverted)?
- How brand loyal are they? Knowing this can help you gauge how long they might be a customer. Or, if there is a competitor already offering a similar product, it can help you figure out how hard it might be to win them over and get them to switch to your product.
- Are they likely to make repeat purchases?
- What do they dislike? There may be certain topics, interests, or events this particular audience dislikes. Knowing this can help you to avoid touching on these topics or can be a way to better relate to your audience.
- What channels do they use to communicate? Text, messenger, email, phone call, etc.
- Do they communicate differently at work? For instance, maybe there are some specific tools they use at work to communicate with other members of their team. An example might be Slack. This might be an opportunity to partner with a company and increase your brand awareness to your audience.
- How much are they willing to spend?
- How much can they afford?
- What defines ROI for them?
- Do they prefer value or price?
- How do they use and navigate your website? Do most visitors come directly to your page or do they land on one of your blog posts? Do they use the top menu navigation or do they navigate through links within your page text?
- What type of content do they already enjoy on your website? For example, which pages are the most popular (by traffic) or which are most engaging (time on page)?
- How do they already get to your website? Does most of your traffic come in through search, social media, Adwords, etc.?
- What pages or articles perform best on your site? Which get the most traffic and which have the highest engagement (number of shares or time on page)? This can help you figure out what your audience already enjoys or finds useful.
- How informed are customers about your topic, industry, or company? In other words, how much do they know about you and what you offer? They may be interested in what you offer but don’t completely understand what it’s about or the value it provides. So you may need or want to spend time educating your audience. For example, let’s use solar panels. Your audience may be interested in the idea of saving money by investing in solar panels for their home. However, they may not know much about how the technology works, how it will actually save them money, or how to get started. These are areas you can develop content to help educate them and break down any barriers they have to making a purchase.
- What do they and don’t they know?
- What are other companies missing when it comes to providing for this audience? It could be a feature, service, or content.
Where to Find This Information
You want to avoid making assumptions when it comes to defining your audience. If you’ve been in business for awhile, you probably have some idea of who are customers are. However, you still want to do the proper research to make sure you’re developing an accurate representation.
There are all sorts of way to collect information about your customer base from testimonials, to surveys, to members of your team, and more. Here are a few to consider:
- Do you have any customer testimonials on hand?
- Do you have reviews on your site you can analyze?
- Do you have sales members on your team who have had extensive conversations with customers?
- Do you have comments on any articles on your website you can analyze?
- What are people saying in the comments sections on competitor’s blog posts?
- What type of content are your competitor’s publishing? They’ve likely already done some research into your audience and the topics they care about. You can steal ideas from them and save yourself some time.
- What are your followers on social media saying?
- What are your competitor’s followers on social media saying?
- What are your followers saying back to you on social media?
- Do you have access to any competitive research tools? Using Ahrefs or SEMrush can be a good way to analyze your competitors or other similar sites to find what type of keywords they rank for (and your customer search for) and what type of content already performs well with your audience.
- Do you have access to any survey tools? Using a tool like Google Surveys or Survey Monkey can be a good way to get some real customer feedback.
- Are there any questions on Quora, Yahoo Answers, or any forums that are related to your industry, product, or topic? There’s likely some questions out there people have asked on sites like Quora that you can analyze to see what troubles your customers are having and what type of feedback they’re getting.
- Where else can you find this information? Get creative. Besides some of the other outlets I proposed, you can consider other members of your team (even accounting, customer service, etc.) to weigh in on how your customers act and are perceived, look to friends or family who come into contact with your audience (maybe at their job or they have a friend who fits your ideal target), or reach out to authoritative figures your audience follows. Simply, like I mentioned above, you don’t want to make assumptions. Think of all the ways you can find real and evidence-backed information about your audience.
Evaluating Your Audience
Okay, you’ve gone through all these questions, picked out the right ones for your business, and began to answer them and define your audience. Now, it’s time to evaluate your audience, whether you’ve found the correct information, and how you can use that information to guide your marketing efforts.
So here are a few questions to ask to make sure you got your audience right and figure out what to do next:
- How big is your target audience? Now that you’ve begun to narrow down your audience, is this group big enough to sustain growth?
- How can you best reach them (advertising, organic search, etc.)?
- Where are they along the consideration/conversion path?
- How long does it take for them to commit to buying? This can guide your re-marketing and email marketing campaigns.
- Does your business idea need to be altered to better appeal to this audience?
- Does your marketing copy need to be changed to better appeal to this audience?
- Have you developed personas?
- Did you get everything right? Probably not. But, that’s okay. Defining your audience is not meant to be a one-time event. Your audience is always growing and adapting. New social networks form that your audience may use, new figures rise to fame that they follow, new companies form that they buy products from, and so on. It’s important to keep evaluating your audience and studying their behavior, which leads me to our final question…
- When will you come back to? Like I said, defining your audience is not meant to be a one-time activity. While you don’t need to go through this process every month, it’s important to set a time to come back and reevaluate things. So set a time on your calendar for every year to come back to evaluate your audience. Do you have everything right? Was there something that you had wrong about them? For instance, maybe you thought they spent a lot of time on Pinterest but your Pinterest Advertising has fallen flat. It could be because your Promoted Pins suck, but it could also because your audience really isn’t on Pinterest. Now would be the time to evaluate that and figure out if that’s really an area to focus on. That’s just one example but there are many others. Set a time you’ll come back to evaluate your audience and stick to it.
That’s it! 101 questions to define your target market. Like I mentioned in the intro, not every question is going to apply to you and your business. But, take the time to consider each and whether answering them will help you to find valuable information about your customer that you can use to better target them.
Finally, I hope this article was helpful to you and be sure to let me know what you thought in the comments below. Also, if you have any questions of your own, be sure to list them too.
Cody is the CMO at Jawfish Digital. He has over 5+ years of experience in Web Design and Content Marketing. He’s helped create long-form, SEO-driven content for companies such as Instapage, Nutshell, Leadboxer, Wonderflow, and more.