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One of the services that I most enjoy providing for customers is a website evaluation and it has nothing to do with the website – and everything to do with how people perceive their websites.
Before performing an evaluation, I send a questionnaire to my customers so they can tell me a little bit about their business and goals. And one of the questions is about target audience: Who is most likely to buy your product or service?
The vast majority of the time, the answer I get back is: anyone who wants my product or service.
For example, a lawyer might tell me: anyone who needs a lawyer.
A designer might tell me: anyone who wants a logo.
A school might tell me: anyone with a child aged 3-5.
A retailer might tell me: anyone who wants to buy a set of knives.
That sounds kind of right on the surface. After all, you wouldn’t want to target someone who doesn’t want a lawyer/logo/knife.
But once you dig past the surface you start to see all sorts of flaws in this reasoning.
Let’s explore why the “anyone” approach is faulty reasoning and how you might want to think about your target audience instead.
The Problem With The “Anyone” Approach
Let’s take the lawyer, for example. It’s a pretty simple one.
And let’s say that my lawyer is a divorce attorney. I bet that divorce attorney doesn’t want people calling him about collections. Or labor violations. Or car accidents.
So suddenly, “anyone who wants a lawyer” becomes “only people who need a divorce attorney”.
I bet we could narrow that down even further but let’s use another example.
How about my knife retailer? I enjoy cooking so trust me when I tell you that there are a lot of types of knives out there. You can get the slice-a-tuna-sandwich knife for twenty bucks or the slice-through-bone-if-you’re-not-careful knife for two hundred.
Now, I may love cooking but I don’t love parting with two hundred dollars and although I slice more than tuna sandwiches I’m not such a chef that I need to quarter a cow on a moment’s notice. So I’m probably not the best target for our knife retailer who sells only top-of-the line chef’s ware. I may want a knife. But I don’t want that knife.
My retailer probably wants to think more narrowly about his audience and define the types of cooks he’s targeting, their skill levels, even their financial status.
Just those few simple examples show that the more we can begin to refine our audience down to just the type of person who wants just the thing that were selling, the more success we’ll have in marketing and speaking to that person.
Who’s Buying YOUR Stuff?
It’s tempting to want to think as broadly as possible about your target audience. After all, why wouldn’t you want to sell your product or service to as many people as possible?
The problem is that by focusing on everyone, you’re talking to no one.
By widening your audience, you necessarily need a broad message. Something general, perhaps vague. A “crowd pleaser”… and anyone who has had a Saturday backyard barbecue or a three-year-old’s birthday party knows how impossible that is!
As counterintuitive as it might sound to you right now, the more narrowly you can define your audience, the more success you will have, the more products and services you will sell, and the happier everyone will be.
By knowing precisely, specifically, down to the last detail who you’re talking to, you can speak to them in terms and language that they’ll understand, appreciate and ultimately respond to.
My school client who thinks she’s targeting moms with 3-5 year olds may really be aiming at working moms who need full day care or even a great after school program.
When you know the needs, fears, frustrations and pain points of your audience you can write your copy around the exact questions in their heads. Show them the photos they want to see from precisely the right angles. Offer the type of customer support or follow up that you know they’re waiting for.
Getting To Know Your People
Whenever I write a blog post I always picture a specific person that I’m talking to. It could be YOU. I say your name in my head as I’m writing. I think about what you’re doing right now, what you were doing five minutes ago and what you’re going to be doing as soon as you close the browser. I imagine the questions you’ll ask and try to answer those next.
I think about the stories that you can relate to and tell those.
I imagine the place where you might get bored and then I try to stop talking!
It’s not a perfect process, but it gets me a lot closer to hitting my target than throwing out some vague notions about “writing great web content” and other general advice.
So here’s your homework for today, if you’re still struggling with who your customers really are or you still hold onto the idea that you want to hit as many people as possible.
Grab a pen or keyboard and start creating a picture of who you want to be sitting here talking to right now.
Who is that person, the one who makes you giddy and glad that you decided to do what you do? Who wants and needs your products and services the most?
I promise nobody is looking inside your brain so don’t feel silly doing this exercise, because I want you to envision this person right down to the color of her nail polish.
Think about it… a 20-something with perfectly manicured red nails is going to think/live/buy differently than a 30-something with bare, clipped nails.
I bet if you start creating a persona around each of these possible women, you’ll come to some very different conclusions!
Which one might be more inclined to buy a $200 knife? How about use one?
Not to sound stereotypical, but have you ever tried to debone a chicken with a great manicure?
The clearer the picture you can get in your head of the type of person who will want, enjoy, need and buy your product or service most, the better able you’ll be to talk to them and get your sales message across in a way that benefits both of you.
So… who is your customer?
Gender? Age? Career? Lifestyle? Financial status? Hobbies?
Does your customer clip coupons or spend extravagantly?
Enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or stick to purified water?
Love dogs or prefer tarantulas?
Not every personality quirk, behavior or demographic profile will be relevant to your business, and that’s the point – figure out which ones matter and focus like a laser beam on finding those people.
It’s a big job! You probably won’t figure it all out on one try but even if you get a little closer to defining your “who”, you’ll be a whole lot better off than if you never tried – or if you try to target “everyone”.
Leave me a comment and tell me ONE thing about your target customer that makes him or her perfect for you. And when you’re done, use that as you write your next blog post or email!