For over a year, I have been writing the “How To” Start-Up Business Blog for ProblemSolutionHQ.com, a business of which I am a partner. This article was originally posted on that website and I have updated it and shared it here. Visit here to read the original post–> http://www.problemsolutionhq.com/blog/why-is-it-important-to-identify-your-target-audience/
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Hopefully your product development process involved thinking a bit about who your target audience is. Whether your business is a local brick and mortar, an ecommerce store, a blog, or a SAAS, you likely put your blood, sweat, and tears into it. Once your product is complete and ready to launch, the question of audience becomes, quite possibly, the most important part of the selling process. Over the past two years, ProblemSolutionHQ has launched two primary products, FreshCheq and Call Informer. Additionally, I have launched a second eCommerce website and this blog. Needless to say, I have spent a large part of 2016 and 2017 thinking about how to identify target audiences. And is here is what I have learned:
You Have Several Target Audiences
There is usually a primary target audience. This is the one that you are thinking about when the product or business is in the development stage. For example, when our team first began development of FreshCheq, we felt that targeting independent restaurants that used paper food temp logs was our best bet.
Since our initial launch, we have also identified small chains and food trucks as likely businesses that could benefit from our product. These are our secondary audiences. We are also pursuing a few government agencies, which is pretty far off of our initial audience.
Do not get overwhelmed by having several target audiences. Simply prioritize them.
On the other hand, do not fool yourself into thinking that “everyone” is your target market. I read an interview with Daymond John and had to chuckle when he explained that while entrepreneurs are pitching him on Shark Tank, there is one sure way to get him to zone out and start thinking about what’s for lunch. When a business owner says, “Everyone is my customer. My industry is a $50 billion market.” Daymond realizes that the person pitching has no concept of his target market and he refuses to invest under those circumstances.
Your Primary Target Audience May Change
It is surprising and amusing when business owners discover that their original primary audience has, in fact, changed. Imagine developing a product with a certain group in mind, only to find out that another demographic actually has a greater need for your product.
I was listening to XM Business Radio last week and learned of a crowdfunding startup called Root Funding. Over the course of the interview, the founder explained that the original concept was to serve the non-profit and higher ed sectors. Once the product was launched, friends began to ask to use the service for things such as funding an event or gift where multiple people would be paying. Root Funding still serves non-profit businesses, but “individuals” is now their primary audience.
Keep Niche-ing Down
Once a primary audience is established, dig deeper. Within one audience lives several other smaller, niche audiences. Identifying and understanding these smaller subgroups is crucial to success.
Our product, Call Informer, is a call recording product that was designed for independent restaurants as an employee training tool. As we began to market, we realized that there is a real need for the product within the pizza delivery market. Additionally, pizza delivery restaurants that identify delivery as the majority of their revenue emerged as one of our leading audiences. Keep drilling down on your audiences to fine tune your marketing efforts and truly understand who needs your product or service.
Over the past couple years, I have learned that it is important to let go of our bias and allow the target audience to manifest. Your product is developed with an audience in mind, but be ready to change and flex as needed. Unexpected and unintended audiences emerging is quite an amazing “problem” for a start up business to have. Be ready for it.