“If you’re marketing to everyone, you’re marketing to no one.” Truer words were never spoken, but that’s exactly what many businesses are doing. Especially those who are still using outdated forms of advertising such as radio, television, and bulk mail. Even within the online space, many business owners and advertisers are targeting far too broad an audience or markets that are competitive. The book “Blue Ocean Strategy” describes how most markets are red oceans, meaning they’re full of sharks feeding on the same fish. Finding a niche with little to no competition, or a blue ocean, is important.
Not only will finding a blue ocean increase your chances of success, but it will make your marketing efforts far more effective and less costly. So let’s dedicate this post to helping you zero in on your target market.
Use Keyword Research
Search engines are great tools to determine if people are in the market for the products and services you offer. Having said that, because they’re broad, they won’t tell you if people are specifically searching in the niche you’ve chosen. That’s where long-tail keywords will differentiate your market. Learning to use tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner can help you determine your market potential, as well as the keywords you should be optimizing for in your SEO and content strategies.
Analyze your Current Customers
Do a deep dive into your current customers and break them down demographically. Look at factors such as age, gender, household income, race, education, location, employment status, topics, and interests. There may even be other factors that you could think to include, such as what kind of device they’re using to connect with you.
Use sources such as
- Your customer service department
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics
- The US Census Bureau’s FactFinder
- Your advertising platform analytics, such as AdWords and FaceBook Business Manager.
If you’re using AdWords for paid traffic, setting up affinity audiences can help you collect valuable information over time that will help you learn who’s responding to your ads, allowing you to further refine your targeting. FaceBook Business Manager has similar capabilities. In the same way, your email marketing will give you great insights into who’s responding to certain products and services.
Look for similarities and do some analysis to try to figure out why they buy from you. Use your list of products and services and segregate it by who purchased what. You should be able to begin drawing some conclusions.
Analyze Competitors Customers
Now, have a look at your competitor’s customers and do the same. Try to figure out why their customers buy from them. You may not have as much detailed information to go with, but do your best to make a good assessment. The idea here is to find the blue ocean. In other words, don’t target the same people your competitors are targeting.
Develop Customer Avatars
A customer avatar is a persona that you create as the depiction of your ideal customer. With all of the analysis you’ve done to this point, you should begin to see who’s resonating with your brand. Chances are you’ll see that there are multiple avatars that could be developed from among them. Use a customer avatar worksheet to document each avatar you identify. The idea is to develop a sales funnel targeting each and every avatar that represents your market.
When developing your avatars don’t skimp on the details, in fact, dig deep and include as much information as possible. You should include all of the demographic information from your previous analysis and factors such as
- where they hang out online
- where they get their information (books, magazines, blogs, gurus, etc.)
- what are their challenges and pain points
- what is their role in the buying decision (they may have a spouse or a supervisor, for example)
- objections to the sale
Use the Internet to do some research and try to learn as much as you can about your avatar. For example, if you’re a B2B and your avatar is a chiropractor, do a search on the top challenges facing chiropractors. You’ll quickly find out his pain points.
Develop a Before and After Worksheet for Each Avatar
Now that you’ve identified them, it’s time to bridge your avatar from his current undesirable situation to the desirable after state that your product or service can get him to. To do that, use the the before and after portion of the customer avatar template. It’s a simple but powerful exercise that will drive the development of your statement of value and ultimately your advertising message. It’s a way of helping you get into the head of your customer and begin to understand them so that you can message them in a way to take action.
Once you’ve evaluated your market and developed your avatar, develop free content to measure interest (and grow your email list). A great way to do this is to boost a post on social media designed to get them to click through to your content. Examples of free content could include
- blog posts
- content videos
- white papers
- case studies
Put some thought into your content. Make it relevant to your avatar. Try to touch on pain points and challenges. Your content should provide value and insights into your avatars problem. Make sure it has a clear call to action that can be measured. For example, clicking through to a blog post or a landing page that you can track in Google Analytics.
Be sure you’re pixelling your visitors so that you can segment and re-target them with more relevant content. As you gather data, you’ll get more and more clear on who’s resonating with your content, who are becoming buyers and who are just kicking the tires.
Continue to Refine
Your market is dynamic and chances are your products and services are too. Be vigilant and repeat this process on a recurring basis. Continually refining your target market is a critical and ongoing process in your digital marketing strategy. To your marketing success!
Founder and CEO, Southern Arizona Digital Marketing and DecideToBeFreeOnline
Scott Anders is a digital marketing trainer and consultant living in Southern Arizona. After more than 30 years in corporate life, including the US Army, he began pursuing his passions as an entrepreneur in 2016. He loves helping small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs take advantage of the incredible opportunities available in the digital economy to enjoy greater freedom and fulfillment.