Before you start to promote your product or service, you need to find out who your target market is – i.e. the kind of people who are most likely to buy from you – and then use that information to develop an effective marketing strategy.
When it comes to defining your target market, educated guesses and broad generalisations are not enough. You need hard, verifiable data that will help you make informed decisions about your business, from the products and services you offer, through to the marketing channels you use, and the way you present your sales material.
Get it wrong, and you risk wasting time, money, and effort on a strategy that has a weak offer, and fails to grab the attention of those who are most likely to benefit from and pay for your products.
The good news? Knowing how to conduct market research properly will greatly boost your odds of success. Better still, you’ll be surprised to know just how quick, easy, and affordable it is to define your target audience, and give your marketing strategy the laser-focus precision it needs to hit the mark.
First off, you need to paint a portrait of your ideal customer…
A portrait of your ideal customer
Now, the amount of information you can collect about your potential customers is near-limitless. However, just because you can learn certain details about your target market that doesn’t mean you should.
The key is to only collect information that is relevant to your products or services and will help you best present your offer to the right people.
Why does this matter? Because asking the wrong questions could alienate your prospects. For instance, if you were to distribute an online survey to learn about your customers, and you ask questions that are either irrelevant or overly personal – your respondents may drop out early or rush through the survey, resulting in poor quality answers.
While the information you collect will depend on your business idea, here are some of the most crucial details to find out and how they can help you:
- Age: You don’t have to narrow it down to a specific age. You can go for a ballpark figure that breaks it down into decades or generations (i.e. 21 – 30 years old, or born in the 80’s – 90’s). This information will help you choose the right language for your sales copy, and what kind of benefits and features to emphasise.
- Gender: While some products and services are clearly tailored to certain genders, if your offer is near the middle and could apply to either, then it will be helpful to know how people of different genders respond to your offer.
- Location: Whether you plan to open a physical store or set up an online business to target specific geographic regions, knowing where your prospects are located is crucial. You should also extend your research to include not just details about physical locations (i.e. postcode, council guidelines, public transport access) but also digital channels (i.e. preferred social media platforms, daily email usage).
- Income level: How much can your prospects afford to pay for your solution? If they’re already paying for a solution, do they think it’s too high or low? Do they perceive their current solution to be of value? This information will help you determine the best price point for your solution.
- Education: This is the average level of education your ideal customer has. If your ideal customer is highly educated, you may be able to make your sales material more in-depth and technical than if they were less educated. This way, you can present your case with greater authority and better explain why your solution is a safe and wise choice.
- Marital or family status: Are your prospects single, in a de facto relationship, or married? Knowing this will give you a better idea into what stage of life your ideal customer is currently at. For instance, if you plan to sell life insurance then married people may be receptive to your offer, as financial security and peace of mind will matter to them.
- Occupation: Are your prospects full-time or part-time workers, contractors, or self-employed? This will give you an idea on the kind of day-to-day problems your prospects face, how much time they have in their daily lives, and their level of job satisfaction. This information can also help you target a niche market or industry your competitors have so far overlooked.
- Ethnicity: People’s faith, religious beliefs, and cultural background may play a crucial role in how they perceive your product or service. It can also influence the kind of language you use to promote your offer. Keep in mind, if you feel this is not relevant to your offer – you don’t have to ask.
These are just some of the many key demographics you may wish to uncover. Remember, as long as the information is relevant to your offer, there’s a chance the data will help you out.
Going beyond the demographics
Of course, there’s a lot more to learn about your prospects than just their age, income, and location. The next step will involve learning about their motivation to buy from you, and the competition you face. By doing this, it will help you craft a compelling USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and stand out from the competition.
Some of the most important questions to get answers for, include:
- What kind of problems do your prospects face?
- How does your product or service help solve these problems?
- Is there already a similar solution available on the market?
- If so, what kind of advantages does your solution have over the rest (i.e. better customer service, faster turnaround, longer lasting results)?
- How much money are your prospects willing to spend?
- What kind of emotions do your prospects associate with your solution?
You may be surprised at the depth and complexity of some of these responses. Learning this information will also help you dispel any existing beliefs or presumptions you previously had. As a result, you will have hard data to work with once you start to promote your business idea.
How to collect your consumer data – an online survey
By far, the most effective, affordable, and fastest way to learn about your target market is with an online market research survey. Why?
For starters, online surveys can be personalised to reflect your business needs and goals. You have the freedom to not just create the questions, but also place them in a logical order and include branch paths so that each respondent only answers relevant questions that relate to their previous responses.
Secondly, online surveys are easy to create and distribute across a variety of digital channels, from social media and email through to direct messenger apps. You can even ask prospects how they found your survey and use those findings to distribute your future marketing material.
Finally, online survey platforms break down your findings into clear, easy to read statistics and analytics. This will help you make sense of the data and reach logical conclusions based on your findings. You can also break down the respondents into key demographics and target groups to categorise the data.
How Start Up Wise Can Help
Of course, to get the most out of your survey, you need to know how to ask the right questions, structure the survey in a logical and user-friendly way, and reach logical conclusions based on the data you collect.
That’s where a company like Start Up Wise can help.
By taking the time to learn about your business idea and your ideal customer, we can make the market research process easy and stress-free. We can help you design your online survey questionnaire, distribute the survey to a wide geographic and demographic range of online survey panels both in Australia and New Zealand, analyse the data for you, and give you recommendations you can instantly act upon.
As a result, you will have a clear understanding of your target market, the competition you face, and how best to promote your business idea.
More Start Up Questions?
This blog expands on chapter 2 in my 10 Vital Questions Guide.