Are you new to marketing, and the harrowing weight of adequately putting your business out there is starting to feel daunting? You may be asking yourself where to start. You may be asking if it is worth it to invest in SEO or ads for traffic. You might be toying with the idea of joining multiple social media platforms and local networking groups. You may even feel it's time for a new website and visual brand identity.
As much as all these are valid ideas and steps to debuting your company onto the digital platform and into the hearts of your future loyal customers, there is something else you should do first.
I’m about to save you from spending your hard-earned money on things that don’t quite matter yet.
Forget the website. Forget Social Media. Forget Content, SEO, and ads too.
If you have yet to intimately define your ideal customer, one of the first things you need to do is to get inside the minds and lives of those you aim to serve. Knowing your ideal customer, target audience, or customer persona is the foundation upon which all marketing is built. It serves as the sturdy building block that will weather your business through any storm, and support it while you build it up to dizzying heights. Intimately knowing who you’re marketing to will help steer every decision you make in your business to suit your target audience. And this goes from branding techniques, like typography and voice, to the content on your website, socials, and even your store signage and interior design.
You cannot underestimate the severity of the impact this step will have on the longevity and success of your business. It’s the seed in the soil. Your brand messaging’s suitability to the person on the other end of the screen is crucial to the growth of your business. Your target customer must be able to visualize themselves using your product or acquiring your service.
Now that we have the why noted down and understood, let's move to the how.
Imagining the age, gender, location and other such demographic details is a good start, but is not enough. You simply must dive in deeper! You should aim to understand their most primal motivations, their secret desires, fears, hopes and dreams. You need to know what’s keeping them up at night & what motivates them to wake up in the morning.
You’re not looking for justifications as to why they should use your product: You’re swimming to the base of that iceberg, unlocking the psychological triggers that urge them to take action.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to crack this code:
1 | Where do they spend their time?
Consider their location both online and offline. Knowing precisely where your ideal customer spends their time shapes everything from where you market, to what phrases and vernacular to use.
2 | Where do they seek information?
This one is essential for research. Do they Google everything, peruse Pinterest, or lose hours to YouTube? Not only does this tell you where you can position your own answers, but it also gives you a strong idea of the questions, frustrations, and type of language they are likely to use. This will tell you how they think, the voices that influence them, and how to craft a standout voice of your own.
3 | What are their frustrations?
What problem do they need you to solve for them? Knowing their biggest frustrations will also teach you what emotional chords you need to be strumming in your message. In behavioural economics, emotionality often distracts from rationality, so appeal to the emotion, then back it with data. Or, more commonly, list benefits first, then features. Understanding these pain points will dictate how you position your solution, what stories you tell, and what testimonies you collect and display.
4 | What are their hopes and desires?
What makes them happy? Use these for future pacing, master crafting an elegant tapestry of what could be in the minds of your ideal customer. What would their lives look like if they used your products or services? How does that touch their aspirations?
5 | What are they afraid of?
Fear is a stronger motivator than pleasure. If you can figure out what keeps your customer up at night, you can advertise how your offering is a solution to that worry. What would life be like if they don’t act now? The feeling of loss will compel anyone far more than the thought of gain. Use this appropriately and watch your conversion rates increase. However, to warn, don’t overuse fear. Never focus solely on the negative. Use their fears in how you position your solution— how you deliver them from that fear. People will bounce faster than you can blink if they feel negativity pouring out of your copy.
Defining your target audience well lets everything else fall perfectly into place: your website, socials, content, ads, and more. Everything should be built on the cornerstone that is your audience persona.
Now, this is where most would transition into a service plug and drone on about how they can help you if you schedule a consultation etc, but no, today is about adding value. I want you to succeed at marketing: I'm legitimately rooting for you. So, drop your plans for this evening and sit down, list out some answers to these questions. Then go deeper. Ask yourself why at every juncture. Be inquisitive and introspective. After that? Well after that, we handle everything else, so stay ready.